Helping Your Child with Time Management and Study Skills

by Dr. Blanca Snyder
Have you finished your homework? No? What did you do with all of that time you had since school ended?

Depending on the ages and stages of your child, engaging them, and supporting them with homework can be challenging. In the early years (elementary school), homework is about habit building. How can we instill these habits in our children? Routine is key:

  • Find a consistent place in your home where your child can work with minimal distractions.
  • Have a plan: they come home, unload their items, eat a snack, and then get to work. Or maybe they need to play first. If so, then set a timer for that free play time.
  • Once ready, your child can take out their work and complete their homework. You or a sibling can be around should your child need assistance.
  • Continue to foster this routine with them.

What if they are older and have activities after school? Finding a balance between school, family, and activities can be challenging. Creating a plan on the weekend for what is ahead is a helpful organizational strategy that may benefit your child for the week. Even through high school, taking the time to sit and walk through a process of time management is helpful as the workload increases.

For example, set up a time each Sunday to:

  • Print out an empty weekly calendar schedule.
  • Have your child write in the time for each activity, e.g. School - 7:40-3:30pm, Basketball practice - 3:45-5:30 pm
  • Have your child open their school portal to see what assignments have already been posted for the week.
  • Have your child write in free time and dinner time.
  • Then, have your child find the periods of time to get homework completed. Are there due dates that are farther away? Is there group work? Can they work in the car on the way to an activity?
  • Post this calendar in an easy-to-see place at home (make copies).
  • Have your child put the calendar in their notebook or planner or take a screenshot of it.
  • Check in midweek to see how the plan is going and what may need to be changed.
  • The following Sunday, reflect on what worked and what did not work that week, and make any adjustments needed to the following week’s plan.

In addition to routine, another critical piece that helps with time management, studying, and preparing for exams is backwards planning - beginning with the due date or exam schedule in mind, and then working backwards to carve out time to study/prepare for each content area. For example, 60 minutes to review an exam that is two days away, then 30 minutes to review again the day before. Building a plan from the due date backwards helps promote clear end goals and fosters important planning skills that your child will take with them as they move onto adulthood.

As he or she moves through school and grows, your child may try different approaches to time management (e.g. using a planner, using a phone calendar, using a template), which is a net positive as they take ownership of their learning process. Working alongside your child to set a plan that works with the family schedule is key to creating that buy-in, accountability, and hopefully increased organization skills.

That said, you know your child best and how to support them. Each child is different, and there is no “one” or “right” approach, but rather, which works best for you and your family. And rest assured that in time, students do find their way!

Dr. Blanca Snyder is the PreK3-8th Grade Principal at Pinecrest Academy. Dr. Snyder earned her B.A. in Communication Studies from DePaul University, an M.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Miami, and a Doctorate in Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston. Dr. Snyder has over 10 years of experience across a range of educational settings, including educational policy and research, classroom experience, and administration. She was born and raised in Chicago and is a native Spanish speaker. She enjoys spending time with her four children, husband David and two labs. You can reach Dr. Snyder at