Being Late for Class

Up until about the age of 10 children do not understand time concepts; consequently, they have difficulty planning, using their time wisely, and being on time. Older children who are continually late for class, however, may be trying to get even with adults, challenge adult authority, avoid an unpleasant situation; or they may come from a family which doesn’t value time.


  1. Teach children concepts of time such as minutes and hours, days in the week, months and seasons in the year, and the meaning of words like yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
  2. Teach children organizational skills like planning out a day, estimating how much time particular activities take, figuring out what time they need to wake up so they’ll be at school on time, how much extra time they should leave in case something unexpected stalls them. This gives children a better idea of how much time they need to perform various activities.
  3. Discuss with children how being on time is a sign of respect and consideration for other people’s feelings and time. Being late not only reflects badly on them, but it also inconveniences other people.
  4. Every so often have a special class surprise first thing in the morning.


  1. Tape a drawing on the child’s desk of how his watch-face will look when he’s on time for class. If he is sitting in his desk at the exact time the drawing shows, he earns a reward.
  2. Count the number of minutes a child is late and have him give you back those minutes after school.
  3. Make the late student your right-hand man (or woman), assigning him duties which have to be done before class starts–setting up a science experiment or film projector, for instance.
  4. Ask your class to recommend a reasonable penalty for being late. Usually their ideas are harsher than the ones you come up with, which may motivate the child to aim for promptness.


  1. Bailing out children who are late by filling them in on what they’ve missed or giving them hand-outs. Carry on with your lesson and let them do nothing for an hour. It will be their responsibility to catch up in their spare time.