posted Nov 7, 2010, 3:41 PM by Glenda Durano   [ updated Nov 7, 2010, 4:03 PM ]

During “crunch time,” when students—especially seniors—are facing exams, projects, extracurricular duties, holiday chores, and every form of imaginable pressure (especially if they are still working on college applications), it’s tempting for parents to try to alleviate some of their student’s pain by taking over a few of those tasks.  However, before you start doing something that is your student’s responsibility, stop and ask yourself whether or not you are actually helping or if you are simply postponing a difficult, but necessary lesson. 

            Each of us has 24 hours in a day.  It’s a constant commodity.  One of the most valuable lessons anyone can learn is effective time management…and how much better it is, if you learn it while you are young!  In fact, in college, lack of time management is one of the primary reasons that over 30% of college freshmen drop out of school!  In college, a student has to learn how to balance half a dozen midterms and projects all being due the same week as the big homecoming dance!  It’s a daunting task, to say the least.

            Does this mean you allow your student to flounder in high school so he’ll learn his lesson “the hard way?”  Of course not!  Help your student polish his time management skills by allowing him to explore what conditions cause him to be most productive.  Consider the following tips:

*Most people have a “best” time of day.  That time should intentionally be set aside for academic endeavors, not facebooking friends or watching TV.

*Help your student discover his ideal study environment, and stay firm regarding lack of distractions.  Science has proven that, regardless of what people say, a blaring television does NOT help a student study.  If your student prefers music, it should be kept at a low level. 

*Have your student physically and psychologically prepare to study.  Provide adequate light, plentiful supplies, comfortable surroundings (but not too comfortable), and if preferred, snacks and drinks.  Eliminate all unnecessary distractions, from cell phones to siblings. (Well…don’t eliminate the siblings…just make sure they don’t distract!)

*Encourage your student to mindfully discover when he gets off track with his studying, and ask himself, “What do I need to do so that this doesn’t happen again?”

*Help your student discover his most effective means of studying.  Some people work best by doing the most difficult assignment first; others prefer to “work up to it,” doing easier assignments first.  Some students compensate for a short attention span by dividing their tasks into small chores and working piecemeal; others prefer finishing a complete project before moving on to the next.  

*If your student is working on a team project, make sure each student fulfills his own responsibility.  Equal division of labor and use of appropriate strengths are two keys to effective teamwork.

*Don’t allow your student to get behind the power curve.  Catching up in school is much more stressful than staying on top of things.  Yes, that may mean that a fun activity is sacrificed, but careful planning can avoid that.

*Your student should learn to keep a calendar with all academic deadlines, study schedules (especially preparing ahead of time!), social activities, and personal obligations.  As the student progresses through high school, he should gain more control of his agenda. If he needs to readjust his study schedule in order to accommodate a social invitation, he should be able to do so, but he must do so successfully (and success, in terms of academics, is defined by excellent work finished in a timely manner, demonstrated by a good grade).  Parents should oversee this calendar to a certain extent, particularly as the student is learning how to plan ahead and prioritize. 

*Stress the importance of sleep.  Pulling an all nighter is not a solution to poor time mangement.  Additionally, make sure your student has time for healthy meals.

            Corrie Ten Boom said, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.”  Effective time management transforms us from busy people to productive people.  If Jesus is Lord of your life, He’s also Lord of your calendar.  Demonstrate self-control and become a better steward of the time that God has given you.  Time management isn’t just for students; it’s for everyone.