5 Practical Ways to Teach Your Child to Prioritize Tasks
How to prioritize tasks is a difficult subject for adults, let alone for children. You feel like you can or have to do it all, but that is never true. Some things need to be done before others, always, and we all know that. But the problem is in identifying what needs to be done immediately and what can take a back seat for the time being.
Most parents have little or no knowledge of how to teach their children about time management. Task and time management is something that even adults learn over a period of time with continuous efforts. It is something that needs continuous work.
How do you prioritize multiple tasks remains a typical affair. Even those sitting up top in the hierarchy lack time and task management skills. Below is a chart that showcases 14.6% of employees said their manager lacks time management skills –
Source: The Predictive Index
Imagine your child with so many things around him and the difficulty of deciding what to do first and whatnot. All adults, as well as children, go through this. To make it easier for the child, as a parent or teacher, you can try to teach them how to prioritize their tasks and go about them in order.
For children, everything that allows them to have fun takes priority over everything else. While it is good to have fun, children should also be taught to prioritize other things such as their homework, online learning program, helping out in small household chores, helping their younger siblings, if any, etc.
Parents and teachers should teach children to bifurcate their tasks into the most important, less important, and least important or something that can be done later. It will help them in everything they do, whether it is studies or work, later in life.
Now, we all understand that time management is important for our children. However, do we ever focus on things that hold them back and give them constant stress? It is important for us to dig deep and look out for major stressors in our lives. Let’s have a look at some of the major sources of stress for students –
Now, what does this data reflect for our young students? Time to relax and sleep. Time to reflect. Time to nurture and grow up. Long school hours and never-ending work can be very daunting. Schools can help students out by reducing their share of the workload, prioritize tasks and provide support in time management, but it isn’t just on schools. Parents and families have an important role to play to improve the flow of the seemingly wayward lives of their children.
Here are a few things you can do to help your child prioritize their tasks:
1. Each Day as a New Day
Spend a few minutes with your child every morning and help them list down the things they want to or have to do that day. First, ask them what comes as a priority according to them, and then, help them understand what you feel is important and why it should be achieved first.
As a parent, you also need to understand that what could seem more important to you may not seem that important to a child. Therefore, you need to stay patient in explaining the importance of things and make sure they understand where you’re coming from.
A good way is to set long-term and short-term tasks because not all tasks can be achieved in a single day, and you have to make your child understand this. Every day is an opportunity to learn something new and that is how the process should appear to be.
2. Jot it Down for Them
Take a book and a pen and write a list of things that need to be done. Prioritize tasks according to – most important, less important, and least important.
You can also make your child prepare this list every day and guide them through achieving their goals. Writing things down can be a good practice as it is a visual guide for the child to follow instead of something that has been verbally discussed.
You also need to take the opinion of your child in this activity and see what feels more important to them. Explain separately to them the time consumption, energy, and skills required to finish each and every task and how they would like to go about it. It’s all about making the process a bit easier and allowing them to express themselves.
3. Urgent vs Important
There are a lot of things on a day-to-day basis that are important. However, some of them have to be handled urgently, while others are less pressing. Ask your child what will happen if a certain task is done later. This will help your child to understand what needs their immediate attention and also teaches them decision-making skills.
There will also be times when they choose something that possesses less urgency but that is the part of learning. It is with these mistakes children tend to learn how to prioritize tasks and differentiate the importance and urgency of things.
Task management is not as simple as it may seem in one’s head. Even adults fail to achieve success in doing things based on priority. Parents and teachers should guide kids towards doing things based on importance, and it may take time as for them doing something fun at present may take priority over, for example, doing homework or cleaning their room.
That is because they don’t understand what takes priority over what and this is where you have to step in and guide them. Another important factor to consider is that priority may change over time, and you need to keep yourself updated about what’s really running in their minds.
Understand what caused the shift and then explain what seems the best possible to you. It will create a sense of understanding and improve the chances of them coming directly to you to discuss their tasks.
5. Allow Play Time
Teaching your child to prioritize tasks is an ongoing process. That is something your child will have to do daily. While they must learn it, this should be the primary focus of their day. How do you prioritize multiple tasks so that they you have time for yourself later in the day?
Sometimes, interruptions come up, and kids can take longer than expected on a particular task. Though it is crucial to prioritize the tasks for kids so that they can make the most out of their time, parents should also be realistic about how much can actually be achieved. `
However, everyone deserves a break and some fun time. Today’s life for children can get very tedious and it is important for them to have a distraction once every while to recharge themselves. Make sure you allow them to play and also learn the free-flowing nature of life.
These breaks will help them have time for fun and other activities while learning other practical skills to improve their task management skills.
Teaching children to regulate their day properly and manage their time is paramount. When you start early, you are laying the foundations for task management and a more structural day for them. This not only helps in time management, but also health-wise and academically as well.
Have more suggestions on how to help your child prioritize tasks? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.