Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Back to School Success Part 1: On-Task, On-Time, and On-Target

Teaching organization and time management to young ones is easy with On-Task On-Time Timer
Simple. Simple. Simple. That's what they need.

Welcome to Back to School with Toys Are Tools! 

WHAT: On-Task On-Time Timer by Timely Matters
INVENTOR: Moschel Kadokura
DOES: allows your child to learn about time management by setting and fulfilling his own tasks and expectations in a timely manner- NO SMALL FEAT!
INVEST:  $49.95 (possible to be used by two kids- if time is on your side!)
Suggested 5-12 (my suggestion: can go younger or older- read the review and view photo/video carefully to decide)
TOOLS:  I Can Take of Myself, Family Fix-its

+1 demo: Basic page
People who read this blog regularly know that I love timers.  But what they may not know is that I'm highly critical of them.  Like wine lovers, they may drink it all but they know a good thing when they taste one or should I say "smell" one?

Like a good bottle of wine, a good timer can touch a variety of senses.  Aromas and tastes in wine are inextricably woven together to make the wine outstanding.  Timers are no different since it's usually the added features that make them perfect for certain jobs we have to do.

My six year old looks shocked that he's flossing. This timer certainly beats saying things like "What if you have no teeth by the time you go to college?" I AM THE WORST mother in the world.

What is the job? Well, the kids must be on task but must also be on time doing stuff that we used to do for them.  Being on time is critical.  If you are ready for school but the school bus has left then you did not win.  A checklist can help a child be on task and you can give a time limit to each task but that really requires more work and who wants to do that? Not me, and my kid has had enough of my "reminders." A good timer brings not just efficiency but also independence.

Simple is Better for All of Us

But how do you get a child to do a set sequence of tasks each within a specific time frame and NOT have a grown-up involved? Simple - you give them a smartphone!  Because that is what WE use to do certain things at certain times.  But until they come up with smartphones with no phone, no internet, no games, no CALCULATOR (hmmm I wonder why she wrote that), and no theft/loss concern then the On-Task On-Time Timer is a kick-butt choice.

Video Games? Yes? No?  I can see this being VERY useful right afterschool when kids have horrible homework anxiety.  Making a pre-homework routine with a timer may help reduce anxiety.  

This is what I love about single-purpose gadgets for young children. Grown-ups need not waste their time battling the distractions and punching in restrictive codes they can't remember. It's hard enough to teach this very important and tough skill of time management. Being simple is bold here.

It's Easy to Set Your Schedule

Here's what you get: You get a huge timer, that functions kind of like your basic kitchen timer but there are no numbers.  Instead, you receive three discs onto which you can post stickers to allot a certain amount of time to doing a certain task. One disc equals, as you can guess, 60 minutes which I think is GREAT because you can't imagine your kid using this all day.  It is also nice to see that the task pictures move into the "red" zone as it signals to your child "Good- that's done" or "Uh, better hurry!" Ideally, your child should come up with the schedule with you otherwise, you'll hear, "You're always bossing me around!"

After doing your first run, you might end up tweaking things around and that is good because the stickers are reusable. All of this is going to register verbally and spatially for the child.  Verbally: It takes me ten minutes to eat breakfast"  Spatially: "this is what ten minutes feels like because I'm eating my usual breakfast." I think this is how we learn to estimate time.

The stickers that you stick onto your disc are reusable but it's not recommended that you keep changing it daily.  (It's not reusable forever and ever).  Switching things around too much will also not be good for establishing routine.  There are also dry-erase stickers for tasks that there aren't any stickers for but I like the stickers themselves.  They are smooth, pearly, and the character passes for tween-early teen (ROLE MODEL!).

Shocked that he finished everything before the bell rang.  I think he will be starting the day feeling pretty smitten with himself, don't you?

This Is What Being "ON" Is Like

Do you know how much time a contestant on Jeopardy has before they have to give an answer.  You may not know how many seconds/minutes they have but you can hum it out, can't you?  While your child may not be able to hum out 60 minutes, they can literally hear the time ticking.  I think that is so great because if they become distracted, the ticking could become an audio cue to get back on task. Even if many of our kids are slow to process audio input, slow doesn't mean never.  The ticking will hopefully register and become a signal that time is passing and they have to meet a deadline.

In my experience, I have been told that sometimes timers bug kids.  It makes them really anxious.  If you suspect it, then please check out my video which is really more about the sound of the timer.  Listen and think of what the reception might be.  Hopefully either the creators of On-Task On-Time Timer or I will make a video for you of a fifteen minute run of the timer so that your child can try it out that way.  Obviously that way is not the same (real is better) but it's a decent alternative to test for ticking timer anxiety.

Did you know that the On-Task On-Time Timer was invented after Moschel Kadokura had a major mommy meltdown getting her triplet kindergarteners out the door and off to school.  She was such a mess, she was even asked by the teacher to leave.  After wallowing in a pit of shame, she went shopping for supplies and rigged up a timer contraption that would develop into today's On-Task On-Time Timer.  What do I do after a mommy meltdown? One word: Cabernet

This is a Self-Teaching Tool

For our family, I really like using the On-Task On-Time Timer these days because of the ticking! Yes, the timer has lots of visuals but the tasks that the kids have to do require that they avert their eyes away from the timer (comb hair= look in the mirror, do homework = look at your work,)  Thus the audio is helpful because at some point, the child will hopefully either glance at the timer (because it is big) or hear the ticking and then glance at it to stay on target.  I think this is how we manage our own selves, we occasionally check on ourselves to see where we are.  When you don't, you say, "Ohmigosh, where did the time go?" So I think it is possible to say that your On-Task On-Time Timer is so successful with us because it mimics the way humans naturally monitor themselves. It's a catalyst, a trainer, a pointer in the right direction like a good balance bike.

The other component is that obviously, the more your child has invested in creating his own schedule, it will become less about you and more about the real enemy.  Who is that?  Well of course, it is time.  This is a beast that every child must tango with eventually and as adults well you know.. it's like money, we never have enough of it.  You know it's a beast and you can throw him into the ring for 60 minutes (or less) at a time but in a safe and nurturing environment.  It's a very kind parent thing to do.

You could choose to use this reward chart in the back.  Also holds your other discs.

scaf·fold   noun \ˈska-fəld also -ˌfōld\
1a : a temporary or movable platform for workers to stand or sit on when working at a height above the floor or ground
2: a supporting framework ← what parents make for kids....

Scaffolding that Works

The biggest lesson I learned with this timer is how my kids are not doing certain things because I have not really prepared them for success.   Our floss was in a small plastic bag in a drawer that they never open.  Our comb could not be reached unless they stepped on top of the toilet.  I haven't really ever had them lay out their clothing for the next day when I know that doing that would mean they are one step closer to getting dressed in the morning without a struggle.  If I had them pack their lunch (because there IS a sticker for that too! Woo hoo!), then it would help ensure that they would actually eat it at school because they prepared it.
That is so much more work, you say?  Well, yes and no.  But if you're in the mindset that prison keeps convicts as convicts but education transforms them then you know that more proactive prevention now means less "reforming" later which then means LESS WORK FOR ME!  Yeah!  I think if we can remember how much it helps us to set up that supportive framework for them, we may become less reluctant to change our morning and evening parenting habits. Sometimes I tell my husband, "You better teach him this skill unless you want him to live with us forever!" (I really do but try to do it with a smile)

Maybe because his little brother a.k.a. "Bedtime Rejector" is so successful, now my fourth grader wants one.  Of course he does! I think he's in love with the ticking! Still, I think it is possible to share the timer depending on age and scheduling.

I'm telling you something we all sort of know already. Of course, you do realize that this means that they are one step closer to becoming a grown-up, leaving the nest and having their own family.  If they come running to complain about their "horrible children," you can go to your attic and bring down their old On-Task On-Time Timer.  Quite honestly, I can't imagine how we couldn't pass this down to our younger nieces or nephews, or even our grandchildren (fyi: my current toy shopping excuse). One thing you can count on: time management will be a lesson that will challenge all of us until... I guess, the end of time.

back·to·school   phrase \ˈbak-too-skool also - see school anxiety\
1a : a 3-4 week period when parents and children are preparing for a new school year, being overwhelmed by countless sales, and are worrying about state tests (already), new teachers, and new friends.

These stickers have a silk finish.  That's so special.

And now try out to win your own On-Task On-Time Timer  THIS IS A FLASH GIVEAWAY (ends in 7 days) but don't worry if you don't win, you can opt to use a 20% off coupon CODE: toysaretools   when shopping in their online store! 
 Just fill out the Rafflecopter form to enter to win!

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Disclosure:  Toys are Tools was not compensated by the manufacturer for the publication of this review.  The reviewed item was provided to Toys are Tools to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.  The giveaway prize is being offered by the manufacturer.



  1. My son's toughest time is when we have to get ready to leave the house. He likes to lollygag & then we end up running late.

  2. I like that there are 3 discs for different routines.

  3. bedtime is our difficult time - can't stay on task, forget to do different steps of the routine. It is very hard to stay patient and kind because I just want them IN BED!!

  4. I have found myself yelling at them to go to sleep. Like I know that is only going to make it worse but it drives me nuts!

  5. in my house, i am the dawdler and then I realize I am late and then start hurrying my kids, bossing them around, I really need help, don't I?

  6. My child's toughest time of the day is the morning. She's very resistant to toileting and dressing in the a.m. We did have success with using a chore chart with a weekly trip to the ice cream parlor as an incentive to complete the a.m. and p.m. tasks.