Being late to school disrupts more than your child's day.

Reasons Why Being Tardy to School Is Bad

by Leyla Norman

Tardiness affects not only your child’s attendance record and ability to learn, but it also impacts the school environment and you. Being late to school can lead to legal problems for you and your child, and it also interrupts other students’ learning. Tardies also add up to absences in many schools. For example, at Brier Elementary School in Brier, Wash., three tardies equal one absence. Preparing the night before and allowing a little extra time in the morning can prevent most tardiness.

1. Legal Reasons

States have laws that require attendance at school, and parents who do not have their children at school on time can face legal problems. In fact, they can be charged for having their kids late to school and face arrest and fines. Older students can also be arrested for being truant, depending on the circumstances and state law. Tardies can add up to absences, and that can result in truancy, an offense states and school districts take very seriously.

2. Your Child's Learning

When a child is late to school, she misses out on important instruction. Every minute that a child is in school is important to her learning. When she is tardy, she faces the challenge of trying to settle in and catch up with what other students are doing. She is behind and has to struggle to understand material the teacher has already explained. Being late is detrimental to her learning, especially if it occurs on a consistent basis.

3. Other Children's Learning

Other students also suffer when a child is late to school. They have to wait to proceed with a lesson because the teacher is busy trying to catch the late child up. The interruption of a door opening into a classroom and the teacher having to address who is coming in is distracting and can cause students to lose their concentration as well. It wastes time to deal with and then recover from an interruption caused by someone coming in late to class.

4. Preparation for Real Life

Being on time to school is preparation for the world outside of school. When parents focus on punctuality, students learn that not coming to a meeting or event on time is disrespectful of other people’s time and that they miss out on important information. It's a priority of which many high school students are acutely aware, writes Leslie Ford, staff writer for the Sugar Beet student newspaper at Garden City High School in Garden City, Kan. In an April 2011 opinion piece, she notes that job interviews do not wait for people who are late and that tardiness does not help students get ready for the world after graduation.

5. Ways to Prevent Tardiness

Have your child set out her clothes for the next day the night before. Her backpack should contain all her books, supplies and homework she will need for the next day. Get all of the supplies and equipment needed for after school practices and activities ready. Have your son make his lunch if he brings it, and ensure he is in bed at a reasonable hour. Set the alarm 10 or 15 minutes earlier than absolutely necessary to ensure your child has enough time to get to school before the tardy bell rings.

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