Time management is an important aspect for a family trying to help a young athlete juggle sports, school, family, and other such commitments. Using time effectively and controlling procrastination can help every activity be enjoyable and will help a child become a more successful person later on in their life. Planning a schedule does not mean that it must be strictly followed, but more as a guideline to getting everything accomplished in a timely manner. A good time plan is the key to working more efficiently.
By actively involving the child in the daily/weekly planning of events, the child will feel more involved and have a sense on control over their life. Therefore, when they are on their own later they will have a better understanding of time management rather than not having a clue because their parents did it all for them when they were younger.
First begin by discussing with your child the length of the sport season and other activities that will be going on during that season. Such as school, holidays, birthdays, vacations, etc. Help them draw a big picture of what will be going on over the next several months.
Next, help them break this big picture down into more manageable pieces so that it is not overwhelming. Begin with a weekly schedule. Sit down at the beginning of each week (Sunday nights would probably be the best time to do this) and write down a list of major obligations of the week (i.e.. school time, games, practices,).
After that, figure out the other activities that will need to be accomplished during the week (i.e.. homework assignments, household chores, free time). By observing when a child is better at certain tasks will also help in effectively planning a schedule that everybody is happy about. For example, a child might be more likely to sit down and do homework after they have had dinner and settled down for a few minutes versus immediately getting home from practice. Ask your child when they would like to do certain tasks and let them help decide. This will allow the parents more control when having to remind the child later on that that was the time that he/she chose to do the task.
Finally, at the end of the week, review if the schedule was a success and everything got accomplished or if there were more tears than there were smiles. Talk about any problems that happened and try to solve them when planning the next week's schedule.
Being realistic about schedules is important to remember. Allow the child free time to play, watch television, talk on the phone, etc. Also allow plenty of time for meals, sleeping, traveling to practice and games, etc. By allowing the child to help plan the week, it will allow them to become more independent and more likely to be able to balance more tasks when the sport intensity level increases as they get older.
If a child's time is not managed correctly, then the child could suffer at school, not be allowed to participate in sports because their grades are too low, feel overwhelmed by having too much to do, etc. Also, by having a list of items to be done can give a child a sense of accomplishment when they can cross off items on the list that have already been completed. Effectively managing time constraints will allow a child to enjoy sports more and therefore will be more likely to continue.
Article contributed by Coaching Youth Sports, an online newsletter presenting information about learning and performing sport skills