This article, which was written by Mom and Dad, is so timely as we wrap up the first quarter of school and head into the second. It resonated with me deeply as I was the one helping a child “catch up” on a research paper this last week. I hope it is a good reminder for you as you organize the second quarter of your family and the holidays! -Torrey Roberts
Mothers across America have been heard to say, “I hope you know we will never go through this again!” This phrase was shouted right after the weekend of the science project nightmare. Once again the project has been put off until the last minute, and mother and child must spend the weekend scrambling to throw something together.
So often we miss the point in our parenting opportunities. “Train up a child in the way he should go so that when he is old he won’t depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 mandates that parents prepare children for adulthood. Time management will be a very significant discipline for every child to have when he or she grows up.
Dr. Wendell Hawley is one of my mentors. In his capacity as Editor-in-Chief of Tyndale House Publishers, he reads one or two books a day. During one of his annual visits, I said to him, “You read everything you can get your hands on. You are one of the smartest men I know. Why haven’t you ever written a book of your own?”
His response was hilarious and very revealing. “It doesn’t take brains to write a book, Bob. You are a living example of that. It takes time management to write books, and that is one of your disciplines. Everyone probably has a book in them, but they just don’t have the discipline to get it down on paper.”
Science projects and school book reports are training opportunities. They have very little, if anything, to do with the results of the project. Neither of my children has grown up to build more plaster volcanoes. They have grown up to face the responsibility of making time management decisions.
Training them in the way they should go means teaching them how to manage their time. From first grade on children need the opportunity to use a calendar. A calendar is not to see what I have scheduled for today. A calendar is so that I can get out front and schedule the things I am responsible for accomplishing. It teaches a child to get things done by biting them off a little at a time rather than at the last minute. It also means learning the difficult task of saying “no” to some opportunities because that time slot has already been taken up on the calendar.
Begin by finding out when the child’s long-term assignments are due. If a book report is due by the end of a quarter, sit with the child at the beginning and attempt to determine how long it will take him to read the one hundred and twenty pages. Let’s say it will take ten forty-minute segments. Help him select the particular evenings each week that he can schedule himself to read.
At the front end of his schedule, the child will quickly realize that there are many areas of potential conflict. He cannot read on Wednesday night because he has a church. Perhaps he can schedule himself to read on Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning. Better yet he can do some reading in the car or before he goes to bed.
Next, schedule the science projects and other activities that will require preparation. While you are at it, coordinate everyone’s calendar and schedule a family night for fun. The child’s calendar will begin to fill up and two things will become evident. The child cannot do everything, and the child has to make some difficult decisions. What should he drop?
My children realized that there were so many things to do that they had no time during the week for television. They also realized that they could not play a sport every season. By choosing wisely, they scheduled themselves into church rather than removing the church from their schedule. This is a time management skill that has remained with them into their adult lives.
It is so important to teach your children to get out front and schedule the important things they need to do with their lives. You either manage your schedule or your schedule manages you. Far too many people have grown up without an understanding of scheduling priorities only to wake up one day to find that they have lost their families. They just did not know how to put them in their calendar first before the world stole every unscheduled hour.
Visit parentingonpurpose.org for more advice from Dr. Bob Barnes and Torrey Roberts.