Timer Tips for Parenting and Homeschooling
Using the timer for math motivations, times when you are on the telephone, and changes in routine.
by: Delana H Stewart
Tip # 1: Math Motivation—If your child struggles with math (not necessarily correctness, but speed—and staying on task) then try this technique. Start with a row of problems from the homework assignment. Block out with a separate sheet of paper the rest of the page. Time your child completing one problem. Then, set the timer for the appropriate time for him to complete the rest of the problems on that row. See if he can beat the time. No reward is necessary! Kids love to break their own records! As he improves at this, set the timer for him to complete 2 rows of the homework page. Then later, set the timer for the whole page. If he can’t stay focused with that much, back up to timing a shorter portion.
Tip # 2: Mom on the Phone—Do you have a young child who likes to “need” you right when you get on the phone? If the child is 4-8 years old this trick should work. Tell “Suzy” that anytime you are on the phone when she “needs” you, that she should bring you the timer. You will set the timer for a beforehand agreed upon time (like 5-10 minutes) and she will wait quietly for you (often watching the timer) until the timer dings. This should be enough time to handle the phone call and arrange a call back time. Then, when the timer dings, give Suzy your undivided attention. Kids like to feel some control and feel totally helpless when you cannot give them your attention. For the 7-8 year old, you may be able to set the timer for 15-20 minutes. After awhile, Suzy will forget all about bringing you the timer when you are on the phone. This technique really worked with our youngest son. It saved some embarrassing moments on the telephone and gave me the opportunity to take calls peacefully. This may even work for teaching moments. Try setting it for 20-30 minute teaching periods.
Tip # 3: A Change of Pace. Are you having difficulty motivating a particular child? Or, perhaps, one child is having difficulty with one particular subject? Time to change the routine! This really works. Try putting the difficult subject first. Being less tired can help a difficult subject seem easier. Sometimes just changing the subjects around can be just what it takes. One time my husband told our teens and preteen about the time he used to work 4 ten-hour days. He gave them the option of having school 4 days a week (if they could get it all done) and taking a 3-day weekend. This brought the motivation high for the last two months of that school year. It can be good for a period of time to try something different.
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