Bee a Time Keeper: Helping Kids Learn Time Management With Mindy Hudon! by Renee Herren
Time is an abstract concept that is difficult for young children to understand. Typically, children aren't taught time until the second grade; however, we expect younger children to understand how time moves. “You have 5 minutes,” or “Bedtime is in 15 minutes.” Children are often unable to comply with adult requests around time, because they have no understanding of what time feels like. This can be frustrating for both adults and children.
We were excited to have 30Seconds contributor Mindy Hudon as our #30Seconds Twitter chat guest. Mindy is a speech-language pathologist certified by the Speech-Language Hearing Association, and she also specializes in executive function skills. She has created the Bee a Time Keeper clock to help young children “see and feel” the passage of time. Mindy shared her expertise on teaching time management strategies in a nonthreatening way to develop children’s planning, transitional and self-regulation skills. Strategies that can be used in both home and school.
Q: Why is it important to teach young children time management skills?
The earlier you start teaching children time-management skills, the better for them and for your sanity, too. Daily battles with children occur around time constraints. Do you hear yourself saying, “Hurry up! Do you know what time it is? You’re going to miss the bus?” Time battles can cause both parent and child frustrations. My worst “Mommy moment” with my boys was hearing my own voice screaming at them because of time. I knew it had to stop!
My job was to teach my boys how to plan ahead by knowing what was expected of them and providing them with tools to “see” and “feel” time. Today, I use time-management strategies in my clinical practice with children ages 3-8. These children feel empowered by planning their time and seeing and feeling the passage of time.
Q: Why is it so hard for kids to comply with time demands?
Time is an abstract concept and hard for young children to understand. Typically, children are not taught time until the second grade, but we expect young children to understand how time moves.
How often do you hear yourself saying, “We are leaving in five minutes” or “Bedtime is in 15 minutes?” Children are often unable to comply with adult requests around time, because they have no understanding of what time feels like. It can be very frustrating for both children and parents when time constraints aren’t met causing emotions to escalate.
Q: Why should I teach my young child about time when I am able to just tell them what they need to do?
As adults, we rely on clocks to help us determine how much time we have to complete tasks, get ready for work or get to appointments. Imagine not having a clock and then suddenly being asked to change your plan to comply with someone else's expectations without notice. Imagine life without seeing or feeling time.
Have you ever asked your child to be ready in “five minutes” and when you return they are still playing? It’s not only frustrating to you, but your child has no idea why you are upset because they can’t feel time.
Q: How can I help my child improve their time management?
Providing children with time expectations prepares them for what will be happening next. Planning time expectations in advance helps children know what and when activities/events will be happening thus helping them become better self-managers.
We need to teach our children what time feels like, so they are better able to plan, transition and self-regulate. When children are able to see and feel time, they are better able to comply with adult requests and feel successful.
Q: What kind of clock should I use with my children? Digital or analog?
Digital clocks show time “now.” Analog clocks show “past,” “present” and “future” time. Analog clocks teach time management including the passage of time and how much time you have to complete a task.
In today’s digital age, many adolescents are unable to read analog clocks and may have difficulty with time management concepts. Analog clocks are more cognitive demanding and require our ability to plan time. We can see how time moves thus helping us be better self-managers.
Q: My child is only 3 years old. Aren’t they too young to learn about time?
No! Helping your child learn how to plan their time is easy with the right teaching tools. Enter “Bee a Time Keeper” Clock. I am a speech-language pathologist specializing in executive function skills. I developed the “Bee a Time Keeper” Clock for children ages 3-8. The “Bee a Time Keeper” Clock is child-friendly with colorful critters on an analog format that provides a fun, non-threatening way to develop children’s time management, planning, transitional and self-regulation skills.
Q: How do you use the “Bee a Time Keeper” clock?
The clock face contains various colorful critters alongside the numbers 1-12.Teach the children the critter vocabulary to ensure understanding before using the clock. On the hour hand there is a “SNAIL” and the minute hand has a “BEE.” Minutes move faster than hours and that is why the “BEE” is on the minute hand and the “SNAIL” is on the hour hand.
It is critical that the clock is placed visually at the children’s eye level and/or that the clock can be easily moved to be held in front of them so that you both can talk about the time expectations while visualizing the clock. Plan ahead and tell your child that they are going to “Bee Time Keepers.” It is important to “Bee Time Keepers” so that we don’t lose time from doing the fun things.
- Show your child where the “BEE” is on the clock with your finger and say, “Look, the BEE is on the (critters name).”
- Say, “When the BEE is on (critters name), it will be time for (say event). Preparing your time ahead of the event will help children better comply with time expectations.
- For example: Adult: “Let’s Bee a Time Keeper. Look, the BEE is on the BLUE BIRD, when the BEE gets to the CATERPILLAR it will be time to clean up.” Ask children to repeat to ensure that they have listened. Ask them to help recall their time limits.
- For example: Adult: “The BEE is on the OWL. When the BEE gets to the (pause, point at the critter without talking and wait for the child to finish with the correct response). Child: "BLUE BIRD, time for bed.” Adult: “Good Job. You’re a Time Keeper.”