One of the biggest problems parents and caregivers encounter in regards to homework is trying to manage time. When a child is old enough to make the decision of when homework is to be done, something like the Time Tracker from Learning Resources can be a huge help. Not only are there visual displays and alerts but six unique sounds that can be used for different tasks, subjects or allotments of time. You can divide up their time for homework, sports, television or video games, family time and getting ready for bed or any combination of activities that your child enjoys.
The Time Tracker is extremely easy to use and has been something that has traveled all over our house. It can be used to give kids a fair warning that their video game time is about to come to an end or that they need to get ready for dinner. You can use the audible alerts or the green, yellow and red lights to let them know how much time they have left or in reverse as to how much time they have used up. This isn’t a small device so there will never be an excuse that it wasn’t seen, likewise it is loud enough that you can hear it from the next room. It stands almost nine inches tall and requires 4 AA sized batteries. There is a power cord that you can use instead of batteries but it is sold separately.
If you need a product like this it is important that you explain it to your child and stress that it is not a punishment but rather something to help them manage their time. Explain how you are going to use the three colors and the sounds that the Time Tracker makes so that they know exactly what is expected of them when using this. For younger kids you can use it for timing them when they are brushing their teeth, doing assignments or practicing penmanship, doing chores or for time outs. If you are going to use this for a “time out” make sure that the child does not throw it or toss it in anger. It is well made but the clock section (powered by lithium batteries) can be damaged if it is thrown around.
Another creative way to use this is for board games; instead of using a timer for chess the boys would often use this. The same thing goes for games like Boggle, Scrabble and Risk. If someone was taking too long to make a move they would set it for two minutes and then the person would lose their turn. The Time Tracker is a great investment if you have kids but adults can benefit from it too. You can set it for various intervals if you are multi tasking so you don’t lose track of time. I often use this when I am cooking and doing laundry at the same time; I can set it for 33 minutes for the wash cycle and then whatever time is required for the dryer.
The Time Tracker has a suggested retail price of about twenty dollars but you may be able to find it for a little less if you visit your local homeschool supply store. It is a well made and colorful way to track time and teach kids the value of it. It’s best for kids in the four to eleven year range but as I said, I use it for things around the house as well.