How to Create a Timetable and Stick to It

It’s the beginning of the new year and we see our children back to school with a ton of things to do. New subjects, homework, upcoming tests, co-curricular activities (CCAs), competitions, and mini quizzes etc. Your child might be feeling overwhelmed by the list of things to do and might not know what to prioritise. Perhaps he or she has created a timetable to stay productive but is not following through, due to different reasons. It could be the lack of realistic expectations on the time spent on each task, procrastination, or cramming too many things to accomplish within a day. Creating a timetable may seem like an easy thing to do, but it really isn’t. Sticking to the timetable that you have created is even harder if the timetable has not been constructed properly. Here are some tips for your child to create a timetable and effectively stick to it.

Have a List of Tasks to Accomplish

At school, your child might have so many things to do. He or she might lose track of the tasks at hand. Even before your child starts working on their timetable, it is important to have them list out the tasks that they have to accomplish. From homework, to revision, to tuition homework, to basketball training, have your child list out things at hand on a piece of paper and ask your child how much time needs to be devoted to each task. While listing, your child can also indicate the amount of time per week needed to complete each task. This way, he or she will be more aware of the tasks that need to be done. 

Prioritise Tasks at Hand

Once your child has listed out all the tasks that need to be completed, ask them to list them in order of priority. This can be challenging for your child as they might not know how to prioritise their tasks. Hence, it is important to guide them with probing questions. For example, you can ask your child whether there are any upcoming exams, tests, quizzes that they need to prepare for. From there, you can ask them to prioritise revision based on the weightage of the exams, urgency of preparations, and the amount of time required to prepare for them. If they are in a CCA that requires them to prepare for competitions, you can probe them with similar questions on the urgency and the amount of time required to prepare for them too. From there, they can create a timetable factoring in the tasks that they should prioritise. 

Tailoring the Timetable to Individual Needs 

Every child has their own way of working productively. A timetable for one child may not work for another. Your child might be more accustomed to studying in the morning while other children are more productive in the afternoon. Hence, it is important to tailor the timetable to your child’s needs. If your child is weaker at a particular subject, he or she might require more time to study it or finish homework related to that subject. Hence, the timetable can also be tweaked according to the amount of time needed to cover specific subjects that the child is weaker in. 

Buffer Time

Crafting a realistic timetable also helps your child to stick to it better. It’s important for your child to understand that they might not be productive all the time. On some days, they also might not have the capacity to finish all the tasks that they set out to accomplish, and that’s okay. The timetable can be adjusted if more time is required to finish a particular task. Also remind your child that rest is important, and that they should allocate time for enough rest before they attempt their next task. Having breaks and enough time to rest helps with preventing burnout and keeps your child productive in the long run. Including buffer time between tasks will also help if there are delays to accomplishing tasks for various reasons. 

Include Time that Rewards Hard Work

If there’s a day in your child’s timetable that is heavily packed with work to do, your child might feel overwhelmed by the amount of work and unmotivated to complete their tasks. As parents, you can encourage them to reward themselves for a hard day’s work by asking them to reserve time that they can spend on things that they like doing. For example, if your child enjoys spending time with friends, you can encourage them to reserve time to hang with their friends at the mall or watch a movie together. If your child likes to do sports, propose a family outing to do sports together. This way, your child has something to look forward to at the end of the day and would be more motivated to finish their work quickly so that they can enjoy themselves afterwards. 

By encouraging them to give themselves time to do things that they like, you are also introducing to them the concept of work-life balance and the need to manage time efficiently so that they can have enough time to relax and go for recreational activities that they enjoy, or spend time with their closed ones. Overall, having a timetable that factors in rest and recreation will help your child to cultivate a healthier lifestyle. 

These are some tips that might help your child to create a timetable setting realistic expectations while encouraging them to stick to it. It might take some time to formulate a timetable that works best for your child. Encourage your child whenever they feel disheartened by their inability to stick to the schedule that they first planned out, and explore with them ways on how they can improve their time management. Over time, your child would pick up the skill to organise their schedule themselves and know what timetable works best for them. The commitments at school can be overwhelming for your child, so it’s important to be supportive of them and understanding of their needs. 

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