Up until about the age of 10 children do not understand time; consequently, they have problems planning, using their time wisely, and being on time. Older children who have a habit of being 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.
o 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.
o Help children learn organizational skills like planning their 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 comes up. This gives children a clearer picture of how much time various activities take.
o 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 makes them look bad, but it also inconveniences other people.
o Give the whole class a reward if everyone is on time. Children who are late will have a roomful of angry faces to contend with when they arrive.
o Carry on your lesson and let late children face the natural consequence of not knowing what to do for half-an-hour, and having to catch up in their spare time.
o Every so often have a special class surprise first thing in the morning.
o Role-play with children what happens to them if they’re late for important people like friends, church, parents, and doctors. Discuss how these people will feel and how the children would feel if they were left waiting.
o Tape drawings on children’s desks of how their watch-faces look when they’re on time for class. If children are sitting in their desk at the exact time the drawing shows, they earn a reward.
o Count the number of minutes children are late and have them give you back those minutes after school.
o Make late students your helping hands, assign them duties which have to be done before class starts–setting up a science experiment or film projector, for instance.
o Ask your class to recommend a consequence for being late. Usually their ideas are harsher than the ones you come up with, which may motivate children who are late to be on time.
o Invite children who don’t want to come in from recess to stay out and play until they’re ready to come in. Being the only one left on the playground is not much fun.