Developing Tempo Control

Time management skills are essential to the successful completion of short and long-term projects in school. Understanding how time works and being able to use that knowledge when working is referred to as tempo control. Tempo control serves three roles for students:

  1. Tempo control helps students think about, select, and work at an appropriate pace to complete a task.
  2. Tempo control allows students to synchronize academic skills and neurodevelopmental functions so that they work in coordination with each other. For example, writing requires a student to hold ideas in his/her mind while writing sentences with correct grammar and spelling.
  3. Tempo control helps students to have an appreciation of time, and how strategies and actions occur in a step-wise manner, rather than all at once.

Here are some strategies for enhancing a student’s tempo control.

Helpful Hints

  • Have students think about how much time they will need in order to do a task well, and how to budget their time accordingly. For example, have students first estimate the amount of time needed to successfully complete a task, then compare their estimate with the actual time available, and finally, select appropriate strategies to complete the task (or “buy” more time).  
  • Allow students to be the time manager for the class in charge of monitoring both the progress of work and the time remaining for each task.  
  • Promote the even use of effort and pacing. For example, to reduce the likelihood of students rushing through a task, require students to: plan for so many minutes, work for so many minutes, and review for so many minutes.  
  • Stage tasks (break them into smaller steps) to enable students to complete discrete steps, assigning each step (or group of steps) to a particular time period. Teach students how to stage tasks themselves, for example providing them with a blank time line, flow chart, or task web that they will fill in with steps in the task.  
  • Prioritize tasks or steps within a task so that students devote time to the most important aspects.  
  • Promote self-monitoring by students by having them check their progress and their pacing at certain times during a task.
  • Time management skills may be improved by having students create their own schedules for the week, day, etc. Have students create schedules that include both schoolwork and other activities.