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Use Timer

Use Timer

Why should I do it:

  • Some students have difficulty regulating themselves and keeping track of time in their head
  • Some students need more defined and predictable structure
  • The timer can provide motivation as the student can try to “beat” the clock
  • Some students respond better to an object setting boundaries than an adult telling them what to do

When should I do it:

  • When student has difficulty staying on task
  • When a student takes too long to finish a task
  • When a student has low motivation
  • When a student frequently fails to complete work on time even though they are capable
  • When a student is reluctant to follow verbal directives, warnings, signals, and indicators
  • When a student responds poorly to verbally being told to do something

How do I do it:

  • Get a small timer and place on student’s desk
  • For each assignment, give student several minutes to complete it
  • If timer is too distracting for student, keep it on your desk but show student how much time they have
  • You can also break up the assignment and use the timer for each portion
  • Challenge the student to beat the timer
  • With oppositional and defiant students, shift the students focus away from you telling them what to do by “blaming” the timer, for example, “the timer says you a few minutes left”

Resources & Support for technique:
(Items with footnotes link to external websites)


  1. Hartjes, E. (2011). Helping to motivate and focus students using a timer. [].
  2. Hacker, B. (2008). Use a Timer as a Parenting Tool. [].
  3. Online Stopwatch. Online Timer. [].