Timers are a great way to keep kids focused, but you need the right timer for the job.
Used with thought, a timer can
- be used to create energy around an activity,
- increase a child’s sense of control (by improving understanding of how long is left for a task)
- enhance time management skills
- create focus
- visually represent how long a child may enjoy an activity
- increase times tables practice, or get teeth properly brushed!
Beware the downsides – some children just hate timers as they
- can increase stress levels
- decrease sense of control (when feeling pressurised)
- cause disengagement (not prepared to try)
There are a lot of options available, so you really can tailor your timer to both the task and the child.
Where is the activity going to take place?
Countdown or timer?
“How many can you finish in 2 minutes” (incentivising for some, stressful for others)
“Can you finish more in 2 minutes than you did yesterday” (ie try to better your own score)
- instead of using a decreasing countdown, use a timer (starting at zero) to time how long a task takes,
- reduce peer competition by making it all about the child – can they beat their OWN time?
Depending on the age and ability of the child, displays can be numbers, words or a visual representation such as a sand timer, or a picture that is slowly revealed as the time passes.
The options range from silent to music or video
This is another factor that will affect enjoyment and stress levels so it is worth giving some thought. The options range from no noise at all to an exploding bomb…
TOP FIVE FREE TIMERS
e.ggtimer.com is a very simple countdown timer that fills the whole screen. It is easy to use (although a little uninspiring). Just type the allotted time into the box and press start. As an unusual extra it can deal with timed reps. eg 5 minutes followed by another 5 minutes
https://timer.onlineclock.net/bg/aquarium/ is a lovely countdown timer. You can choose an aquarium to view and either have no sound or some white noise in the form of bubbling water. It is very calm.
Don't forget that Youtube offers lots of timers with music or video (but they tend to run for a fixed time eg 3 or 5 minutes) and an iPhone has a timer/stopwatch feature built in under the "Clock" function.