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Take Your Time

Talking and listening

by Claire Law

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To consider how we can use our time to talk about our feelings and listen to others.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (Take Your Time) and the means to display them.
  • Have available the YouTube video ‘Alice in Wonderland’ and the means to show it during the assembly. It is 1.21 minutes long and is available at:
  • Optional: you may wish to arrange for some students to read the Bible passage from Ecclesiastes 3.1-8 during the ‘Time for reflection’ part of the assembly.


  1. Have Slide 1 showing as the students arrive.

    Ask the students, ‘Is there anyone here who can tell me the time? Anyone who has the time on them? Can anyone take the time to let me know what time it is?’

    Invite a student who can see the clock or their watch to tell you the time.

  2. Time is how we apportion our daily life. We use the concept of time to break up our lives into recognized chunks. Much of our concept of time is connected to the rotation of the earth. For example, we call the time when the sun is visible ‘day’ and the time when we can’t see the sun ‘night’. We have divided this period into hours, and again into minutes.

  3. Show Slide 2.

    Some cultures place a lot of emphasis on the importance of agreeing the correct time, and on being on time. These are known as monochronic cultures and are largely found in Europe, North America and Australia. Schedules and organization matter in monochronic cultures.

    By contrast, polychronic cultures are more flexible about being on time, and more tolerant of lateness. These cultures are found in Africa, South America and Asia. In polychronic cultures, plans can change at the last minute and it is considered acceptable or even polite to arrive after the agreed time. Arriving on time can be considered an insult to a host.

  4. Let’s watch a clip from a famous animation. While you’re watching, see if you can identify whether the main character is influenced more by a monochronic or polychronic culture.

    Show the YouTube video ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (1.21 minutes long).

  5. Would anyone like to share their answer as to whether the rabbit is influenced by a monochronic or polychronic culture?

    Listen to responses from a couple of students.

    Yes, the rabbit is a good example of a character who is from a monochronic culture. In fact, he is an extreme example! He is very conscious of time, to the point where it is causing him a great deal of anxiety. He seems to have no time to stop and enjoy life. His fear of being late means that he finds it hard to relax and get much done, other than rushing around. Some of us might know people like this in real life!

  6. Time, regardless of our cultural approach to it, is a gift that is available to us to use. We can fritter our time away or we can use it in productive ways, including spending time connecting with friends or doing something that benefits others. Spending our time wisely may also include using it in ways that help us to feel good about ourselves.

  7. The Bible has something to say about making time for different experiences. It provides a helpful reminder that there are different times in life and we can spend our time in various ways, sometimes by choice, but sometimes without choice.

Time for reflection

Let’s listen to this passage, which comes from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament.

Show Slide 3.

Read the passage, or invite the prearranged students to do so.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

I wonder if there is a line in that passage that particularly stands out for us.

Let’s take a moment to look at these words and choose the line that we feel most drawn to.

Pause to allow time for thought.

If possible, give a personal example. For example: ‘The lines that I really like in this passage are “a time to be born and a time to die” because it reminds me of the last two years. In that time, new members of my family have been born: my little nephew was born in 2020. However, many people have also died during that time, many as a result of Covid. That’s really sad, but thinking about it reminds me that life is precious and that I should make use of the time that I have to connect with the people, places and things that matter to me.’

Invite the students to read the lines again quietly and see what stands out to them.

Every year, in February, there is a campaign to remind us of the importance of using our time to talk to each other and listen to others. The focus is particularly on taking the time to talk about how we feel and the challenges that we face, and also to listen to others who want to do the same. The campaign is called Time to Talk.

Show Slide 4.

Taking time to talk about how we feel, especially if we feel upset or stressed, can help us. However, talking about how we feel requires a willing listener. Therefore, we should also remember that sometimes, it’s time to listen and give someone else space to speak. Taking time to ask others about how they are feeling can be a helpful way to show that we value spending time with our family and friends and that we care about them.

Dear God,
You have given us the gift of life, and the gift of time to live out our lives.
Please help us to remember that time is precious.
Please help us to recognize the many ways in which we can use our time.
Please help us to be sensitive to the times when we can speak, and the times when we can listen.
May our time today bring us closer to others and to you.

Publication date: February 2022   (Vol.24 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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