In our personal and professional lives, time management is one of the most important skills we could have – otherwise, how else could we manage a career, family, personal time, and everything else in life?

The concept of time management isn’t usually introduced to pre-schoolers, as adults often feel that it’s a “big concept” that children won’t understand. However, when broken down into bite-sized ideas and activities, your children will develop an understanding of time management, while establishing routines and developing discipline.

At NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool, we believe that your child’s growing years are the best years to introduce them to this valuable skill – which will influence how well they juggle schoolwork, enrichment classes, and other activities in primary school and beyond.

These are six tips for teaching your pre-schooler about time management.

1. First, let’s introduce the concept of “before and after”

Most pre-schoolers don’t understand time the way adults do, so it’s important to introduce this concept to them by using routines to structure their days. For example:


Now, help your child to gain awareness of time by showing them a clock and telling them the time each activity starts and ends.

8.30am – 9.00am   Breakfast
9.00am – 9.15am   Reading
9.15am – 9.45am   Exercise

This gives children a better understanding of the concept of “before and after”. For example, they understand that after breakfast, it’s reading time. And they’ll also know “reading time” comes before “exercise time”.

2. Next, teach your child the concept of “time”

teaching teaching children on the concept of time

A simple, yet highly effective way of introducing the concept of time to your pre-schooler is by showing them a clock and asking them to read the time every 30 minutes. You can also use this activity to teach your child how to read the big and small hands of a clock.

Once your child is familiar with reading time at 30-minute intervals, you can ask them to read the time every 20 minutes, then 15-minutes, and so on.

3. Set priorities and time limits

When your child has a better understanding of time, you can introduce time management skills. Help your child understand that with only a limited amount of time each day, they’ll need to prioritise which activities need more (or less) time.

You can start by setting priorities on a daily basis, then moving on to weekly and monthly priorities. Daily priorities include , the time needed to get ready for school, meal times, and more. In addition to these routine tasks, you can teach your child how to prioritise activities like reading time and playtime.

This is also an ideal time to teach your child how to set time limits – especially on engrossing activities like playtime and screen time.

a schedule and routine for your child to set priorities and follow

You can reinforce these concepts by asking your child to plan their daily schedule (with you guiding them through the process) – this experience also helps to build closer bonds between you and your child.

Here’s how to do so:

  1. List down all of your child’s daily tasks (like showering, eating, reading, chatting with mummy and daddy, etc.)
  2. Decide on the amount of time needed for each activity.
  3. Put these activities into a schedule!

Bonus tip: To make the schedule more fun, ask your child to personalise it with drawings and other decorations!

Because your child has taken part in the planning of their schedule, they’ll feel a sense of ownership towards it – increasing the probability of them keeping to the schedule and managing their time effectively.

4. Too young to read the time? Use a sand timer!

child with a sand timer help your child  learn the concept of time

If your toddler is too young to read the time, a sand timer (also known as an “hourglass”) can be a fun way to teach them about time – children are often mesmerised watching the sand flow from one side into another.

Begin by telling your child how much time it takes for the sand timer to empty. For example, if you have a 20-minute sand timer, then plan your activities in blocks of 20 minutes.

Start your activity and the sand timer together. And as the activity progresses, your child will be able to see one side of the sand timer slowly begin to empty. This provides them with a fantastic visual representation of time – and a good estimation of how much time has elapsed, and how much time is left.

5. Turn all this into a game!

Sometimes, parents can face resistance when implementing a schedule into their children’s lives. One fantastic solution for overcoming this is by turning time management into a points-driven game!

Here’s how it works.

Create a lists the activities in your children’s daily schedule, like this:

Date: 15 October 2020



  1. Pack schoolbag within 5 minutes


  1. Make the bed


  1. Put the toys back after playing


  1. Reading


  1. Writing


  1. Keep screen time to within 10 minutes


Total Points


Set a “points target” for your child to strive towards, and award your child with points (and praise) for accomplishing each task!

6. Motivate your child with rewards

Children learn best with positive reinforcement, so be sure to reward your child when they keep to their schedules!  You don’t need to wait till they’ve hit all their time management targets for the day, you can praise them for achieving positive results – like getting ready for school on time or reading for 20 minutes a day.

Some of the tips we’ve shared such as praise nurtures intrinsic motivation in children. We can also consider giving out praise stickers (extrinsic motivation) to encourage our children to practise time management.

my first skool praise stickers


My First Skool has created virtual “Telegram Praise stickers” that you can use to reward your child. You can get these stickers by downloading them at the links below:

Learning time management skills at My First Skool

At NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool, time management skills are an important part of our curriculum. We use schedules and routines to impart these concepts to young minds.

Additionally, we also impart other valuable life skills to children – such as independence and social skills (which we teach by having children keep their toys after use, pack their bags, return their cutlery after meals, and more).

Find out more about our infant (0 - 3 years old) and preschool (4 to 6 years old) curriculums by visiting our centres virtually! Kickstart your child’s learning journey, register them with My First Skool today!