How is your relationship with time?
Updated: Sep 14
I may have seen year 7s transition to secondary many times as a teacher but this was my first September experiencing it as a parent. My son was diagnosed with ADHD at the end of year 6 and time management has moved front and centre as we try to jump start our early starting days, supporting him in navigating huge changes, new routines and expectations.
I feel my anxiety rise as I discover that he has just spent 10 minutes banging two marbles together staring into space rather than getting dressed. I realise that I am expecting him to immediately develop a relationship with time. Until now, however, time for him has been a concept adults talked about and he had to follow, or, in his case, didn’t follow because it felt too restrictive and his thoughts were more interesting.
Time blindness is a big feature of ADHD. We tend to experience time as ‘now’ or ‘not now’. This can make us very present and joyful or dreamy and distant. This also means acting with urgency only really works if its ‘our’ urgency. This is the paradox of speedy Ferrari brains which usually find anything slow-paced excruciating but will resist other people’s urgency and slow things right down if we are not engaged in the ‘now’.
It took me at least 10 years from starting secondary school to develop a relationship with time and I still struggle now. I turned up late to my lackadaisical school in the early 90s and my heavily made-up tutor would shout ‘Kate, you’re late’ in her Scottish accent after my every entrance. I would snarl at her and roll my heavily made-up eyes. Nothing else ever happened. Without a consequence or a relationship that mattered to me, the same pattern would repeat every day. My parents eventually complained to the school because they never had any communication. Then it turned out that a lot of the communication was in letters in my school bag which rarely got given to them.
It was probably only when I did my teacher training that I really started to get a sense of time; what 10 minutes felt like or how long it took 30 kids to stop and pack up. The consequences of being late with an entourage of 30 was chaos in the halls and weary colleagues who I cared about and respected looking annoyed. That soon got me on track.
With a road map on ADHD which I have shared with his ‘very strict school’, I hope that my son’s teachers will understand him and that he will learn to understand himself. I want him to be supported to manage challenges with time and organisation by having consistent consequences and meaningful relationships with teachers. Judgement, assumptions and frustration don’t have to get in the way.