Editor's Note:
Here's a good discussion we have saved about a problem that never seems to go away. Your thoughts are welcome.




Our Sunday School starts at 9:45 and runs to 10:45 however, 1/2 of our Sunday School (adults and kids) typically don't show up until 10:00. When we started rotation in January, we knew that now more than ever it was important that the kids arrive on time, because the rotations are packed with information and activities and children wandering in the classroom every few minutes for the first 20 minutes of class is disruptive. So our policy is that if you arrive after 9:50 you have to wait in the check in area with all other stragglers and you will be admitted all at once into class at 10:05.

At first, this seemed to be working, we had kids telling their parents they had to get to church on time. I guess after the initial 'honeymoon' period though, I started having kids arriving late again. I held to my policy and made them wait. Now a few of these habitually late families apparently aren't even trying to make it to Sunday School because they haven't been in weeks although they are there for the service which starts at 11:00.

I guess I wonder if my arrival policy is too strict. How do others deal with the 'habitually late'?

Original Post
Hmmmm. Interesting question. I guess I would say that you should not penalize the half who do arrive on time and enable those who choose not to arrive on time.
Is there a way to enlist support from the pastor/council/leadership to encourage on time arrival? A letter from the pastor perhaps?
it sounds as though there is something of a culture of "Sunday School is not really important", but that may be a reach on my part.
the truth is that adults know when things begin, and they must manage to arrive on time for things like work and school during the week, and they are making a deliberate choice to be late.
I admit I tend to be something of a "hard-nose" about this kind of thing, but if anyone in this world is going to have high standards and call people to better things, should it not be the church? If we do not think what we offer is important enough not to miss, why should anyone else?
Strictly my opinion!
Blessings
Jan
Definately rewarding good behavior is key. We struggle with kids bringing their bibles to Sunday School. Well we now have a system where when the bring their bibles (5 times for 3rd graders) and 10 times for 4 & 5 th that get to choice a small reward usually a pencil or something small that say Jesus loves them, like a bookmark. It isn't 100% successful, but it does work. Part of our problem is making sure if the kids bring the bibles the used the bibles.
We also have problems with kids arriving late and it is very frustrating. We start at 8:40 and use the first 15-20 minutes for time with Shepherd, snack, attendance so if kids do arrive late, they don't miss the workshops. This year we sent an information letter to the parents. It was just sent so not sure if it will help. In the letter we described our rotation theme and schedule for the year. Our kids can earn badges for various things and we highlighted in the letter they earn a sticker each week they are on time for their "On Time" badge. We also highlighted they earn stickers for their "Bring Bible" badge. Kids can be responsible for bringing their Bibles but the parents are responsible for getting their children to church on time! After a couple of months, we will have the kids take their "On Time" and "Bring Bible" badges home to show their parents.

The kids each have a fishing vest they will wear each week and this is what they attach their badges to. The first week of our rotation, we are going to have the kids wear their vests to church and go up front to show them off. We will describe each badge and how they earn them.

I will let you know if this seemed to help.

Angie Richie
Reddick UMC
The problem I have with some of these REWARD and punishment systems is that they are punishing the kids for having parents who bring them late. It's not the kid's fault. I would never make a child wait outside a classroom. Late arrivers are not THAT disruptive. Teachers that have problems with them are probably having a "control" issue.

(WWJD? How about the parable of the late coming "Laborers in the Vineyard" as a clue, or the Lost Sheep.)

Another question: Why should a church think it has to play "cop" on those who arrive late? We are not the public school. Do we punish late arrivers in worship or for meetings? Sounds like a double standard for kids.

Encouragement yes, restrictions NO.

<>< Neil
I agree with Neil. The best behavior incentive for parents is for the kids to want to be there and be there on time. Instead of doing 'busy work, attendance, checkin etc. how about something short and fun and start it righ on time.
the kids who come late will still get the full workshop but will hear about a fun activity, game song, that they missed. Maybe an 'energizer'.
Reward for those who are on time, incentive for those who are later, and the message is not: " it's okay to be late because they don't do anything the first 10 minutes anyway."
I also agree with Neil and Lynn. We have the same problem. Don't you find it amazing that parents can have the children to school by 8:00 all week and on Sunday not make it by 9:00. I think we need to focus on the fact that they are there. I know there are so many families that don't make Sunday School or even church a prioroty. I love the idea of earning badges or maybe beads like my son does in Cub Scouts.

Blessings,
Anne
What we have started to do this year is prior to the children going into the classroom, we run a 5 to 10 minute "opening" to take our offering, remind them where their offering is going for the month (all offerings are donated to a local charity in the childrens name) talk with the children, pray with the children. By the time we are done... they are all there.
Hi!
We have had this problem as well, but I think we have found a solution. We do start at 9:30 am (directly after the 8:30 service ends) and have a time of music playing in the background, treats provided (some kids don't get breakfast so a healthy snack keeps the energy up) and then we do group singing (sometimes with hand held insturments) a group prayer and offering until 10:00. I (Sunday School Director) announce each week who is going where and each group of students follows the Shepherd & teacher to the classroom. I do not have a teaching position myself, so that I can assist late arrivals to where they need to go, give an extra hand to teachers as needed and most importantly, help the parents FIND their child when the class time is over. So far, it is working well!
Best wishes!

Heidi Jo
quote:
Originally posted by Marg:
Our Sunday School starts at 9:45 and runs to 10:45 however, 1/2 of our Sunday School (adults and kids) typically don't show up until 10:00. When we started rotation in January, we knew that now more than ever it was important that the kids arrive on time, because the rotations are packed with information and activities and children wandering in the classroom every few minutes for the first 20 minutes of class is disruptive. So our policy is that if you arrive after 9:50 you have to wait in the check in area with all other stragglers and you will be admitted all at once into class at 10:05. At first, this seemed to be working, we had kids telling their parents they had to get to church on time. I guess after the initial 'honeymoon' period though, I started having kids arriving late again. I held to my policy and made them wait. Now a few of these habitually late families apparently aren't even trying to make it to Sunday School because they haven't been in weeks although they are there for the service which starts at 11:00. I guess I wonder if my arrival policy is to strict. How do others deal with the 'habitually late'?
-To solve this for us we begin with all the children gathered together in 1 room(we call our sanctuary in the children's area)for 15 minutes. During this time the children can tell us something exciting they'd like to share, or a show and tell item, pray request and then we dismiss them to their different classes. Not only does this allow time for the late comers to come in without disturbing class but the children love to tell us teachers and their friends things that have happened since they last saw us. This helps them vent before lesson time to us all at the same time. Gets it out of their system and seems there's less disruption during class.
What our sunday School program has been doing still faces the same problem with late comers, however, like the narritive above, we have a fellowship time, that is mostly group music. It also had a group prayer, offering and brief group question and answer about what they did last week and what they will be doing this week. They then are all called, one by one to go to their classrooms with teachers/shepherds. Oh, how could I forget? They also grab a treat going into the room before the singing. The group time is 9:35-10:00. Rotations were from 10:00-10:20 and 10:25-10:45. Best wishes!
Heidi Jo Sovacool, WI

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