37 answers

Help My Son Is Always Late for School.

Help I'm at my wits end! My son is in the first grade and is six years old. He is a wonderful boy with a great personality. However, he is not a morning person. It is impossible to get him up in the morning to get ready for school. I start by going into his room and gently calling his name and saying "good morning". I try to be really positive and cheery but after 15-20 minutes of this I get exasperated. Then once he is up its another battle to get him to dress himself eat breakfast (which I prepare), brush teeth, etc. As a consequence, we are typically 5-10 minutes late for school.

I've tried explaining to him how important it is for him to be on time and that he is responsible for his own actions. I've tried lots of things such as rewarding him for getting ready quickly, or taking away a toy when he refuses to get ready but to no avail. Any tips or "tricks" you can share would be greatly appreciated.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Wow! Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful and clever suggestions. I plan on implementing some of your ideas. Luckily the school year is just about over but I intend to keep him on the same schedule over the summer so that next fall will be a breeze!

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I know a lot of mom's will disapprove but... you could always let him sleep in the clothes he's going to wear to school the next day. (ducks head as Dr. Spock books are thrown at her)

3 moms found this helpful

At six years old, I had to dress my son in his sleep then help him up to brush his teeth. I f he wet his bed, I would have to carry him to the bath and wash him. My son is now Eight years old and getting up, dressing and bathing comes easy. As time went by I nicely talked to my son and told him it was not right fro me to bathe or dress him since he was a man!

2 moms found this helpful

How late does he go to bed at night? That helped with my youngest. I had to make his bedtime earlier so he could get up in the morning.
Some kids(and adults) just aren't morning people. I know it's hard but I'd start getting him up earlier. Right now, it's hard to make him take resposibility for getting up on his own. He's still a little young. Good luck and maybe next year it won't be such a struggle. Make him get up this summer too, so he's used to getting up early. I have my kids on the same schedule whether or not it's summer or break for them.

1 mom found this helpful

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I know a lot of mom's will disapprove but... you could always let him sleep in the clothes he's going to wear to school the next day. (ducks head as Dr. Spock books are thrown at her)

3 moms found this helpful

This is how my parents did it: My mom would turn on the light and say, "K., get up and get ready for school." If I missed the bus or was late, I stayed home and worked all day. Compared to being at home, I loved school. It was so much easier to be there than it was to have to work all day. My dad was different. He usually got me up on the weekends; but, he would come in, turn on the lights, rip off my covers, and shout good morning!

2 moms found this helpful

At six years old, I had to dress my son in his sleep then help him up to brush his teeth. I f he wet his bed, I would have to carry him to the bath and wash him. My son is now Eight years old and getting up, dressing and bathing comes easy. As time went by I nicely talked to my son and told him it was not right fro me to bathe or dress him since he was a man!

2 moms found this helpful

I have 2 boys with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and the morning and evening routines are battles due to their auditory processing issues and difficulty sequencing, like the steps needed to get out the door. I have had success with providing visuals---a list for my 8 year old, who is literate, and a storyboard with pictures for my 4 year old. I also use visual timers and rewards. It is an ongoing process and certainly not perfected because they have other issues with their SPD they contend with every day. Sandboxlearning.com is a website that provides stories where you can personalize the story for your son---it's a small fee for access to print it off or edit for one year.

Best Wishes.

2 moms found this helpful

I use Love and Logic. They say - Car leaves in XX minutes you can wear your clothes or take them, you can eat your breakfast or take it. I love you, I will never leave you but in XX minutes you will be in the car and we are leaving.

I have taken my child to preschool in underwear! once! I am a first grade teacher and tardiness is very frustrasting, and I explain to my students it is disrespectful.

If you want more info, or have questions just email!

1 mom found this helpful

Is he getting enough sleep? Have you tried an earlier bedtime? Or getting up earlier in the morning? My 7 year old daughter is and has always been a zombie in the morning unless she has had a good night of sleep.

1 mom found this helpful

My step daughter is the same way (and the same age). We have to practically drag her out of bed kicking and screaming and then once she is up the two year old gets ready faster than she does. I decided to try something that has worked for us and maybe it will work for you too. We made a schedule and hung it up on her bathroom door. She knows what time we have to leave for school, church, whatever and that we will leave at that time no matter what. All it took was once for her to go to church (I think) without having her hair done and the embarrassment was enough to make her think twice about dragging her feet in the morning. It sounds harsh, but its been the only way we could get her anywhere on time. If there is something on a Sat. that we need to leave for, we will tell her exactly what time we are leaving and how much time that will give her to get ready. HTH!

1 mom found this helpful

S.,

Is there a reason your son does not look forward to going to school?

Have you talked to your son about his feeling about school?

Just looking at a possible reason for his habitual tardiness.

With Joy, C.
Loving Connections LLC

1 mom found this helpful

I've had a couple non-morning childen, too. The good news is they do outgrow it! Here are some things we tried. . . Get clothes out the night before, shoes by the door, backpack by the door. Go to bed by 7. It's okay to lay and read a while, but the act of resting is important. Wake up in the morning as late as possible, but then get up instead of laying around. Dress (clothes are already on the foot of the bed), brush teeth and hair, and potty. Eat breakfast in the car (like an instant breakfast drink and some graham crackers). Even now with a child in kindergarten, 5th, and 7th grade, they get up only 30 minutes before we leave, and all manage to get in and out of the bathroom on time. At least two have time to eat breakfast before we leave in the morning, too. :)

1 mom found this helpful

Not sure if this is something you'd try, but if he is choosing not to get up and dressed, etc. for school, tell him that he will go in his pjs with no breakfast and then follow through with it. I know it seems harsh, but I teach first grade and had a family in your situation try this and it worked for them. It just took one time and all was solved. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

An earlier bedtime, and start to the morning seem like good suggestions. As a working mom, early bedtime was hard for me. It didn't seem right to put the kids to bed after I'd been home with them for just two-three hours. I started premaking dinners so I had more time with the kids at night, and got more organized and focused about how we spent our weekend time together. Also, as he gets older, be sure your after-school care situation involves getting his homework done so you don't have to do that. No TV on weeknights helped us too.

My 7-year-old struggled w/ mornings too. I never thought about an alarm, she seemed so young. But we were housesitting, and her bedroom had an alarm. She loved it! It was amazing to have her appear upstairs near the appointed hour fully dressed. When we got home, I bought a Sonic Boom alarm clock from Amazon. It has a vibrate function that you can't ignore! (Scared me to death, being from earthquake country, so we didn't use that function, but it's a thought.)

1 mom found this helpful

My second child was this way. I would literally have to stand him and dress him myself. It eventually got easier and he finally made the decision to get himself dressed one day. Maybe try waking him a little sooner, 15 minutes earlier, giving him enough time to "wake" and get ready. I know it's tough getting ready some mornings, but once he gets it down he'll be fine. Just stay consistent and try to remain patient, he'll figure it out. Try setting timers on how long he can spend doing one thing, like getting dressed, brushing, etc. Let him know you need his help getting ready in the mornings. Do you set his clothes out the night before? Maybe jokingly stating that he can wear his pj's to school if he's not ready will help! Also remind him that his teacher would like to see him there on time and if he got to school sooner he could play w/his friends before school even begins. Good luck, it won't last forever.

1 mom found this helpful

I used to babysit a 5 year old like this. Her mother worked early, so I was the one who got her up and dressed and fed and off to school each morning. It was such a chore! WHat finally helped was having mom help her lay out her clothes the night before, so there was no question about what she was wearing, and I also started waking her about 1/2 an hour earlier than her usual wake up time to make up for all the dawdling. It wasn't always perfect, but it made the late days fewer and farther between. She just wasn't a morning person!

1 mom found this helpful

S.,

My son is also just finishing up the first grade. He is a very slow eater. He starts school at 7:45. I set an alarm for him that goes off at 6:30. He has to get himself dressed and make his bed. Then we get his breakfast ready. I give him until 7:20 to eat. So the faster he gets dressed and makes his bed the more time he has to eat. At that point , 7:20, it is time to go upstairs and brush his teeth and do his hair. We leave the house to walk to school at 7:30. If he isn't done eating at 7:20, that is his problem and he doesn't get to finish eating. If he messes around too much getting his teeth brushed, then he won't do his hair, but regardless of how much he messes around, we leave the house at 7:30. I know that some people don't like to set an alarm for little kids, but I started it in kindergarten for him so that he will know how to get up to one. (My dad won't get up to one, and I don't want my son doing the same thing.) Instead of being late to school, make the problem his...missing some of his breakfast, getting up to an alarm...

Good luck,
C.

1 mom found this helpful

I have a 4 year old and we go to preschool everyday, she is horrible about getting up in the morning also. I give her several chances to get up and get dressed, she knows if she doesn't, she goes to school in her PJ's. It might also help to fix something for breakfast that he can eat in the car or the bus, breakfast burrito, poptart, toasted pb and j sandwich, cereal in a bag ect. Breakfast in the car has saved us tons of time. Good Luck

1 mom found this helpful

How late does he go to bed at night? That helped with my youngest. I had to make his bedtime earlier so he could get up in the morning.
Some kids(and adults) just aren't morning people. I know it's hard but I'd start getting him up earlier. Right now, it's hard to make him take resposibility for getting up on his own. He's still a little young. Good luck and maybe next year it won't be such a struggle. Make him get up this summer too, so he's used to getting up early. I have my kids on the same schedule whether or not it's summer or break for them.

1 mom found this helpful

S.,

After trying some of the great consequences you have been given by the other moms ( I love the idea of making him go to school in his PJS and the natural consequences), I would see if there is some consequence the school could give him if he is tardy so many times in a week. The school should have somebody, his teacher or even the principal, sit down with him and explain that it is important to be on time and what the consequence is if you are late more than a set number of times. I used to teach middle school before I became a SAHM and if you don't nip it in the butt and get control now it will only get worse. Best of luck.

1 mom found this helpful

with 13 kids in our family this was a really BIG issue! lol. My dad finally started to tell use the first time, Get up, if I have to come get you again I will pour a cup of water on you. he'd then flick water on us the next time if a couple of drops didn't get us up, he did pour the cup on us. I think I had the cup poured on me twice. Then I was always getting up for school. some people might say it was mean, but you know, I look back at it and I laugh and I think good for you dad. He made a consiquence that was not dangerous but got the message across. (it wasn't a whole cup just a couple of swallows but it did the trick) and he followed through.

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S.-
Try getting him up earlier. Getting him to bed earlier. Much earlier, by the sounds of things. I would suggest around 8 for a boy that young, if not earlier. And if it never works to be nice in the morning, don't bother.

1 mom found this helpful

First of all, good news! The school year seems to be winding down so your son will be able to sleep in. My advice though, and take it with a grain of salt, is to send him to bed a little earlier. Also, with summer on the way, I would also suggest about 4-6 weeks before school begins again, practice getting up, getting dressed, breakfast, etc and reward him with a trip to the library for a fave book or movie, a trip with a picnic to the park or something "Fun". Sometimes when my 7 year old is being pokey, we will race to see who can get ready faster. The winner gets to chose lunch, book, tv time or whatever. It works.

1 mom found this helpful

Give him an alarm clock. It always makes me grumpy when I am woken up by someone else. You can't be grumpy with an alarm clock because you are the one who sets it. So I say get him an alarm clock. Then help him set it each night. It will increase the responsibility that rests on his shoulders for getting to school on time and lessen the responsibility that you have on your shoulders. It will show him that you expect him to be responsible. Always make him turn off the alarm clock. Make sure you are getting him to bed on time. An appropriate bedtime for a child his age is BEFORE he gets sleepy. Once a kid is sleepy then it is past his age-appropriate bed time.

Also, have him pick out all of his clothes for the week on Sunday evenings. Hang the clothes in the closet with a tag, post-it, whatever works for you, labeling the days of the week stuck to each outfit. Then the night before, help him (don't do it yourself, have him do it so he feels responsibility) get the outfit for the next day down and create a "clothing kid" (lay the clothes on the floor in the shape of a kid) complete with underwear and socks and shoes for the next day. As he goes to bed discuss what will happen the next day. "Tomorrow we will wake up, make our beds, say prayers, go to the bathroom, get dressed, put on our shoes, eat breakfast, brush teeth..." etc. In first grade kids learn a lot about sequences and are just beginning to control order and completely understand timing of everything. You may even consider creating a poster with those things in order.

Help him read the clock. "You get up at 7:00. This is what the clock looks like at 7:00. You need to be dressed and ready for breakfast at 7:30. This is what the clock looks like at 7:30." etc.

Good luck. Hope that helps.

1 mom found this helpful

If he is not a morning person --- you can't change his personality. Work with it instead of against it. My mom said my brother was the same way. She got him up early and let him slowly wake up in front of the tv. Your son is a little young to understand the lecture. I think making the morning routine fun with songs and games would be a better approach. My son starts kindergarten this year so I will be facing a challenge as well. I tell him that if he gets dressed and has breakfast, etc. quickly he can watch cartoons before we go. My challenge is getting him to put on his underwear and socks. My son is very competitive so I try to make everything a race or tell him he is too slow. That gets him moving. Your plan of attack is knowing your son's personality. It will be interesting to see others' strategies.

1 mom found this helpful

I'm a teacher, so I can tell you that having a student late for school consistently is not only frustrating for you, but the teacher too. Heres my take on the situation. You are the parent, you are in charge, you set the schedule. Tell your son that you are leaving at X time becuase that is when you need to leave to get him to school on time and being late is no longer an option. Then you leave at that time regardless of what is left undone. Take him to school teeth unbrushed, hair undone, still in his pajamas, whatever (move breakfast to the front of the routine). Once he knows you're serious he'll follow your schedule. I would, however, let the teacher know what you'll be doing so he or she isn't worried when your son shows up to school in PJs one day. =)

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try love and logic techniques. Set a schedule: you are up at...breakfast is between 7-7:30...and so on. If he mises breakfast, he doesn't get it. also: my car starts at 7:45. then grab him in his PJs and put him in the car with the clothes bagged up (you got it ready the day before). Make sure to call the school and tell them the plan. See if a Secretary or something will play along, etc. Make sure to practice all the timng a couple of times. like have him get in his PJs and in bed before dinner. then "wake" him and have dinner be breakfast and go through getting dressed and in the car. Even drive to the school. Make it a game and time it. se if he can beat his times a couple evenings in a row. they love challenges. lastly, I didn't weigh much, but my mom used to pick me up until I was prettu old, and put me on the toilet in a cold, very cold bathroom. that pretty much did the trick. He isn't old enough to get up on his very own yet, but sitting there calling him for 20 minutes isn't working. It is like and alam, he has toned it out. ry an alarm lock or two all ove the room five minuts apart. then, go in abnd say, reafast in two minutes if you choose to eat. Again, time that and clear the plate if he doesn't make it.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S., I have the same problem with my 7 year old. I don't know when you are putting him to bed, but I started putting my son in bed a half an hour earlier and that seemed to help. He would even start waking up by himself. I know it is frustrating but be patient. In my experience getting upset only made things worse.

1 mom found this helpful

We have a CD called Miracle Music. It is a morning and evening routine set to music. I love it. Even my 13 year old would get up and get moving in the morning with this CD. You can find it at www.childrensmiraclemusic.com.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful

Hi S.,
We have found a wonderful solution to this problem: Miracle Music Chore Chart. It is a game to help kids get ready in the morning and get ready for bed at night. It is designed for kids to be self-motivated in getting ready. You won't have to remind or nag or loose your patience again.

Check out www.childrensmiraclemusic.com which will explain it better for you.

1 mom found this helpful

First off I'd want to know what time he's going to sleep - you may want to get him into bed a half hour earlier. I know that this can be difficult, you may need to start a half hour before that with some calming activities to get him ready for sleep... it can also take a 3 - 10 days for him to adjust to an earlier bedtime.

Another option is to accept that he is slow moving in the mornings and start the morning routine 10 - 15 minutes earlier. Put an alarm clock in his room (away from his bed) that will go off 5 - 10 minutes before you go in. Don't (ever) shut it off for him, instead wake him and have him turn it off. Sooner or later he'll be getting up himself to turn it off. (Don't expect this to happen, just allow it to naturally evolve to that).

I know how frustrating it can be especially when you have to get to work on time yourself. When I was working my older son liked to get up a little earlier so we could read together. Special time with mom or dad is a HUGE motivator for kids - until about age 13 - better than any toy or treat, and its also a positive natural consequence.

1 mom found this helpful

This worked for my daughter. Put him on a time table.
Up at whatever
Teeth brushed-
Dressed by-
The list goes on and you give him enough time to get everything done. The bit come when he is late he goes to bed 15 min early or a half hour. If he is as late as you say, it will only take a few days. Make sure he goes to bed early or it will back fire.
Good Luck,
C. B

1 mom found this helpful

One of my sons used to do the same thing. I got so exasperated with him that I finally told him that the car for school was leaving at 8:00 sharp and he would be in it no matter what condition he was in. The next morning I dragged him kicking and screaming and put him in the car in his underwear and drove to school : ). I had secretly packed a grocery bag full of clothes,socks,shoes etc and put his backpack in the trunk the night before. He had to get dressed in the school parking lot and go to class with no breakfast but the good thing was, I only had to do it twice before he knew I meant business!! He started laying out his clothes the night before and kept his backpack by the door and we were on time after that since all I had to do was ask him if he planned on getting dressed at school again and he would jump out of bed : ). Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Move his bedtime up by 1/2 hour. Explain to him that since he can't get up in the morning, it proves to you that he needs to go to bed earlier. Then start your attempt to get him up in the morning 15 minutes earlier. If that doesn't work, let him go to school one day in his pajamas and without breakfast. When it's time to leave the house in the morning, it's time to leave the house, regardless if he's ready or not. Let him feel embarassed and hungry - he'll learn his lesson, just tell the school you're trying to teach your son a lesson, they shouldn't have a problem with it. The main thing is if you start something, you have to follow through. Empty threats won't work, he'll call your bluff. Or try this, get one of those really annoying alarm clocks that are loud and put it on the other side of his room, set it to 10 - 15 minutes before he really needs to get up. Or set up several alarm clocks, make sure they're REALLY annoying ones and go off every 2 minutes. By the time you go in to his room, he shouldn't be surprised that it's time to get up. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

OK, I do not have one old enough for school, yet ... but I have heard of a different approach. The natural consequence of not being ready for school is to go to school 'unready.' If he isn't dressed yet, he goes to school in his pajamas, without brushing his teeth, etc. Tell the teacher about your plan (so they don't think you're just being negligent). Maybe his friends telling him his breath stinks, or how silly that he's still in his pajamas might be more of an impact. But ... I haven't tried it, so I don't know if it will work. I also agree with everyone about the alarm clock. He is old enough to get dressed and teeth brushed by himself, so give him that responsibility. Good luck! I'd love to know what works (I will probably be in the same situation in about two years!). :)

1 mom found this helpful

Try an earlier bedtime, explaining that he needs to be up and ready for school and you need to find the right bedtime for him to be well rested. If he can't wake up then then continue to push bedtime. earlier and earlier. Either you'll figure out a better time to get to bed for enough sleep or he'll figure out that he needs to get up in order to go to bed "later"

Just my thought.. it seems that he is not rested enough if he has a hard time waking up.

1 mom found this helpful

HI S., my youngest (now 16) suffers from chronic fatigue so I understand what you are saying. We finally began putting him to bed at 7 pm when he was in grade school so that he would be able to get up on time to catch the bus. Now that he is in HS he still goes to bed between 8:30 and 9:00 most nights so he can drag himself out of bed by 6:30.

On of the things for punishment - that we still do to this day - is if he oversleeps he goes to bed 30 minutes earlier that night, obviously if he is hard to get up that morning he MUST be too tired and needs to go to bed EARLIER that night. He hates that, especially if its on a Friday and he wanted to go to the show or a game with friends, sorry you overslept and you have to be in bed by 8 and I dont care if its the weekend!

You can also try giving him an alarm clock - Josh has had one for several years now - and let him wake himself up with it rather than you. DONT SHOW HIM THE SNOOZE BUTTON until he is old enough to understand the consequences - like the 3 mile walk to school when the bus is missed. Sometimes the "mother voice" that they learn to ignore when you are telling them to clean their room or eat their veggies is also ignored when sleeping and so if you have him use an alarm (they have some cute ones now that talk and say "Good morning time to wake up" and such as that - Josh's first one was a Lionel train that went around on a track and then said "all aboard") he can't ignore that. AND DONT put it within arms reach of his bed! So he has to get out of bed to turn it off.

Hope these ideas help - early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise . . .

God Bless
nmh

1 mom found this helpful

My son does the exact same thing! I call him my "stop and smell the roses kid". Seems to be a common boy problem! :) He has to be headed out the door by 7:40 to get to school and eat breakfast. So we start the wake up process at 6:30. It takes patience and persistance from his dad and I but it does work. We turn his light on at 6:30 and give that a couple of minutes to start working on him. Then we gently tell him to wake up every few minutes after that. We have to kick the dog out of his bed otherwise that provides a distraction for him! It does take 20 minutes some mornings to get him out of bed but he does eventually do it and starts the process of actually getting ready. And he typically has time to sit and watch some cartoons before school. And we still have time to get a pre-teen, a toddler and ourselves ready and out the door for babysitter's house, school and work!

1 mom found this helpful

Start sending him to bed earlier. It may be that he isn't getting enough sleep. Try 30 minutes earlier for a week or so. If that doesn't work, then do 1 hour earlier. He may complain about not getting to stay up as late, but tell him that is the consequence for not waking up well. I had to do this with a 7yr old boy I nannied. He had two older brothers who shared a room with him and none of them would get to bed until midnight. So I started putting him to bed at 8pm. He whined and threw fits the first few times because his older brothers were still up, but I found that by warning him at 7 that he had an hour until bedtime, then at 730 he had 30 minutes, and continue reminding him every so often that it was almost time for bed, he was able to handle it better.

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S.,

I truly loved the "Love and Logic" parenting style and books. It's all about parenting in a way that shows you trust your children have all the skills they need to handle life, and you would rather they learn from their mistakes when they are small ones. Your son's lateness may just be because YOU worry about it for him. Why should he be concerned or try to change when he doesn't really care? I was a nanny for a six year old boy, who also had a hard time with "transitioning", and Love and Logic sure made it easier!
I'd say you would be a lot more stress free if you try this: Gently let him know that you will no longer be able to manage his morning, as you are busy getting yourself ready. Then, let him know what time your car will be leaving (or bus?) for school, and you expect him to be in the car and ready by that time. Maybe even guide him through what steps are involved (waking, clothes, food, backpack, etc.). Lastly, let him know that you KNOW he can do this.
The next school day, don't do ANYTHING for him out of the ordinary. (So, wake him one time, leave breakfast out where he can get it, etc.) Five minutes before the designated "leaving time", let him know that in five minutes the car is leaving with him dressed or not (fed or not, etc.). I know it sounds harsh, but the first time he goes to school in his pajamas, or hungry will be the last. Finally, be sure that you don't ever tell him the lesson. When he gets to school in his pajamas say "I'm so sorry about that. I would hate going to school in my pajamas too. Well, good luck." You want to be the shoulder to cry on, NOT the bad guy. I promise its better for him to learn about this now than be consistently late to all his college classes because he didn't learn how to get himself ready in the mornings. There's just less on the line.

I really hope this helps. If it sounds good, but I'm not explaining very well, get "Love and Logic" by Cline and Fay. It's fantastic!

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