Workshop Highlights Strategies for Children to Manage Time

Sister Shaun Kathleen, director of McGlinn Conference Center, Reading, welcomes guests and presenters to the workshop “Strategies for Teaching Time Management to Children With/Without Disabilities.” (Photos by John Simitz)

By TARA CONNOLLY Staff writer

“Time management is the ability to plan ahead to effectively complete short-term and long-term goals. What works for us as adults, will likely work for our students,” said Caroline DiPipi-Hoy Oct. 14 during the workshop “Strategies for Teaching Time Management to Children With/Without Disabilities.”

DiPipi-Hoy and Daniel Steere, authors of the book “Teaching Time Management to Learners with Autism Spectrum Disorder,” presented the workshop at McGlinn Conference and Spirituality Center, Reading.

DiPipi-Hoy opened the workshop by citing that managing one’s times critically affects success in all areas of life, including employment, community and at home.

“But the ability to tell time, while valuable, does not necessarily lead to the more useful skill of managing time effectively. Time management is a skill that is learned over a very long period of time and is learned in a longitudinal manner,” she said.

According to Steere, kids have more activities to deal with, and time management can be problematic for kids with disabilities as life becomes more complex.

“Over time, our assistance decreases with our children, and we expect more from them. As children age, we require more independence from them. Time managing college, deadlines and employment can become more difficult,” he said.

To better manage time, DiPipi-Hoy said it is important for children to learn to complete tasks in a logical order, be able to meet deadlines, stay motivated and to arrive at engagements on time.

In addition, Steere recommended that children should learn to allocate sufficient time for a specific activity, accurately estimate how long a task will take, and breakdown activities and tasks into phases.

“Estimating time is learned by trial and error. They will encounter unexpected demands – but that is something we have all learned to deal with,” he said.

Some of the barriers associated with time management for children with disabilities, according to DiPipi-Hoy, include a lack of systematic instruction about time management throughout the school year and the inability to deal with something out of the ordinary or a change in schedule.

She recommended smart phones, tablets, laptops and social media as some of the high-tech methods to assist with improving time management. Features like texts, alerts, alarms and voice recordings enhance time management.

“These devices really make time management easier and can bypass a lot of barriers. These devices are a good tool for reminders,” she said.

Some of the low-tech ways to assist with time management, according to Steere, are checklists, calendars and agendas.

“They may be low-tech, but they are tried and true. They can be used in combination with high-tech ways. One thing about low tech is that you can make it visible. For example, a note on the fridge is seen throughout the day,” he said.

“There is no single approach to time management. Using direct instruction and common sense over many years is more likely to be effective,” said Steere.

He also stressed that understanding the passage of time in an abstract way can be challenging for children with or without disabilities.

Steere advised relating something concrete to the abstract can be like using a sand hour glass or identifying how long a specific road trip will take with a known trip.

The workshop was sponsored by the diocesan Office for Ministry with Persons with Disabilities.