Career & Education

'Better three hours too soon than a minute too late'

Punctuality is a virtue

Sunday, August 05, 2018

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Punctuality has been a pet peeve of mine ever since I can remember.

It has, somehow, become ingrained in our Jamaican society that lateness is a norm, but lateness without valid reasons should never be seen as the standard and should not be condoned.

I recently attended a school event that started 30 minutes late. I found this disturbing as it is my opinion that it is a primary function of schools to instil the value of punctuality in its students and, by extension, school events — classes, devotions, club meetings, sporting activities, etc — must begin on time. The school must lead by example, and there have to be consequences for students who are late without valid reasons.

School is not just about learning concepts; it is about educating the whole person and as such, it is also the place that instils character and values in our youngsters. The development of good character will be beneficial for the smooth running of schools, for future employability, for higher education, and for good citizenship. Employers seek reliable, dependable and responsible persons to fill their positions, and part of this is that employees must show up on time.

Timeliness as a value should be instilled in our youngsters at an early age because not only is it vital to one's success throughout life, it is particularly invaluable to academic success. The concept should be reinforced both at school and at home.

Benefits of punctuality

An article titled, A Study on Time Management and Punctuality Issues among Students at Secondary School, Kedah, by A M Sultana was published in the American Journal of Economics in 2013. It found that punctuality plays an important role in ensuring success in academics. The major findings were:

• Children who attend school regularly, and on time, get better grades and have a greater sense of well-being and confidence.

• Toddlers whose parents manage time well experience a sense of ease and predictability in early life, which helps in shaping their view of the world. They perceive the world as a stable and safe place.

• Teenagers with a keen sense of punctuality tend to be more goal-oriented and successful in multiple areas of their lives. Their risk of developing mental disorders is also low, as they keep themselves busy, have long-term goals, and are more likely to exercise regularly.

Other character-building benefits of instilling the value of punctuality are that:

1. It teaches kids to keep their word

This may seem inconsequential, but being on time for school, classes and appointments teaches children to keep their word. It teaches them that it is important to be where you are going to be when you say you are going to be there. They learn to honour others' time.

2. It teaches respect for others

Tardiness is tantamount to disrespect. Being on time demonstrates respect for the other person's time, be it the teacher, the doctor, the dentist, etc.

3. It teaches time management

Sticking to a schedule helps children learn how to plan their day to make time for all that needs to be done. Most tardiness is as a result of poor decisions such as staying up late and thus waking up late, which throws off one's schedule.

How Educators Can

William Shakespeare, in The Merry Wives of Windsor, said “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late”. Punctuality is not a joking matter; it is a serious and necessary trait. It is important that teachers recognise the tremendous influence that they have on their students. This is why educators must always, with no exception, lead by example.

Be the role model

This means that you should always be on time and prepared for your class. When there are valid reasons to be late, explain and apologise immediately.

Begin on time

Start teaching at the time that you are supposed to. Do not wait on late comers.

Hold late-comers accountable

Before entering your classroom, latecomers must offer a valid excuse or face consequences.

Offer rewards

Acknowledge the efforts of those students who are consistently on time with compliments, which will boost your student's morale and self-esteem.

DR Karla Hylton is the author o f Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools. She operates Bio & Chem Tutoring, which specialises in secondary level biology and chemistry. Reach her at (876) 564-1347, or

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