Thursday, December 1, 2011

Learning About Time

One of my grand twins lost her shoe in a pile of leaves.  The shoe hunt, accompanied by much arguing and complaining lasted about two minutes.

“That took at least an hour,” said one of the twins. 

“Do you have a watch?” I asked.

“I don’t want people to ask me what time it is,” she replied.

At this point I almost changed the subject from the value of estimating time to the value of helping others.  But my grand twins are experts at changing the subject, so I didn’t play along. 

Her mother cut in, “She has one. She just doesn’t wear it.”

“If you wear it, and look at it frequently, you’ll get a feel for time,” I said.  “Time does have a feel.”

“Time goes slower when you’re bored,” said my grand daughter.

“It may feel like it,” I said. “But it’s useful to have a feel for how much time is really passing.”

“It felt like more than an hour.”

“Do you think it was really more than an hour?”

“You just don’t get it!” insisted my 10-year-old grand daughter.

Where have I heard that before?  From my children. From my own mouth.  But never about time.

I used that line when I felt I was being treated like a younger child than I really was.  In this situation, I was treating my grand daughter as if she was more mature than she wants to be.  I wanted the responsibilities and freedoms of maturity from an early age.  I don’t know what she wants.

Having a sense of how much time is really required for a job, how much time is really passing when we’re bored and when we’re enjoying is one of the key tricks to getting work accomplished.  This is the gift I’d like to give my grand children – the ability to accomplish their projects.

I surfed the web and found this website:

The authors have several well-thought-out activities for helping children learn to estimate time passing and time anticipated.

Make a list of favorite activities and then place them in the appropriate category: one second, one minute, or one hour.

Compare lengths of time to driving distances: "We will stay at the party for one hour. That’s about as long as it takes us to drive to the zoo."

Make a chart with daily schedules: "At 12:00 we will have lunch.  At 3:00 we’ll leave for baseball practice."

Challenge your child to pick up his room within a certain amount of time. Get him thinking about time by asking him how many minutes he needs to get the blocks on the shelf.  "Could you fold all the shirts and put them in the drawer in ten seconds?"

Make paper chains to count down the days until an upcoming vacation or holiday.  Try to remove the link at the same time each day to illustrate the notion of a 24 hour day.

This is one of the problems with long-distance grandparenting.  Somebody told my daughter about this blog.  It is anonymous for several reasons. One of them was to be able to rant about my family without getting my family angry.  My daughter may read this.  I don’t know if she’ll try these suggestions because they look useful or if she’ll ignore them because I suggested them.

I know my daughter is good at organizing her time.  I’d like to think she learned it from her dad and me.  We both accomplish a great deal with our time.  People frequently ask us how we get so much done, manage to show up at agreed times, and finish our projects ahead of schedule. 

I think having a feel for how much time various activities take is key to effective use of time.  Neither of us can multi-task (unless you count running the washing machine, while writing my blog.)

I hate feeling like the stereotypical senior – worrying that today’s young people aren’t living up to my standards.  I live on the opposite coast from my grand twins.  I have no say in how they are raised.  I may as well worry about life on Mars. It is not a good use of my time to worry about them. But that’s what my blog is for – a place to rant and get it out of my system.

Exercises in telling time for grandparents:

Make a list of favorite activities and schedule them into the week.  Mean it – really make time for them, and really do them.
Compare lengths of time for various activities – shopping on the web, vs going to the mall.  Do I want to get out of the house, or do I want a specific item?

Make a chart of the day’s activities, and how long they will take.  Make sure to include time to exercise and to read, or do something I enjoy.

Challenge myself to get a chore I dislike done quickly.

Include doing something new in my schedule – trying a new recipe, a new exercise, visiting a new local exhibit.  Doing something different is a proven way to help keep track of time.  

And cut time-wasters out of my life – time wasters like worrying. If I can do something, great. If I can’t then worrying accomplishes nothing.

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