The purpose of a Timetable:

Creating and displaying a timetable for individual students or multiple students is a great visual organisational tool for children and you. A timetable provides purpose, direction and goals and can be a valuable time-saving and motivational tool. It helps students forward plan (especially older students who are studying QCAA subjects and need to submit draft and assignments by due dates) and encourages students to have a sense of accountability and autonomy.

For multiple children, older children can work autonomously from one subject to another while you are busy with younger children and vice versa you can set tasks that younger children can do autonomously while working with your older students.

How to create a timetable:

  • Timetables are only a guide. They are a flexible tool that can be adapted to the individual student’s need and the needs of the family.
  • Some families choose to do the bulk of their work first thing in the morning. Some families choose to start later in the morning after household chores while other families prefer splitting schoolwork into chunks throughout the day. When you start and finish or which subject to do and for how long really depends on a range of variables such as student’s needs, family needs or situation and tasks that need to be completed on that day.
  • Rule of thumb is that the most difficult subjects are done early in the day and can be interspersed with breaks, games or more enjoyable subjects. It is also recommended that children, especially primary-aged students, do a very short 2-3 minute activity based on the subject about to be worked on to bring their current knowledge and understanding of the topic into their working memory before beginning textbook work. At the end of textbook work you can do another 2-3 minute activity to consolidate their learning for long term memory transfer.

When creating weekly timetables remember: 

  • Every day is a unique gift to be thankful for
  • Build timetable slots to suit the learning preferences of the individual
  • Short term feedback recognition and long term goals / rewards built into it
  • Review how the timetable is working on a term basis and make adjustments.
  • Always have the timetable and goal chart visible. Build in a completion system
  • Recognition of parent supervisor role
  • Knowing that the DE teacher is supportive and available
  • Do not forget that time needs to be allocated for excursions, daily chores, exercise and quiet time to have a balanced, sustainable timetable for children.

Breaking up study routines: 

Students are encouraged to take regular ‘brain breaks’ through the day (some recommendations suggest 5-15 minutes every hour). These breaks don’t need to be long (only 2-3 minutes), but can help the student to refocus. Some examples of breaks include:

  • Taking a toilet break
  • Going for a short walk
  • Jumping on the trampoline
  • Having a snack
  • Squeezing a stress ball
  • Having a drink
  • Do some stretches

Things to avoid:

  • Breaking up the school work day with leisurely screen time on the t.v. or computer.
  • High frequency of interruptions that cause the student to lose focus with school work.
  • Breaks that are used as excuses and avoidance.
  • Activities that might trigger behavioural issues.

Nicole Quak
Distance Education Manager