lateclock.jpgI had a crazy, terrifying teacher in first grade. She carried a ruler around and banged it on your desk when she screamed at you. She sat kids in the corner for just looking at her the wrong way and never let us use the bathroom, which ended in lots of puddles on the floor. But despite her sadistic teaching methods and rules, she taught us one thing of importance–being on time.
She would tell us daily that being on time showed respect, good work ethic and manners. She said, “a person that shows up late is saying ‘I matter more than you’.” This is the one lesson that I agree with, and being on time is the one thing that I see less and less of these days.
I am a Pre-K teacher and every single day kids are brought in late to school. My daughter is in kindergarten and at Back to School night, her principal said that lateness was a big problem. Not only are the kids missing out on the morning routine, but they are being taught that they can show up whenever they want.
I asked a couple of local preschool directors if lateness was a problem at their schools and not surprisingly–it is….

Director #1:

We have the families that are perpetually late. Most try hard to get here on time and are usually very apologetic about being late, but it seems to me that there are just some folks who are never on time. This is the reason we need penalties for late pick up of children. I tell the ones who are always late that next year in public school they won’t be able to do this– it’s a real wake up call for some.

Director #2:

We have families who routinely come to school late. Over the past few years we have started our school year with a Family Orientation meeting that is required of all incoming families. During that meeting our Family Services Director discusses this issue at length along with other pertinent school/home information.
We discuss the feelings that children experience when they walk into a classroom that is already working; the late arriving children miss valuable time to interact with peers and teachers and get prepared for the day’s work. We liken it to adult’s work and the feeling one has when arriving late for an important meeting or presentation.
This proactive approach has helped to decrease the number of late arrivals; however it continues to be a challenge for us.

I’m not perfect. I was late picking up my oldest daughter from school yesterday because I’m potty training my little one and I had to wait for her to use the bathroom before she had an accident in the car. Poop happens–we all mess up sometimes. But teaching our children that they need to be somewhere on time is an important life lesson.

Editor, writer, social media manager. Food, cocktail and coffee lover. Proud Jersey girl.

7 replies on “The Lost Etiquette of Being on Time”

  1. I agree completely. I hate being late, and I try my best to be on time or even a little early to my appointments. Of course things happen, but if it’s perpetual it does show a lack of consideration and a “my time is more valuable than your time” attitude.
    In college, a few professors would have their doors locked from the inside after the start of class. If you didn’t make it on time, for whatever reason, you were absent.

  2. I’m always late. Well, I used to be. I try really hard to be on time now. I am terrible at time management – always trying to cram more in – but I’m getting better. I am awed, however, by the kids strolling to school after the morning bell has already rung. At least I always rushed.

  3. Preschool and late? Oh brother. There’s plenty of time later in life to adhere to a schedule, preschool should be “pre” schedule and “pre” uptight, if you ask me.

  4. I admit i have brought my pre-k child late a few too many times. I hate being late anywhere myself and hate when people are late, i think it’s very inconsiderate. I recently had my daughter’s b-day party at a local gym place, from 12-1:30. I knew someone would be late but no one was really more than 5-10 min. late, so i thought. One guest showed up @ 1:25…not only late but brought 3 other people…i haven’t talked to her since.

  5. good article, georgette.
    there are things you try to teach your children from the beginning – the importance of hand washing, teeth brushing, sharing, good manners (please and thank you), how to be courteous to those around you, etc. i believe that being on time should be part of this list.
    i am the mother of 2 small children, one of which started school this past sept. i was rather surprised at the number of parents who regularly drop their children off late. when the child arrives a few minutes early it allows for the transition between the crazy morning hustle and the start of the school day. it also shows consideration and respect for the teachers who are attempting to engage several easily distracted pre-schoolers.
    i’m sure most of us get to our appts on time, whether at the doctor’s or just at the hairdresser or manicure place. so why not to school? i can attest that it is difficult to get out of the house in a timely fashion with small children, but an effort should be made. i, too, am far from perfect, but i’d like my child to learn the importance of arriving at school on time and believe it should start early on.

  6. we made every possible attempt to NOT teach our four-year-old children to be on time.

  7. (We’ve stressed using proper english and grammar– starting with the basics: “I” is capitalized, as is the first letter at the start of a sentence. Crazy, I know. We’re old fashioned here…)

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