Should You Teach Your Kid to Make a Schedule?

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Written By Pinang Driod

For the holidays, Radio Atlantic is sharing the first episode of the Atlantic podcast How to Keep Time. Co-hosts Becca Rashid and Ian Bogost, an Atlantic contributing writer, examine our relationship with time and what we can do to reclaim it.

In its first episode, they explore the idea of “wasting” time. But first, Radio Atlantic host Hanna Rosin has a question: Is teaching scheduling to a child a bad idea?

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The following is a transcript of the episode:

Hanna Rosin: Becca.

Becca Rashid: Yes, Hanna.

Rosin: I have a story I want to tell you, and I don’t know if it’s excellent or terrible.

Rashid: I’m sure it will be excellent, Hanna. Let’s hear it.

Rosin: Okay. So, this weekend, I was hanging out with a 5-year-old. Actually, four and three-quarters, because you know how little kids are extremely precise about their age.

And we were planning out all the things that we were going to do that day. And what I did was, I sat down with this kid, and I made a schedule.

Rashid: For the child who’s 4 and three-quarters?

Rosin: It was, like, a pictorial schedule. And I thought I was doing something incredibly fun. I was like, No. 1: We’re going to go to the castle playground. No. 2: We’re going to have a food adventure. No. 3: We’re going to have a throwing adventure. And I taught the kid how to write everything down and say how long it was going to take. And then I taught the kid how to cross things out.

Rashid: Oh my God. You were training this child on how to make a to-do list.

Rosin: Yes. Okay. And only at the end of it did I think: Oh my God, I have to ask Becca if I just did a terrible thing.

Rashid: Did the kid enjoy it? Did he appreciate your efforts in mapping out his day for him like that?

Rosin: Well, I think the kid was a natural bundle of chaos. I was trying to sort of organize and rein it in and be like, Look, we’re going to do this for 20 minutes, and this for 20 minutes, and this for 20 minutes.

Rashid: To manage the otherwise chaotic life of a 5-year-old child?

Rosin: Exactly. Instead of letting them kind of stumble from one thing to the next thing, I was trying to organize time. Was that a mistake?

Rashid: I mean, I can understand why that was a natural compulsion for you. You’ve been trained to think that way. I don’t know if a child who is 4 and three-quarters needs to condition himself to think that way.

And I wonder if it maybe stifles his ability to actually figure out, like: How am I feeling? What do I want to do next? Maybe not to conceptualize his day as a “day” quite yet, you know?

Rosin: That’s what I thought your answer was gonna be.

Rashid: (Laughs.)

Rosin: This is Radio Atlantic. I’m Hanna Rosin, and that was Becca Rashid, one of the co-hosts of The Atlantic’s How To podcast. Their new season is called How to Keep Time, and there’s a concept in that season called “action addiction.” And all I can say is: I feel seen. Anyway, we at Radio Atlantic are off for the holidays—happy holidays, everyone—we’re going to play Episode 1 of How to Keep Time. Enjoy.

You can listen to the episode and read the transcript here:

How to Keep Time: Try Wasting It

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