Some days do you feel like time slips you by and other days just seem to drag on for hours? Do you feel like there is just too much to do during the day that you never think you will have enough time to complete it all? Managing our time as early childhood educators can be easier said than done. Whether it is a misbehaving child, or an unexpected fire drill, some days our time is thrown out of whack and we don’t have any control. So now what? Time management for teachers becomes imperative or you’re drowning.
What is Time Management and Why Does It Matter?
Time management is defined as the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between different activities (Mind Tools, 2022). When we are using our time effectively we feel productive, reduce our stress, and build consistency in our classrooms and programs. In other words, you feel in control of your time. This allows for a wonderful, happy day that we can meet our objectives.
You know these days. There are no behavior issues in your classroom. Circle time goes as planned. All of the classrooms adhere to the shared schedule on the playground. Lunch goes without any messes. There are no problems. In other words, a day that NEVER happens in child care. Yes, we all have the ideal days in mind for our programs. But how do we manage our time, and feel in control in an early childhood or child care program where many days we are not in complete control?
Strategies To Help You Get Everything Done
Organize the Day
Time management starts with setting priorities and organizing the day around the most important tasks. Prioritize your work based on the importance and impact of the task. Determine if something can wait another day to complete or ensure that the “hold” for that project doesn’t negatively impact others in the process of waiting. Before starting your day, make sure you have all of your supplies ready for the lessons, activities and projects. Having an organizer allows you to plan ahead for the week and saves time having to look for things throughout the day. Create a schedule, allowing you time to be spent on the activities rather than preparing for them.
Plan for Crises
It is better to plan ahead for potential problems before facing them in the classroom, as urgent crises can distract us from their goals within the classroom or the home. By learning about students before they enter the classroom, teachers can create a plan of action to avoid triggers and stop distractions early. Ensure you have a medical and safety plan. Check, refill and document when you use emergency supplies, so you can avoid running out in a crisis. Update parent call lists and information often. Create an “instruction manual” for new teachers, subs, or volunteers. This will lessen the amount of time spent looking for information and give everyone the opportunity to focus on the crisis at hand.
Set Aside Personal Time
Prioritizing time for personal needs is a NECESSITY! When teachers are exhausted due to lack of personal care and time, it is possible that the classroom becomes less effective and efficient. Implementing time-saving plans only works when a teacher is energetic, healthy and refreshed!
- Read You Can Stop the Burn-OUT (coming soon!)
Keep Lessons Simple
As a teacher, I often think that every single lesson needs to be a masterpiece. Although it’s important to keep our students engaged and on their toes, planning a simple and fun lesson can be just as effective. In the Experience Curriculum, the lessons and activities, not only are engaging, but they list all the necessary supplies, how to organize the materials and use your time more efficiently.
Use Planning Time Wisely
Set aside time each week for planning. From my own experience, I know how easy it can be to start talking to another adult as soon as you are out of your classroom and into planning time. Surprisingly, you can accomplish so much more when you use your time wisely.
Consider these time management tips:
- Shut your door so others are less likely to enter and start a conversation.
- Position yourself so you cannot easily be seen from the door.
- Make a checklist of the things you’d like to accomplish during your planning time..
- Work outside your classroom in an isolated location.
- Discover your preferred work environment. Find a place where all other work and distractions are minimized. This could be a meeting room, outside, or even a quiet area in your home.
- Do not check your email or answer the phone. Protect this time.
- When an unscheduled visitor shows up, stand. It helps end the interruption faster.
Reflect and Move Forward
Sometimes we get caught up in what didn’t go well in a lesson or how things could have gone differently. Although it’s important to reflect on our teaching, it’s equally important to keep moving forward. Learn from the past, change what needs changing, but keep pressing on! Every day is a new day, so embrace it!
By understanding what time management is and working through strategies, it is possible to keep up with the educational and developmental needs of each child, manage urgent situations immediately and avoid falling behind when unexpected events occur. Time management is an important part of providing quality education and meeting the needs of every student.
After all, the most valuable resource a teacher has is time!
Download the Time Management Worksheet
Use this time management worksheet to help manage your priorities.
Define each of your initiatives as either:
Working with children can be challenging, rewarding, and let’s face it…. Stressful! But with confidence, proven techniques and strategies you can start each day with the knowledge and understanding ready to succeed.
Join us each session as we tackle a new area of professional development. Perfect for all educators to build confidence and strategies to support their work every day.
Schedule and Topics
- Monday, December 5, 2022, 1 pm EST- New staff, LOADS of nerves
- Monday, December 12, 2022, 1 pm EST- Health, Safety and YOU!
- Monday, December 19, 2022, 1 pm EST- The Importance of Play
- Monday, January 9, 2023, 1 pm EST- Scheduling Routines
- Monday, January 23, 2023, 1 pm EST- 100 Languages of Children
- Monday, January 30, 2023, 1 pm EST- Oh Me, Oh My! Circle time has gone Awry!
- Monday, February 6, 2023, 1 pm EST- Hot Buttons: How will YOU React?
- Monday, February 13, 2023, 1 pm EST- Time Management and YOU
- Monday, February 27, 2023, 1 pm EST- YOU Can Stop the Burn out: Work-Life Balance for Child Care Professionals
Mind Tools. (2022). What is time management? https://www.mindtools.com/arb6j5a/what-is-time-management
Boender, Chad. (2022). 5 Time Management Tips for Kindergarten Teachers. Western Governors University. https://www.wgu.edu/heyteach/article/5-time-management-tips-for-kindergarten-teachers1810.html
Center for Teaching Excellence. (2022). Tips for Time Management. University of South Carolina. https://sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/cte/teaching_resources/maintainingbalance/time_management/index.php
Duncan, Apryl. (2020). Teaching Your Kids Time Management. Verywell Family. https://www.verywellfamily.com/how-to-teach-your-kids-time-management-skills-4126588
Estroff, Sharon. D. (2021). The Age-by-Age Guide to Teaching Kids Time Management. Scholastic Parents. https://www.scholastic.com/parents/family-life/parent-child/teach-kids-to-manage-time.html
The Editorial Team. (2021). 5 Time Management Tips for Teachers.Resilient Educator. https://resilienteducator.com/classroom-resources/five-time-management-tips-for-teachers/