running late

6 Ways to Deal with Students who are Late to Class

Do you struggle with students who are consistently 5 minutes late for class? How do you handle them?  Do you let them clock in and come into class?  Do you stop the class and let them get caught up?  Do you ignore them?  Dealing with this behavior can be frustrating because it interrupts the flow of your class and can be distracting to both you and the other students.

When dealing with this situation be sure to always follow your school policy and be consistent.  What you do for one student, you must do for all students.

Here are 6 suggestions that might help encourage students to show up on time:

  1. Set Clear Expectations. Make it clear right up front that prompt attendance is expected of them during their education.  From admissions to orientation to the first day in your classroom, be clear on what is expected of them.  Always set high expectations for your students, they will usually rise to the occasion.
  2. Be the Example. Always begin your class on time.   You can’t start late and ask the students to show up on time.  When you start class late you encourage students to do the same in return.
  3. Start Class Powerfully. Not only should you always start on time but you should start with a bang.  Begin with a fun activity or game to engage the students.  As the late students come walking in, they will have to wait until it is over and miss out on the fun.  This may help motivate them to arrive on time the next day.
  4. Thank You. How about a simple “thank you” to the students who arrived on time? Positive reinforcement and praising the students who do things right is a powerful tactic.  Remember, what gets praised and rewarded will get repeated.
  5. Reward Early Arrivals. Speaking of positive reinforcement, reward those who arrive early and are prepared for class by having a short assignment on the board.  The assignment is one that can be completed before class begins, such as a video they can watch on their phone, a blog article to read, or an Instagram account to look up.  For all students who arrive early, they can complete the short assignment before class begins and receive 5 extra credit points on their test.
  6. Late Students Sit in the Back. Leave a few seats empty in the back for late comers. Make it clear to all students that if they are to arrive for class late they must sit in the back and are not to disturb the class when they enter.  Don’t stop what you are doing to get them up to speed, simply let them come in and sit quietly.

It is important to realize that these steps may not solve all of your tardiness problems.  You may still have a student who just can’t get to class on time.  When that happens, you need to sit down and have a private meeting with the student to find out what is causing them to arrive late.  It is important to understand the cause of their tardiness.  It may be something out of their control.  If necessary, work with your administration to find a solution to the challenge.

Remember, the goal is get the student showing up on time while minimizing any negative impact on the other students in the classroom.

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Lisha Barnes

Lisha Barnes

Lisha Barnes is a Cosmetology/Barber Instructor with over 25 years of experience. She started out in a small private school working in Admissions, Financial Aid, Education, and School Director. She was a Director of Education for a chain of Private Cosmetology schools. Currently she serves as the Academic Development Manager for Milady where she supports schools and educators around the nation with continuing education, curriculum development and product knowledge. Lisha has served as an Educator for Milady’s Career Institute; NACCAS Commission; Career Educators of America Committee Member; and has authored numerous writing projects for Milady. This industry experience allows her to see the industry from a variety of viewpoints, which helps in sharing information and ideas with educators all around the world.