23 December 2013 07:26 AM

Take Your Time!

by rbavaria

My dad, a military man we used to call The Major, dispensed advice readily.  How to take responsibility for yourself.  (“Excuses only satisfy the man who makes them.”)  How to neaten up after yourself.  (“A place for everything, and everything in its place.”)  How to learn from your mistakes, as long as you don’t keep making the same ones.  (“Even a jackass doesn’t step in the same hole twice.”)  And the importance of taking your time when you’re working on something worthwhile.  (“Haste makes waste.”)


That last one is particularly important for students as they do their schoolwork.  I’ve been teaching a long, long time, and the stories I could tell of kids – smart kids – who screw up an assignment, a test, or a project simply because they rushed through it. 

“Oh, I didn’t see that instruction!”

“We were supposed to answer the odd numbered problems?”

“How could I misspell so many simple words?”

Take your time,  I tell kids that every day.  Why’s everyone in such a rush? 


Here are some thoughts.

1. Take time to think.  Kids are impatient, that’s a fact.  They speed through everything.  It’s up to us adults, their parents and teachers, to help them see the importance of thinking before acting.  A few minutes’ thought can save several hours of make-up work.

2. Take time to do your work.  I may sound like The Major, but haste really does make waste.  Oh, the mistakes we make when we’re in a run and a fall-down!

3. Take time to proofread and check.  Training them to go over their work before they consider it done (let alone turning it in) is a gift they’ll use forever.  They’ll find all sorts of silly mistakes in arithmetic, spelling, or basic facts. 

4. Take time to develop the habit.  Help them get in the habit of taking their time on activities that require thought and consideration.  Give them a specific homework time duration.  A good rule of thumb is ten minutes per grade – first grade, ten minutes; fifth grade, fifty.  Make sure they’re busily engaged during the whole time.  Check on the results.  If they insist they’re finished early, give them a few extra spelling words or a few more double-digit multiplication problems.  You’re the boss.


Enlist the help of study buddy friends.  I’m a big fan of kids having study buddies.  When they study with friends, they engage in friendly rivalry, mutual encouragement, and celebration when they’re successful.  For major assignments, I require pairs of students to check on each other’s work.  If I find a dumb error when I’m grading papers, each one loses points.  This keeps them alert, and it greatly minimizes my homework time!  So, there.


We tell them to spend the time to be successful on the sports fields and with their hobbies.  We can also convince them to take the time necessary for academic success.  When they see those improved report cards, they’ll make the connection between time and good grades.


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