Late for School

I'm just finishing a lovely two week Spring Break so I was able to drive my daughter to high school without that feeling of being rushed in the morning. What a lovely feeling!

As I drove home after dropping her off, I noticed that there were MANY students walking to school - clearly late.  The looks on their faces were that of "no worries".  I thought - wow, if that was me - I'd be concerned because I was late.  I don't recall being late very often in high school and I know I was never late in elementary as my parents always believed in being on time.

When I mentioned the non look of concern on the face students to my daughter later that day, she said, "They don't care."  My thought was, "Why don't they care and why has this changed so much?"

Then I thought about my own classroom of 2nd and 3rd graders throughout the years.  In the last 5 years, more and more children are late for school. Sometimes I ask them why they are late (but I don't often ask them because it is not usually in their control.)  But what I found interesting was that kids will say that it was their little baby sister or bother that caused them to be late because they were crying or that they woke up late and Mom will bring me lunch later. Once or twice when I did not ask the student, they volunteered "I'm late because my Mom was on Facebook."    It is not for me to judge and I can't even imagine having more than two children in the house.  However, I do recall when my children were little and how CRAZY busy our family was in the morning.   I had to get up earlier to help deal with everything that had to be done in the morning. I found that making lunches the night before really helped me to schedule my time in the morning. Getting two children ready for daycare, dropping them off and trying to make it to school on time myself was truly a test in organization and sanity. (Don't even get me started on pickup, settle back into home, make dinner....ahhhh! For those of you in this stage right now, I really feel for you!)

I started wondering though, what being late for school in elementary school might have to do with the high school feeling of complacency. What about when these teens get jobs? Will they be late for their jobs too?  Will they work hard at their jobs and show true grit or will they go to work with a "no worries" attitude that their bosses will not like?

I think as parents and teachers, we need to teach our children the importance of being on time and of time management.  I have noticed that less and less students have any awareness of time at all.  In previous years, about 5 students out of every class would be already time-aware and some would even be able to tell time. Now if I have 1 student able to tell time, I'm lucky.  When I mentioned to a parent once that we would be learning about time, the response was "Darn it!  I purposely haven't taught __________ about time because if I want to put the kids to bed earlier they won't argue because they don't know what time it is!"  When my kids were little, I taught them the time and made sure they were aware that "in 30 minutes it's bed time".  They were also aware when they were allowed to stay up later because it was the weekend or a "treat."  I guess times have changed.  I am the first to say we all need little "tricks" to stay sane but I am wondering if we are teaching (or not teaching) our kids the wrong things?

What many parents may not be aware of is when students are late for school, they often miss the most important time of day.  In the first 15-30 minutes of the day, many things may happen:

1.  Students connect with their friends. (social)

2.  Students connect with the shape of the day and prepare themselves for what things will happen   that day. (emotional)

3.   Students making learning connections.  They will see what subjects/concepts they will learn about that day. Teachers also be starting their lessons.  The first part of the lesson is usually an introduction and new concept development (intellectual).  When students are late they miss this crucial part of learning.

Being on time for class is a big part of a student's life.  It helps them feel centered, alert and responsive to new learning.  But, the best part is that it helps students begin the day happier than when they arrive late and find themselves behind to start their day off.

**Graphics and font credits:  Whimsy Workshop Teaching/ Dollar Club Photo /KG Fonts


  1. Ahh... Shelley the first thing I thought when I saw that image was "Thanks for the clip art credit!" and the next thought was "Gee, my students don't look like that at ALL when they are late! They don't really care at all!" So your comments are just right! Great post!

    1. Hi Susanna,

      I have some that don't care but others seem quite distressed and embarrassed. Poor things. Thanks for visiting!


  2. Amen Shelley. I was just nodding my head the whole time I was reading this. I actually had to address a child's lateness with the parent this year and I purposely saved all the child's late slips just to show how often it had happened. 15 times in Term 2!! And the little guy was often crying in his locker when he arrived cause he was embarrassed that he was late. You are right, that initial morning time is so important for kids. They connect to the rest of their day then. I worry also about what all this lateness means for a future generation. I loved reading this :) Thanks

  3. Thank you Leslie,
    That is so sad for that boy. :( Thank you for sharing as well.


Back to Top