Classroom Tips on Time Management for Students


As teachers, we know the importance of getting our students to work independently and be self-sufficient. Not only does this squash the constant, “Miss, I don’t know what to do!” or “Tommy, it’s been 10 minutes, and you haven’t started!” But it also helps our students take charge of their learning. We can make it happen by implementing time management for students.

It’s likely that you have some time management systems in place, but you might be the sole manager of it all. For instance, you are reminding students of time left in an activity or repeating what to do x10. Instead, let’s work on putting the responsibility for learning and time management into our students’ hands.

Set Clear Time Management Expectations

One of the best ways we can help students best manage their time is by setting crystal clear expectations. If you set the expectation that it’s okay for students to goof around during work time or consistently turn in incomplete work, then that’s the results you will get.


Before you work on time management for students, you need to have clear classroom expectations. I use this positive behavior management system in my classroom. It’s excellent for setting the tone at the beginning of the year or revamping mid-year when things have gone awry (because it happens!).

Student’s independent work is part of classroom expectations. One way I put the responsibility of time management into students’ hands is by displaying what students should be doing at all times. You can write this on the board or use a website like Classroomscreen.

Classroomscreen website in action during distance learning

For older students, you can state the activity you are working on with the time allotted (for example, independently ready your book – 15 min). For younger students, you can use images and symbols to help set these clear expectations.

If you want to read more about my positive behavior management system, you can check out this blog here.

Managing Several Tasks

When working on time management with students, you want to avoid dumping a long list of tasks on students with no assistance. Even an adult can get overwhelmed in a situation like that. There are a few ways you can break down a large number of tasks –

First, you can chunk the tasks. For example, you may give three to-do’s for the day. Instead of listing out everything that needs to be done, start with just the first item. After that task is complete, set expectations and display the next task. My Color-It-In Reading Resources are perfect for this. Students complete a practice page, then take a quick brain break to color. Then, they’re back to work on the next page, motivated and encouraged by their next coloring break.

Another way to help students manage their time is prioritizing tasks. For example, you may give students a list of three items. However, you talk about which tasks are the most important, and have them put a star next to it.

Lastly, you can provide something as simple as a checklist with their tasks. This works great for work like editing and revising writing or completing a science lab. By having a check-list, you can chunk things into smaller pieces (step-by-step tasks), and students are able to check off what has been completed.

Using Visual Guides

We talked about displaying your expectations in your classroom, and there are other visual guides that can help students with time management. The first is timers. A big component for time management for students is not being able to keep track of time.

You can use websites like Online stopwatch or a physical timer such as TimeTimer. If students are working through a series of tasks, you can give them personal timers or link a timer on your LMS for them to use. Just make sure it’s a pre-set timer, so they don’t have to punch in the number.


Another great visual guide for time management is a Must Do and May Do chart. On one side, you list out the activities students must do. On the other side are tasks they may do. Students have to complete the must side first. This helps students manage their tasks visually, and is an incentive for getting done with the must do tasks.

Early Finishers

When working on time management for students, you may have students excel at the skill – to the point that they are done early! Whoo-hoo! Now, you just have to figure out what they can do for the remaining time.

The Must Do and May Do chart is an easy place to start with early finishers. Once they finish the must do tasks of the day, they immediately begin working on the other side. Now, how’s that for taking charge of learning!

Another way to manage early finishers is to have an easy to access place in your classroom with early finishers assignments. I call this the “I’m Done, Now What?” section. They can be task cards, review pages, or even things they can do to help around the classroom. Just make sure they know where to find these items and how to use them. You can download the FREE editable “I’m Done, Now What?” at the top of the page.

As you are working on time management for students, make sure to keep parents and guardians in the loop. Especially as students get older, if you still see them struggling with time management, you need to clue the parents in. I talk about positive communication with parents in this blog post, but establishing great relationships early on can make these conversations easier.

I also recommend keeping track of these conversations in a parent communication binder. Emails, texts, voicemails – all of it needs to be documented. I also record how many positive interactions with the parents and guardians I have had, so I can be sure I am fostering a great relationship.

I hope some of these ideas help you with time management in your classroom! Just remember, at the end of the day, they are kids. They will still need reminders, repetition, and guidance. These tools can help them be more responsible for their learning, but even as adults, we are still learning to better manage our time!

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