Using a timer can help a student manage his time efficiently and transition from one activity to another. It may take a little practice, but a timer can be a helpful tool that a child can eventually use on his own.
Let’s say I’m working with a boy named Adam. Adam comes home from school, walks in the door and likes to spend some time getting a snack, playing a video game, decompressing from the school day, etc.
That’s totally cool. Adam should absolutely do that.
For about 15 minutes or so.
SO MANY kids have a hard time leaving the chill time to start homework. (Us adults have trouble with this too!) Procrastination is a black hole.
My suggestion: use a timer. When the timer goes off, it’s time to move on to the next task.
I also use timers for keeping track of the time a student and I can spend on a task before we need to move on to another assignment. I may say to a student “Let’s read for 10 minutes, then we should move on to your math homework.” Then we will set the timer accordingly.
Many children feel anxious about time; they worry that they will work too long on one thing and run out of time to work on other assignments. Using a timer can be reassuring for many of these children. They can glance up at any time, see how much time is remaining, and (hopefully) go back to work.
Timers can be distracting for some students at first, especially young children. These kiddos may need some coaching. Talk openly about what it is (a tool, not a toy) and why we use it (to keep track of time for us so we can free up our brains to work on other things.) I add a little spiel about how the timer is supposed to help us and not be a distraction or a problem. When working with young children. I let the student “play” with the timer for a few minutes to satisfy any curiosity. I explain how to set it, stop it, reset it, etc.
Once we begin using the timer to keep track of time while working, I usually have the student set the time, push ‘start’ when we begin, then put the timer off to the side. Some children want to continually check it. (This is why the TimeTimer is helpful…a student can quickly glance up to the see the time remaining.) I give them one “check” and advise them to use it wisely.
This Jedi mind trick usually works.
So, using a timer may take a little coaching on the front end, but it’s often worth it.
Please leave your comments and share your experiences…What has worked for you and your child? We are a community of parents and teachers who work with children with learning differences; we are here to learn from each other!
Check out the link below for info on using the Time Timer: