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Getting Your Child to School on Time

It seems easy, right? You wake up the kids in the morning and either send them walking to school, put them on a bus or throw them in your car and give them a lift to school. This way, when the morning bell rings, your child will be sitting in his or her class with the rest of their schoolmates, ready and able to face a full day of educational ‘paradise.’

Sadly, for many parents however, this is not the case. Instead of getting the kids to school on time in the morning, they are constantly and forever behind of schedule – which means that the kids are faced with tardy slips and have to burst into their classroom after announcements and once curriculum based learning has already begun.

In the United States, tardiness and truancy are becoming rampant problems. A study performed by the United States Board of Education shows that truancy and tardiness have a negative effect on your child’s education and play a role in a child’s success in the future. The 2009 study by the US Department of Education on truancy shows the outcome of tardiness as follows:

  • Students who are frequently tardy have lower grades, scores on standardized assessments, and graduation rates. Chronic tardiness in elementary and middle school is associated with failure in high school. A national study reported higher rates of absenteeism and tardiness for dropouts (Ekstrom, Goertz, Pollack, and Rock, 1986).
  • Teachers surveyed for the National Center for Education Statistics 2007 Indicators of School Crime and Safety, reported that students who are frequently tardy have higher rates of suspension and other disciplinary actions.
  • Students who are frequently tardy to school are more apt to have attendance and tardiness problems when entering the workforce.

Just this year, one school district in Loudon County Virginia, which was experiencing high incidences of morning tardiness, drastically changed their attendance policy. When children, even those at the elementary school level, reached a certain amount of tardy indicators on the attendance report – parents became responsible. These parents, who had to sign the schools countywide attendance policy at the onset of the school year, were not only being fined in excess of $3,000 but being incarcerated on charges of truancy as well. The school district feeling that it was more of a parental responsibility than a child responsibility to get kids to school on time, also reports these cases to local DFACS agencies and puts the parents on probation afterwards as part of a no tolerance policy. In just one year after implementation of the policy, the school district saw one of the best all around attendance rates in the entire United States.

Many other school districts have followed suit and around 98% of all US school districts have some sort of attendance policy in place which also includes simple tardiness. The trick is enforcing the policy which often takes additional personnel for the school system as well involvement of local law enforcement to act as truancy officers.

All of this for being just a little late for class? Is it a bit excessive?

Educators say no. Educators and school administrators also believe that too many parents are lax about school starting times. When children burst into the door of their school 20 minutes after school is started, not only does it disrupt the teacher, but the other students as well. And additionally, for many schools which have a traffic and safety plan in place during morning drop off, the tardy children can also cause a safety issue as well. Plus, it is downright rude. Not only are these parents arriving late disrupting their own child, but they are also disrupting other children in the classroom and the teacher as well.

Many people also ask what sort of example is being set for children whose parents do not feel the need to arrive to school on time and follow the rules. If parents are lax or don’t respect school starting times, the message to children can be fatal to their education and their own developing attitudes about attendance. And the truth is that each and every family has the same opportunity to arrive to school on time as the other. The key is planning and preparation and being committed to making sure that your child arrives to school on time with his or her classmates.

Getting a child to school on time, each and every day, and making attendance a habit is a fundamental ‘life ethic’ that every child needs to learn. Certainly, there will be some days when you have the unexpected happen, or when you have a medical appointment. At one point or another, the alarm is NOT going to go off and you and your family will oversleep. But excessive tardiness, and making tardiness a habit is quite simply irresponsible on the part of the parent and completely unnecessary. Doing so, on a regular basis shows and instills an elitist attitude and according to studies can lead to your child being chronically late in life.

If you have trouble getting your child to school on time on a regular basis, for whatever reason – it is imperative that you take steps to correct the problem. You might need to plan and prepare for the school day the night before, get the kids to sleep a little earlier (or yourself), and take critical steps to being more organized in your life. The example that you set by getting your child to school on time is an important one – and one that will live on in their minds in the future.

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