At age seven or eight, it’s hard to comprehend the limits of the human lifespan; but it still pays to start early on practicing wise use of time. Are you emphasizing and modeling the following points with your children?
Routine Is Important
Spontaneity and flexibility have their place, but not as excuses for making up each day’s schedule as you go. Once children outgrow the need to cry for help at every discomfort, they benefit greatly from the security of regular routine. Not from having every day fixed in the identical pattern with no room for exceptions—especially not at the growing-fast age—but from:
- Established times for meals, bed, and getting up in the morning
- Consistency in the time reserved for chores, homework, and other regular activities
- Weekly as well as daily routines (family nights, religious services, Friday afternoon down time)
- Some “ritual” surrounding all the above (grace before meals, bedtime story in the evenings, family prayer before leaving for church)
When kids know what to expect, they use time more effectively because there’s more opportunity to practice consistent habits, without “I can do it later” arguments.
Overscheduling is the great pandemic of our age, and children as well as adults struggle with pressure to accept every invitation, follow every link, and jump at every opportunity until they can’t stop to pick up a dropped paper without throwing the whole day off schedule. Best to limit extracurricular activities to one or two at a time, and to make a habit of allowing twice the time that seems reasonable for projects and errands. And definitely don’t become the overeager parent who signs kids up for everything in sight without even checking with the kids!
Everyone Needs Priorities
The most effective people know their own passions, abilities, and goals—and are committed enough to say “No” to whatever might steal time from their true purposes. Even preschoolers display clues to their ideal life directions: encourage them to be their best true selves, without pressure to try everything that looks attractive to you.
The Long Run Counts
The easiest way to waste a life is in chasing instant gratification: impulse buying on credit, choosing a career solely for income or status potential, letting meaningful goals lapse because doing nothing is so much easier. You do your kids a disservice by encouraging them in this direction, if you jump in to “fix things” at the first hint of frustration. If they want something that costs more than a week’s allowance, let them save up for it. If they want to sign up for an extra-challenging activity, give your blessing. In any form, the best possible use of time is sharpening responsibility and maximizing potential!
USING SCHOOL DAYS WELL
At Shady Oak, we know that the best-spent learning time is active: emphasis on play and student participation, attention to individual skills and needs. If your primary-age children get too little of that in public school, and you’ve considered that a privately run school could offer more effective education, contact us to learn more about our approach to learning.
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!