It is important to teach children about time management and goal setting for a smooth year ahead
There is nothing so valuable as time. At the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, most adults wonder at how quickly time passes. Unfortunately, no school curriculum deals with an understanding of the nature, and our perception, of time. As a fact of life, time is the most important factor of all.
Time is central to the effective management of schools and all effective teaching and learning. Time is central to the management of the workplace, the household, and relationships.
In schools, we create timetables, allocating minutes to subjects, distributing the workload and managing time through structure. Schools organise time, but do not teach the concept as a subject.
It is important to begin the year focused on the nature and management of time. Time, after all, is the difference between not knowing and knowing, perceptions of failure and success, sickness and healing, here and there, movement and stillness.
Time is moments, chosen or incidental, given to (or spent on) the other things we do. The best beginning-of-the-year gift we can give to ourselves and the children over whom we have responsibility and care, is a deeper understanding of the nature of time.
A purposeful life, an academic life, requires an understanding of how time is to be utilised throughout the year, so that intention is realised, or at least to provide a direction for effort and a sense of personal fulfillment.
Time is intrinsically related to discipline. In the context of education, discipline is concentrated effort over time. Discipline applies time to begin and also finish things to the best possible standard. Discipline is time with focus.
Time cannot be stopped. Excitement about an upcoming birthday does not make time pass more quickly, and fear about an assessment does not buy more time. Future things will come to pass.
In this regard, time compels wise decision-making; actions undertaken now have future effect. This is very important when setting a course for a successful year. Time wasted now cannot be redeemed or crammed into three-hours of compressed understanding later. Time wasted now will manifest as stress and anxiety or weakness later. Confidence comes from time invested in preparation, planning and working with alertness.
When planning a year around the importance of understanding time, there are crucial things to consider. Thinking, processing, understanding, knowing… these take time.
What is read today is understood more deeply tomorrow. The exercises done today build adaptive strength, the benefits of which are seen tomorrow. People reading today, have improved understanding immediately, but if they read with focus and critical mind, what they read will influence cognitive growth tomorrow and next week and next year. Similarly, people training for a long race requiring much stamina know that a long training run done on Sunday, leads to significant ease and pace on Thursday’s run, later in the week.
Understanding time, means knowing that effort and reward are related, although sometimes, the link is not immediately apparent. Wisdom arises from the patience to know that effort made is never wasted, even when results are delayed. The focus then becomes on enjoying the effort for its own intrinsic reward. Whilst it is usual to want reward for effort, maturity and responsibility arise when people act in ways that are beneficial to themselves because having personal standards matters, even when there is no external acknowledgement.
A deep understanding of time means that goals should be set to help to concentrate effort. However, goals may not be met in the period allocated or designated. Often goals take longer to achieve than intended, because real life gets in the way of a great idea or a noble pursuit. This is important, because it helps us to understand that intention guides action and also that goals are most fulfilling when earned, despite setbacks and challenges.
Understanding time also means that we understand each child has their own strengths, their own journey to uncover what ‘works’ for them, who they are, and to know how to deal with and appreciate the problems and challenges brought by everyday life. Patience understands that time does not require immediate responses to all issues, problems or challenges. Immediacy may be required in an emergency, but most of life is not a series of emergencies. This means that an approach to time can be brought that integrates stillness, reason and deep thinking into decision-making.
If responsible adults always react with impulsiveness, anger, or disappointment at perceptions of ‘failure’ or where expectations are unmet, then young people can learn to fear risk taking. Addressing ‘failure’ with anger is a failure role-modelled by the adult. This places control ahead of an understanding of time. Yet time teaches that time itself cannot be controlled. Knowing what to control, what can effectively be controlled and understanding self-control are all important.
Time brings change, challenges, and an opportunity to understand. Time beckons to be known now: it is time.