How to Teach Your Child To Prioritize: A Step by Step Guide 

Teaching your child to prioritize

Teaching your child how to prioritize is an important. By encouraging your child to think about what tasks are most important and setting reasonable expectations, you can help them manage their time better and become successful in the future. It is not only key for them being able to leave home, it is also a massive marker for their mental health, and yours while they are at home! Like everything, from getting dressed in the morning, it needs to be introduced over a period of time in small steps. A process called scaffolding. It can be tempting to helicopter in, it is quicker and gets the desired result. It is not conductive in the long run.

Modelling good time management and prioritizing shows your children how to make better decisions. In this blog post, we’ll describe how to teach your child to prioritize by helping them become more independent in small tasks, and giving them enough freedom and structure to succeed in small steps. This is called scaffolding.

Benefits of Teaching Time Management to Children

There are many benefits to teaching children how to prioritize. First, it helps them make better decisions. When children learn how to prioritize and manage their time effectively, they are less likely to make impulsive decisions that could have negative consequences. It also means that, by ‘doing the things they have to do first’, the most important things are done first. It will start of small, get dressed before coming down, but will follow with completing assignments in advance to allow time for the inevitable issue with the printer running out of ink the night before!

Second, it teaches children how to manage their tasks more efficiently. By teaching children the importance of setting goals and planning ahead, they can better organize their tasks and focus their energy on the most important ones. It is important that children socialize and have down time. In 16 hours of being awake there is plenty of time for this. If they know that they are going to go out with their friends in the afternoon, they can see that the morning is the time to do the homework. This means they will not go on the xbox and then be surprised that they are upset that evening trying to complete work when they come back late.

Third, it helps children learn how to value their time. Children learn how to better appreciate their time and how to use it more productively. I know that if I had my time again as a teenager I would do far more with it. I didn’t value the time I had and wasted a lot of it.

Finally, it teaches children how to set boundaries. By learning how to prioritize and manage their time, children learn how to say “no” to activities that don’t align with their goals. 

Note How Time Is Allocated in the Day to Guide Decisions. 

When teaching young children how to allocate their time, explain the importance of planning their day in advance and make note of how much time is available within this period. It’s essential that they understand that certain tasks take precedence over others and must be given more time than others. Explain important concepts such as ‘time management’ and ‘scheduling’ that can help your child to structure their daily life and keep on task with longer-term goals. This will help them to stay on track with the completion of each task throughout the day to ensure the most important activities get completed first.  For example, put your clothes away before playing is a great place to start. Explain that if they do the clothes first it removes the worry of when are they going to do it, which makes playing more enjoyable.

Explaining Prioritization to Children  

Teaching the concept of prioritization to children can be challenging, but it’s possible using small steps early as above. To make the concept easier to understand, start by explaining the difference between urgent and important tasks. Urgent tasks are those that must be done immediately, while important tasks are those that will have a positive impact on the child’s future. 

Once children understand the concept of prioritization, it’s important to help them identify which tasks are urgent and which ones are important. Encourage them to focus on the tasks that will have a positive impact on their future, such as studying for a test or completing a project. Delayed gratification is a difficult concept for children to understand. However, it is one of the biggest correlations to success and happiness.

It’s also important to help children understand the consequences of not prioritizing their tasks. Explain to them the importance of meeting deadlines and the consequences of not doing so. Focus on the effect on them. That it goes beyond being told off, but effects the relationships with people around them, and their own self-worth. When they do something well, help them reflect on the inner glow that it gives them. Link this to how they have completed the task in a calm way by prioritizing.

How to Teach Time Management Skills to Children

Teaching children to prioritize can be a challenging task, but there are some strategies that can make it easier. First, it’s important to create an environment that encourages children to prioritize. This includes making sure that they have the tools they need. For example a draw to put school bags in. Or setting up a designated workspace where they can work. Let them come up with a schedule for studying and completing tasks. Here they will learn how long things take. Aspects like this can only be learned through failure. Rewards are a difficult topic for me. Being organized is an expectation. However, if they are ready to leave school early, they could get more quality time. For instance my son and I, if he is ready, will have a game of table tennis.

Second, when teaching your child to prioritize, it’s important to help children set realistic goals. Dale Schunk’s paper on this discusses how if goals are unrealistic it is demoralising. We have here a post on age appropriate chores. This could include breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable pieces and setting deadlines for completing each task. So if there is an essay or test, how to break it down into small 20 minute evening parts. If it is packing to go on a trip, defining what they should be the days before. For example, 5 days out pile of clothes and wash those that need washing. Four days out, checking number of socks and that it fits in the bag etc.

Third, it’s important to help children understand the importance of planning ahead and setting their own deadlines. Explain to them that setting deadlines helps to ensure that tasks are completed on time and that it’s important to give themselves enough time to complete tasks. 

Finally, it’s important to help children develop problem-solving skills. Time management involves making decisions and solving problems, so it’s important to help children develop these skills. 

Lead by Example. 

We talk very often about the importance of practicing what you preach. Leading by example is an effective way to model prioritizing behavior for your child. Draw their attention when you start a task that requires you to prioritize and break down how you determine what is important and what isn’t. Show them how you take the time to plan out the most effective order of tasks and explain why it’s important to do this so that you can complete the most important things first and work efficiently. This does not need to be in an overwhelming way, but if, for instance, packing for a holiday, explain that you are getting the car checked out a few days before incase something needs to be changed.

Talk About Priorities Together. 

Involve your child in the process of talking about their priorities and goals. With the example above planning a holiday. Discuss with them what’s important to them, what activities take up most of their time and how they can ensure that they are making the most out of that time. Explain why it’s important to focus on certain tasks before other, more leisurely activities like watching TV or playing video games and remind them of any deadlines they have to meet such as school projects or exams. 

An Example of What This Might Look Like

Once children understand the concept of prioritization and have set goals, it’s important to help them prioritize their tasks effectively. Here are some strategies for helping children prioritize their tasks: 

  • Start with the most important tasks first. Encourage children to identify the most important tasks and focus on completing them first. 
  • Break down tasks into smaller steps. This makes tasks easier to manage and complete. 
  • Set realistic deadlines. Setting unrealistic deadlines can cause children to become overwhelmed and discouraged. 
  • Create rewards for completing tasks on time. This can help children stay motivated and on track. 
  • Take regular breaks. Taking regular breaks helps children stay focused and helps them recharge. 

Create a Structure with Routines and Lists. 

Once priorities have been identified, you and your child should create a routine, such as prioritising tasks in chronological order. Breaking down tasks into small, manageable goals can help children focus on the task at hand and also provide a sense of accomplishment when completed. You may also want to discuss making lists which will help them identify what needs to get done and in what order. Writing things down is always helpful because it can take away any mental clutter and provide a visible framework for them to refer back to during the day or week. 

Helping Children Make Their Own Schedule

Once children have identified their goals and learned how to prioritize their tasks, it’s important to help them create their own schedule. This could include setting aside specific times for studying, completing tasks, and taking breaks. 

When creating a schedule, it’s important to encourage children to be flexible. Explain to them that not all tasks can be completed in the allotted time, so they should be prepared to adjust their schedule accordingly. 

It’s also important to encourage children to give themselves enough time to complete tasks. Explain to them that rushing tasks can lead to mistakes and that it’s important to give themselves enough time to complete tasks properly. 

Helping Children Set Their Own Deadlines 

Once children have created their own schedule, it’s important to help them set their own deadlines. Explain to them that setting deadlines helps to ensure that tasks are completed on time and that it’s important to give themselves enough time to complete tasks. 

Encourage children to think about how much time they need to complete each task and set realistic deadlines. It’s also important to encourage children to ask for help if they need it and to be flexible if their deadlines need to change. 

Final Thoughts on Teaching Time Management to Children 

With all that is written above, it might just be that your child is just trying to do too much. Or you are trying to get them to do too much. We look at what to do if you find yourself in the trap of your child doing to many extracurricular activities in this article here.

Time management is an essential skill for children to learn and it’s important for parents and teachers to help children learn these skills. Teaching children how to prioritize their tasks and manage their time effectively can help them make better decisions, manage their tasks more efficiently, and make the most of their time. 

By teaching children the importance of setting goals, creating a plan, and setting their own deadlines, they can learn how to better manage their time and prioritize their tasks. With the right strategies and guidance, teaching children time management skills can be a rewarding experience and an important step to independence

Time management is an important skill for children to learn and it’s worth the effort. With the right strategies, children can learn how to prioritize their tasks and manage their time effectively.