In many schools, being late to class is seen as something of a token of coolness. Kids who are late are “edgy,” or they’re seen as being “too cool for school.” They clearly have larger concerns on their time and energy than making it to class just as the bell rings. Some students, in fact, will press the issue all year, arriving late at the beginning of each school day or finding themselves running behind for class each day. Unfortunately, this can be incredibly detrimental to the functioning of each classroom and even to the school as a whole.
What’s the Problem With Being Late?
When students are chronically late to class, they’ll experience a wide range of problems. First and foremost, a late arrival is disruptive to the entire classroom. Instead of being focused on the beginning of class procedures, students turn to look at the late student–especially if they make an issue of being late or try to turn it into an excuse to get everyone looking at them. Other common issues with late arrivals include:
- Spreading lateness as other students realize that it’s becoming increasingly common for their peers to be late to class.
- Students who miss information that’s shared at the beginning of class.
- Students who are unable to complete assignments in a timely manner and struggle to keep up through the rest of the class.
- Disruption to the entire classroom environment, including a lack of respect for the instructor and the subject.
Lateness impacts the entire class–especially when it happens on an ongoing basis. At its most extreme, teachers may have to start class 5-10 minutes in order to account for late arrivals, which means that students will miss out on valuable instructional time on a daily basis.
Late Arrivals: Always an Excuse
Late arrivals to class nearly always have an excuse. From the common, “Oh, I overslept and missed the bus!” to, “I had to go to the bathroom before I came in,” there’s always a reason why it wasn’t their fault. As a result, students expect to be excused and not suffer the consequences–in spite of the fact that they’re disrupting the classroom and their own learning. In order to avoid the excuse cycle and help students take responsibility for their own actions, there are several steps that can be helpful.
- Students can be encouraged to take bathroom breaks between classes or at pre-specified times. Some teachers may make it clear that students are welcome to take restroom breaks during specific periods of quiet work time if necessary.
- Students can make a habit of waking a little earlier in the mornings so that they’re able to make it to class on time more regularly.
- Students can be led through a discussion of what caused them to be late and why allowing them to come up with solutions for getting to class on time in the future. This can be helpful for avoiding everything from oversleeping or traffic snarls to spending too long talking to a friend in the hallway.
- Students can be provided with the specific activities that they’re expected to complete before the bell rings or in the early minutes of class, helping them to understand how they can use their time more effectively.
- Teachers can make the effort to be in class early, interacting with their students, instead of sliding in just as or after the bell rings. This helps demonstrate to students that their learning time is valuable and that they’re expected to be in place on time.
It’s also critical that students understand the instructor’s expectations–that is, that they know they are expected to be in class at a specific time and that when the bell rings, it’s time to be in their seats, ready to learn.
Chronic lateness creates problems for students and faculty alike. By correcting the chronic lateness problem, students and teachers alike can experience smoother-running classrooms where learning time is valued by the entire community. Looking for more information about schools where each child is valued and their time is taken seriously? Contact us today to learn about the benefits of our school.