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Monday, September 26, 2011

Teaching Time Management

tomato_timer1-150x150 What better time than the beginning of the school year to practice focusing on the task at hand? Mom, if you're anything like me, you need this as well as your children ;)  Distractions often get the better of us and then, when the day is over, we look back and wonder where the time went!

When it's time to focus on accomplishing book or seatwork, you may want to try the Pomodoro Technique with your students.

The Pomodoro Technique  was created in the 1980's and is practiced by professional teams and individuals around the world. It is named after the tomato-shaped timer that the creator of this technique used. The purpose of Pomodoro is to eliminate the anxiety of time and to enhance focus and concentration. Sounds like something you would like to try? I will explain it to you with school age children in mind.

The five simple steps, as outlined on the website (and modified by me for the purposes of homeschooling), are:

1. Choose a task to be accomplished. Write it down on your schedule or on a To Do list that your student has access to.
2. Set the timer  for 5-20 minutes, depending on the age of your children. As a general rule, the younger the child, the shorter the time.
3. Work on the task until the timer rings, then put a check on your paper beside the task.
4. Take a short break (no working!) for a few minutes (you determine, depending on length of task time you have chosen, but no more than 5 minutes.
5. Set the timer for another 'pomodoro' or block of time to focus on the task at hand. When the timer rings again, put down another check.

Continue this until the task has been completed. Then take a longer break (up to 30 minutes).  If it takes more than 5-7 pomodoros, break the task down next time. If it takes less than 1 pomodoro, combine with another activity.

Interruptions will come up (both internal and external). With the Pomodoro technique, students will learn to deal with them by putting an apostrophe by the checks  and writing down the distractions (with mom's help at first), which will be dealt with later. This will help improve study habits and strengthen determination to complete tasks. Students can also learn to challenge themselves with this method i.e. “How many pomodoros will it take to finish this math lesson”?

If you are at all interested in trying this, I'd encourage you to check out the website where you can download free resources and get more detailed information on the process.

Maybe you’re already using an effective,  modified approach of the Pomodoro Technique. Please share!

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