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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why Being on Time Matters

  Punctuality is a challenge for many people.  Recently, we have been experiencing an inordinate amount of students who are late to school in the mornings.  When students arrive late to school, they must be checked in, go to their lockers, and then go to class.  This leads to falling behind in work, missing out on  presentation of new content and any feedback that might come as a result of having time to access prior knowledge at the beginning of class.  If students are tardy over time, it can mean a huge deficit in learning.  Ten minutes late to first period mounts up over time.  If you have 10 tardies,  you may have missed 100 or more minutes of class.  That's a conservative estimate.
   This is an entry that will focus on solving the problem.  In praise of self-directed behavior, I offer advice from Peter Bregman from The Harvard Business Review.  Bregman talks of the necessity of transition time and how 5-10 minutes of planning ahead can shave 30 minutes off a task.  So what does that 10 minutes look like?
   Here are some suggestions that might help your middle schooler's morning go better.  Take 10 minutes to plan the night before.  Do it together with your student several nights in a row and then turn him/her loose and monitor.  That might involve organizing what your Eagle is wearing, eating, taking with him/her in the backpack.  Putting out the clothes he/she will be wearing, packing a lunch/snack, locating ID and loading the backpack with materials and work are all tasks kids can manage. Having everything ready to go and in one place can shave off time and reduce stress.
   Help kids to help you, too.  This might involve reminding mom/dad to locate those car keys or to gas up the vehicle.   Just doing one of these tasks can greatly reduce stress and save time in the morning.  And the more we can empower kids to do organize their morning before school, the more self-directed they become at school.
   "The goal of adolescence is independence, " according to developmental psychologist Erik Erikson.
Empower your kids to help you to get them to school on time.  The benefits to students are to develop the essential school (and later workplace) habit of punctuality and reap the many rewards being on time offers. Plus, it helps to eliminate frenzy from the morning routine.

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