Punctuality is an important habit to develop, not just for the school years, but for success and the maintenance of good relationships all through life. If it becomes ingrained in a child during his formative years, there is every likelihood that he will carry it through into his adult life.
Here are some effective strategies a parent can use to help his or her child learn and practice a habit of always being on time:
* Place a large calendar in a prominent place, perhaps on the kitchen fridge, and write on it reminders of upcoming events and activities: money for Pizza Day, class trip, bring gym clothes, etc.
* Try to establish a definite household routine on school days. It is difficult for anyone to be punctual in a chaotic or unregulated environment.
* After homework is completed each evening, pack everything needed for the following day in his schoolbag and place it near the door through which the child will exit the next morning.
* Listen to the weather forecast together. Discuss and agree on appropriate clothing for the following day. Lay it out so he can put it on quickly the next morning.
* If family members take a lunch, have the meals in the fridge, ready to go, before you retire the previous evening. With good planning, everyone can enjoy breakfast together while discussing the upcoming day’s schedule and other items of interest.
* Set the alarm clock half an hour early, or more if necessary. This will allow time for unexpected emergencies, a nourishing family breakfast or review of after-school agendas, as well as other last minute concerns which have a way of popping up.
* Be sure the child gets enough sleep. Advance bedtime by half an hour or an hour. Read to him or allow him to read by himself until you turn off the light. If he’s tired, he’ll doze off early.
* Teach the child to tell time accurately as early as possible. That way, you will be able to gauge how well he is progressing in becoming independently punctual. Then, hopefully, you will be able to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.
* Be a good role model. Show that you attach great value to being on time or a even little early for work, doctors’ appointments or meeting someone for lunch. Voice your annoyance when someone is needlessly late and keeps you waiting for a prearranged engagement.
* Praise and reward your child as he improves in being punctual. “Johnny, you were on time for school every day this month! You have earned a trip to the movies this Saturday.”
A punctual adult will reap great benefits in many of life’s situations: at work, on social occasions and in personal relationships. Punctuality denotes respect, trustworthiness, reliability and maturity. There is no better time to teach this valuable habit to a child than during his school years.