herald

Sunday 21 December 2014

Mum's the word

I was really hoping things would change in 2013. I had high hopes for all the serial offenders. Surely some tardy parents out there would have made a new year's resolution to start taking their kids to school on time, for a change.

Every day, at schools around the country, it's the same unpunctual story: the usual suspects are only pulling out of their driveways with their kids when everyone else's parents are back home again or well on their way to the office after another timely drop-off.

The thing that baffles me most is how late some kids are, setting off from home minutes before classes start. More often than not they find their classroom door closed and have to disrupt the class.

Ludicrous

Their late arrival isn't just interrupting their teacher, but a whole room of kids who have just settled down suddenly find their concentration broken by the late straggler. When more than one kid is late in the same room this amounts to several needless disruptions in a morning.

I've a friend who is always running late. She lives close to her daughter's school and, perhaps, this is the reason she can't seem to leave her house on time, as she only has a five-minute trip to the school gates. She admits her time-keeping is a problem, but blames her seven-year-old, who struggles to get out of bed.

As a mum of three I find this ludicrous. Most of the population manages successfully to get their children to school, Montessori, creche or a child-minder on time, with many dashing off to a job afterwards.

After talking to teachers about serial latecomers (almost all classes have at least one) it seems similar patterns can be identified.

In many cases the latecomer is an only child. That means home life is way more relaxed in the morning than the family trying to get three or four kids out the door on time. (Only one pair of shoes can go missing, only one set of sandwiches needs prepping and no one is queuing for the bathroom.)

Sympathetic

Less pressure allows for a slower pace, and, it seems, before long, slackness comes to rule the roost. It should be a cinch to get one child to school on time -- parents with multiple kids seem to manage fine and you'd be far more inclined to feel sympathetic towards a latecomer from a big family.

Another pattern is that many serial latecomers live very close to their schools. If they can't blame the traffic it seems they can't blame anything other than a lack of organisation in the home. And this falls at the feet of the parents.

Kids learn by example and anyone who consistently takes their children to school late is setting a terrible precedent. Punctuality is prized the world over and shows respect to others. Time is precious, so arriving late shows that you're perfectly willing to waste someone else's time, as they wait on you.

If you're reading this knowing you're a poor timekeeper, why not get your act in gear for 2013. Kids want to fit in, not stand out as they slink into class five minutes late again.

Set your clock 15 minutes early and leave your house with a quarter of an hour to spare. The power of punctuality should never be underestimated.

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