Tardy First Graders

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Question:

Dear Jane and positive discipline associates,
I teach an extended day program for first graders who are in need of extra help with reading and math. The program began with a four week summer session. Tardies were rarely a problem because school began at 8:45. Now that we are on a regular school schedule, our Project H.E.L.P. program begins at 7:30 a.m. I realize this is an adjustment for families, but only one student has been consistently on time. The other nine children have been from five to ten minutes late every day this week! Because we only have 30 minutes together, it's critical that the kids arrive on time. I have one parent who is now considering taking her son out of the program because of the early start time, and the resulting phone calls from me when her son is absent/late.
I am feeling frustrated with and unsupported by the parents of these children. I am trying to be empathetic to the parents' perspective, but I don't have children of my own. I'm a new teacher. What approach do you suggest I take with the parents?
Thank you for your help with this problem. I appreciate it! Barbara

Answer:

Hi Barbara, Logical consequences mean allowing people to experience the consequences of their choices. If your students are late, they miss out. The student who is always on time gets more help. It is your job to provide the program, but not to force people to take it. You just make yourself (and others) miserable when you try to control their behavior. I suggest you send a letter letting people know that children miss a lot when they are not on time, that you will start on time and hope they will be there, but respect their right to choose.. Then allow it to be their choice if they miss or not. That is the most respectful way to handle it -- for you and for others. I wish you the best.

Jane Nelsen