Some of your students are arriving late to lessons. Again. You run through the usual lecture. You hear yourself repeating words you’ve said a hundred times already this term, and it’s only the end of October.

The late students miss out, you face playing catch-up with them, and your punctual students must suffer too. No one benefits from this situation. So what can you do to encourage them to be on time?

Here are a few suggestions to help you manage persistent lateness.

Introduce a set of rules and expectations

Set and communicate your rules for latecomers and stick with them, whatever they are.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t change your strategy during the term if you’re still struggling with late students, however it does mean that a new policy calls for talking with your students about what the changes are and why they are being made.

Explain why punctuality is important and how it affects the rest of the class. Apply your rules to all students without favouritism, and speak positively about students’ punctuality.

Start every class with a bang

Begin every lesson with an attention-grabbing exercise – capture imaginations with a concept or question that resonates and make the atmosphere all the more exciting to be in.

If students who are late feel that they are missing out on exciting activities, they may just be motivated to arrive in good time for the next lesson.

Reach out and speak to those who are late

Why?…. That’s the question, and understanding the answer is sometimes the only way that you can help those students who persist in disturbing your class with their late arrival.

Take the time to discreetly ask why, listen and give credence to their answer (or attempt to read between the lines if all you receive is limited feedback).

A next step could be speaking with their parents or opting for disciplinary actions (but you should explain what the next step will be, why it may be implemented, and how they can avoid it).

Introduce a competition

Put up a punctuality leader board chart in your classroom. Award points for arriving early and on time, and deduct points for arriving late. The first student arriving in class can become the timekeeper for the other students.

This can be a great way to get them thinking about maths as well – each student is given a time when they arrive so that they can calculate the number of points awarded or deducted based on the number of minutes and seconds they are early or late.

Lead by example

With all of the above in place, don’t be late yourself. No late marking, no late starts, no late special lesson tasks that were promised last week. Encouraging students to be punctual will be much more difficult if they don’t respect you in this matter.

There’s no fail-safe solution – overcoming lateness is very much a case of trial and error. Discuss options and solutions with your colleagues, learn from your experiences and don’t be afraid to reach out to your leadership team if you need more ideas.

Remember that children are very much individuals – what works for one student may not work for another.