Children have this ability to spend long moments choosing just the right color from the crayon box for their latest masterpiece, or idly tracking an ant’s progress across the sidewalk. Or whatever task might suit their current fancy. The ideas behind now, later, in 3 sleeps are too abstract for very small children.
When school starts a set schedule is introduced, but it is usually someone else’s responsibility to keep track of the time and stick to the schedule. Mom or dad takes care of the morning routine until the hand off to the teacher for the school day and back to mom or dad for the remainder of the day. The idea of keeping your own time may be introduced by giving the child a watch, but ownership to stay on schedule isn’t handed over.
My parents had an early digital clock that was designed like a rolodex with the numbers on plastic pieces that would flip. We spent entirely too much time trying to watch the exact moment when the next number would flip over. But it was Sunday, or vacation, or we were waiting for mom’s ‘minute’ to be up until we could do whatever we had asked to do.
Somewhere in late grade school or early high school ownership of the schedule is handed off to the child. Sometimes because the child wants this responsibility, but more often just because – the child is suddenly expected to understand how the passage of time affects their adherence to a schedule that the child has little control over. The child starts to get rated on time management having been taught how to tell time, but not given any lessons in creating a structured schedule except by osmosis.
Missing due dates for homework, not being prepared for a test become the consequences that the child faces, with perhaps a teacher and one or both parents peering over the youngster (or more likely at this point, teenager) asking why. Did the teenager understand the assignment? Did he or she write it down?
The adults never seem to ask questions about the teenager’s understanding about time and scheduling. Did the teenager take into account assignments from other classes, after school activities, a job, any other variable that could affect the outcome like a tiff with a friend or a big dance?
In college I took a Stage Movement class (teaching actors to understand how body position and movement can affect character and how to translate actions for the stage) and one ay many students were struggling with an activity. The instructor started asking how many of us had crawled as babies, which made us laugh. Then she explained that there is a correlation between crawling and your understanding of body movement. She had us all get down on all fours and crawl around the room for the remainder of the class period to pick up that movement knowledge that some had missed.
How many of us ever consciously thought about our relationship to time – how it affects our world, how the quality of time changes depending on the day ahead or the task at hand? We might need to go back and crawl to relearn how the structure of the passage of time affects all that we do.
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations