Teaching Time Management to Children with ADHD

Teachers' tools and techniques to help ADHD students get organized and use classroom time more efficiently.

Time Management Tips for Teachers of ADHD Children ADDitude Magazine

If punctuality is a problem, include it as a goal on a daily report card.


Tackle Big Projects One Step at a Time

Book reports, science fair projects, and other long-term assignments can overwhelm students with ADHD.

To help them stay the course, break the project into smaller, manageable parts - getting a topic approved, finding research materials, submitting an outline, and so on. Create a timeline for completing the project, and assign a due date for each stage.

To keep students on schedule, closely monitor their progress. Post deadlines and refer to them frequently, and provide feedback on their work. Enlist parents to help with pacing - such as getting library resources promptly - and give them the project guidelines and timeline to post at home.

For students who need extra time, assign projects early - to give them a head start.


Making good use of the hours and minutes of the day requires planning, prioritizing, and sticking to a schedule. These skills don't come easily to children with attention deficit disorder (ADD ADHD). How can you help your students do a better job of estimating how long it take to complete a task or to get somewhere? How can you get them to pay attention to due dates?

Here are some helpful strategies.

Practice time estimation.
Make a game out of predicting, timing, and checking students' estimates of the time needed for various activities. How long does it take to walk from the classroom to the school office? To complete an assignment? Ask parents to help their child estimate and time various activities at home.

Use an analog clock.
Digital clocks are easier to read, but an old-fashioned clock with hands gives students a better sense of how swiftly time passes.

Set a timer to motivate targeted behaviors.
To help with transitions, for example, tell students they have five minutes to finish their work, and set an alarm to signal when time is up.

Make sure students begin tasks promptly.
Children with ADHD often use delaying tactics—like sharpening a pencil—to put off doing tasks they find boring. Stand next to your dawdlers to get them started.If punctuality is a problem, include it as a goal on a daily report card or as part of a behavioral contract.

Putting it on paper

A written class schedule provides structure for the school day and breaks time into meaningful chunks. Review it each morning, and refer to it throughout the day, noting the time allotted for each activity. With younger students, let pictures convey the day's events.

Attach a daily to-do list to each desk, and see that your students get in the habit of crossing off accomplished tasks. Have them add personal reminders—like "bring lunch money to office" or "return library books"—and work together on prioritization. Encourage parents to use checklists to improve time management at home.

Take a few minutes at the end of the subject period or school day to lead students in recording assignments in their planners. Present assignments both verbally and visually, and post them in a designated place in the room. Encourage your students to get in the habit of checking their planners on a regular basis.

Instruct students to enter an assignment on the page showing the date it is due. Make sure it's done correctly - AD/HD students tend to write things in the wrong place - or assign "study buddies" who can check on each other. (Choose a well-organized partner for a student with ADHD.)

If a student has difficulty copying assignments, provide them on a typed page that she can paste into her planner.

In addition to assignment due dates, make sure that your students are entering tests, class trips, and other events in their planners. Post a monthly calendar in the classroom, as well.

Adapted with permission from sandrarief.com and How to Reach and Teach Children with ADD/ADHD, Second Edition, Copyright 2005 by Sandra F. Rief.

This article comes from the June/July 2006 issue of ADDitude.

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TAGS: ADHD Time Management, For Teachers of ADHD Children, ADHD Products

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