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Teach children before it’s too ‘late’

Our first bell at UCHS rings at 7:30 a.m. For students who are present, this allows plenty of time to go to lockers so they can grab that first period textbook, stop by the restroom, say hello to the variety of friends they pass in the hall and still make it to class before the 7:45 late bell.
And yet, each morning as I stand in the hallway I see 20 or more students walking through our doors at 7:50, 7:55 and 8. Many times they arrive with friends. It’s not unusual to see them carrying a fast food drink cup and a biscuit. When I tell them they’re late and to hurry to class, they’ll often grin and tell me they need to stop at a locker then the bathroom first which makes them even later.
A student who is 10 minutes late every day will miss approximately 30 hours of instruction during the year. Thirty hours. That’s twenty class periods, which is equal to a full week of school. Yes, students who are late or absent can copy notes or make up assignments but they cannot recover the class discussions, teacher explanations or group activities that make learning more meaningful.
Research shows there is a direct correlation between attendance and achievement. Every minute a student is not in class affects how well they do in school.
This doesn’t just mean at the beginning of the day either. We have four classes each day. Students are expected to be on time for each of their classes. No one class is less important than any other class. Tardiness is not acceptable at any time of the day and affects the learning that goes on in that class.
“It’s okay, I’m only missing biology and I have a good grade in there,” is not an excuse. If it’s a good grade now, it could be even better if that student was in their seat from the beginning.
One of the traits employers list as being most valuable to their organizations is good attendance and punctuality. Students may tell us that if this were a job they would do better, but the evidence doesn’t support that claim.
It seems that the traits we establish when we’re young follow us into adulthood. Late teens tend to be late adults. Students with attendance problems in school grow up to be adults who have attendance problems at work. And as we know, adults who have these problems find it difficult to keep a job.
Do you know what time your student gets to school? We often have parents tell us, “But they left the house at 7!” That may be. But it takes time to pick up two friends and then stop for breakfast. Or did you know that our 7:45 bell is actually our late bell? That’s the time we start class, so anyone arriving after 7:45 is considered tardy.
If your student is leaving home at 7:30, they may need an earlier start. Has your student brought home a discipline slip for being tardy to class? Take it seriously. Have the talk.
Good attendance and punctuality are personal traits that will benefit students for a lifetime and it starts now. Help your student have the skills they will need to be a good employee.
Teach them what is necessary to become an adult who can keep a job and provide for their family. Good attendance and punctuality are not an option. They are essential skills for life.