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Outside Myself

Outside Myself
West Coast Body, East Coast Heart, California,
January 19
Don't even have to knock...come on in.
I am now 47 and perfectly OK with that. I've been a mom for over 14 years now. I live a rather simple yet difficult life of trying to make sure my daughters are polite, well-educated and know they are loved beyond question. I do my best to give my family whatever they need. And I'm trying to take care of myself. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx I am infinitely trying to make people happy, make people laugh, make people feel good about themselves. I compliment often, but only with sincerity. I spend way too much time thinking about what might be the "right" thing to do in any given situation. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx This is a personal journey for me. I have grown in ways I didn't know were possible. AND AN UPDATE: Don't forget your worth. This speaks to everyone, not just me. xoxoxo ~~~~ And thx, B. My heart was beginning to thaw but your beautiful friendship has melted it. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx FURTHER UPDATE: - B, darling, you have brought me love and peace. You sent the words, "Be gentle with yourself." I am able to do so only because you have been gentle with my heart. I love you, soul mate.xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx And now, it's been 18 months... So incredible to recall where I was and where your love has taken me...xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx And now, two years have passed since those first simple PMs...xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxAnd now, three...xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxAnd now FIVE!!! :-)


JANUARY 13, 2010 1:45PM

Kids Do Detention Because Parents Bring Them to School Late?

Rate: 24 Flag

I coach one of my daughters' basketball and volleyball teams at their K-8 parochial school.  Every couple of weeks, a few of my players must miss practice after school because they have detention.  

As they tell me this, I always just put up my hand and say, "You don't have to explain why - none of my business.  Just take care of it and we'll see you at the next practice, honey." 


Here's the thing:  I actually already know that they are serving detention due to tardies.  I'm at drop-off each morning and I see them come running into the school late almost every day!  


One family has three daughters.  Another has a live music venue and successful restaurant as well as other similar ventures.   ETC.   I understand that everyone has a lot on their plates,  but this is EVERY day.


Here's how the current school system works: 

1.  After a certain number of tardies, the child gets detention.

2.  After a certain number of detentions, the child's grade is affected.


I contend it's not their fault.  Sure, occasionally, the child (or parent) will run behind because they can't find their sweatshirt or shoe or homework - or the dog ate all three - but every day to the point of detention?  


I believe it is the parents' responsibility to get them out the door and to school on time. 


These kids aren't receiving detention because of  bad behavior, for which they absolutely should serve detention.  It's simply because they are late.


I don't feel that punishing the children achieves what it ought to achieve.


My thoughts on the system: 

1.  What they do in school is negated by a drop in grade for something beyond their control.

2.  They should not feel stressed because of their parents' inability to arrive on time.

3.  This puts the child in the position of possible resentment, of both school AND parent.

4.  This may cause the child to feel they must voice their frustration to their parent (which they shouldn't have to do). 


In my opinion, the parents are the problem, not the child, and they should perhaps pay a late fee which alleviates all of the stresses put upon the child.  The families pay a fee if a student is retrieved late from Extended Care (after school program), so it's not an unheard-of concept.


I'd like to address this with the principal (she is thankfully very open to discussions) , but thought I'd ask you all what your opinions are.  The school is FANTASTIC, but here, I just don't agree with their policy.


It doesn't affect my daughters (we're never late), so maybe I should just keep my nose out of it - but I can't help wondering what it's doing to the poor kids for whom it DOES affect.  


Thanks for your input! 

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If the child is late once - a note home. Late twice, a note home saying you need to apologize to your child, late thrice, a spanking for the parent in from to the child.

We should lead by example and since many people believe in corporal punishment for kids, why not for adults ??

And I'd love to be the paddle-wielder
Hah! First. You have no idea how rare that is (but you likely won't get much for it at a Sotheby's auction :-)
I find it hard to swallow that a school would punish a child for reresponsible parents. That is just wrong on many levels. Those parents need a visit from the truancy officer and maybe a little corporal punishment of their own.
Let the parents make it up by volunteering to read to kids who do not read well. Come in on Saturday, their day off, to help with the soccer field or something. If parents had to do this one Saturday, I would bet it would slow down or stop!
I'd like to know what the parents of the "habitually tardy" think.
Do they even care that their kid has detention all the time?
"a spanking for the parent in from to the child. "

"a spanking for the parent in front of the child."

Got too excited about getting to paddle some parents :-)
It's just wrong...however, by eighth grade I was fully expected to have my stuff in order and get to school on time...in those days it was safe to walk or ride a bike to school...things have changed, I know...many more children are driven to school these days...but...things need to be laid out the night before so there are no last minute missing shoes or papers...of course, I'm all for school buses...this gives a child autonomy...xox
I think your sense of fairness and where the blame should lie are spot-on. You are a parent whose children could be affected (however unlikely that may be!) and so you wouldn't be speaking "out of school" to say something to the principal. She may not change the policy but at least your voice would be heard.
Too many detentions and it affects their grade? My, how things have changed. When I was in school, after 5 tardies (or no-shows), you got detention. 5 detentions and you got a suspension from school. After 3 suspensions you were expelled from that school for the rest of the school year.

Also, in my day, if I brought in a note from my parents explaining why I was late, I would not receive an official tardy. Too many notes from my parents, and the school would call them directly to find out what was happening. The child should not have to bear the punishment for something that's not their responsibility.
Late fee makes sense.

A story from the past: My Italian grandmother came here as a child along with her two younger sisters. Their parents put them in a Catholic school because that seemed the thing to do, though the nuns did not speak Italian. My grandmother was late to school every morning because she, the oldest (7), had to help get her sister (5) ready and drop her off. My grandmother's hands were slapped by the nun every day. Eventually her parents got PO'd and put her in another school--Lutheran. And thus my family became the only Italian Lutherans in the world.

Or so the family story goes, anyway.
ummmm... I think it is WAY wrong to punish the child for something that is the parent's responsibility (especially if it effects their grades).

That said, I also don't get warm and cushies from the school making judgment calls regarding the afore mentioned parental responsibilities. If there is an instance where it is causing a problem, then the parents and the school need to talk about the issue, and try to resolve it (it IS possible that there is justification), not make some arbitrary rules to "punish" parents. Schools are in the education business, but often think that they are in the "controlling your life or else" business.
The New Number Two explains a system similar to the one in place in my kids' school. Parents (or kids who could fake their parents' voice or signature) can excuse kids' tardies and absences, but at some point a truant officer contacts the parents to figure out what's going on. (I know this because I once had a kid go in the front door of the high school every morning and right back out the back, while maintaining a 4.0 in his AP math and science classes. He got into a great college, but his father and I almost had to go to jail.)

On the other hand, if the detention time is actually being used to make up what they missed, maybe it makes sense to keep them in. Either way, their parents' actions shouldn't count against the grades they've actually earned.
Lack of parental involvement is a major percentage of student problems. If you didn't want to accept the responsibility (and additional work) around having children, why on earth did you HAVE THEM? (Not you, of course, OM - you know I'm talking to THOSE parents).

My kids were never late for school unless the bus was late. They were always out the door on time. Always. When issues arose, they were addressed by my wife and I as a team. When necessary, administrative personnel were annoyed and made to do their jobs.

Parents NEED to be involved in education. They have so much invested in the success of their kids.

Bring it up. If the principal is open to ideas, it might be a good one. But be prepared for a lot of flak from the offending parents. Because they will vociferously object to any change in their personal statud quo.

I fear a late fee for the parents will be taken out of the kid's allowance, if they have one. I always seems to trickle down! Perhaps it would be better for the parent to do the detention! One time and they'd never be late again.
Smithery ~ Thank you. As I said in response to your email, it IS laid out clearly in the parent/student handbook, given out every year. I appreciate the back-up and yes, she may not change the policy, but I would love to know the logic behind it. ~xoxoxo!
Bobby - You were first! Right on! And yes, you seem a bit anxious to paddle....I shall not examine nor pass judgement (I'm scared of both!). But I like the parental apology, actually.

Torman - I agree. It is simply not making a difference except to the child. Wrong.

scanner - AWESOME ideas. I hate the idea of hitting them in the wallet but time is also very valuable AND if they have to do something EXTRA, they may even feel more pride in the school (which they should already have!). Thanks a ton.

S_M - Sadly, these are the kids who are also in extended care, so I wonder if they take it as free extended care? Yeesh - I hope not. I really do love these families, by the way, but I can only think of the kids.

Robin - I completely agree, and my own girls get their own stuff together in the morning. I've even started asking them to make their own snack if they're ready early while I still make their lunches. But this is not the kids' fault, certainly not EVERY day!

TNNT - WOW - things HAVE changed! I will tell the principal about your old school. I'm glad to have your support. Thanks for your input!

Pilgrim - That is just a hilarious story! No hand-smacking near as I can tell around here. Rats. Thanks for the late fee agreement.

Safe_Bet - I don't think the school would be judgemental about the circumstances, but it affects the whole class when the child comes in when instruction has already begun. I'm actually quite proud of the way I've seen the school support families dealing with personal issues. But I agree - WAAY wrong to punish the child.
High Lonesome - Do they really even have truant officers anymore? That's interesting. Love the 4.0 story - amazing! I don't know what they do in detention, but I don't imagine they can individually make up what they missed since it may include verbal instruction.

Bill - I AGREE! I SO wish the parents could see what they're doing and be more involved. "When necessary, administrative personnel were annoyed and made to do their jobs." That cracked me up! I will definitely schedule a time to chat with the principal and luckily, I know she would keep it confidential, for which I am grateful, as I am friends with many of the families. It's not a tough line to draw, however - the kids come first. PERIOD.

rainee - Interesting. I never thought of that. Wouldn't THAT be awful!! Holy cow! OK, parental time is sounding like a good idea...
Midwest - WOW, that is a FANTASTIC idea!! I am quite sure that if the parents had to hike in (especially those in their PJs!!!) and sign in their child, it would change. AND if they are late for work because of it, that would also make an impact.

I DON'T take joy in thinking that the parents will suffer, I'm just looking for answers. Thanks MM!
I think you're right, my friend. I've wondered about that for awhile. But I don't have kids yet, so I don't get to say anything.
I guess I'm just old. We were expected to be to school on time (just like I'm expected to be to work on time). It's not the parents who are late, it's the child. If the parent is providing transportation then the parent needs to get his/her act together as well as the child's and make sure they're there on time. In this world "on time" is or should still be defined as 5-10 minutes early either for work or school--enough time to get where you're supposed to be and have your stuff put away and the stuff you need for work or school out and ready. Not a difficult concept. And if an athlete consistently misses practice because of tardy induced detention then they face consequences on their team because now they're also letting their teammates down.
Call me old fashioned but perhaps a reinforcement of these basic values is called for. Maybe there needs to be a discussion at parent/teacher conference and/or at PTA.
I ran into a similar situation when my son was in the first grade. First, if I failed to sign his homework at night, even though he repeatedly asked me, he was denied a star on the board. Second, if he played with his pencil while the teacher was talking, I had to pay ten cents to get it back. I HAD TO PAY it because seven year olds don't earn money.

So, this is what I did. I made a poster and brought it to the teacher. Told her she should put a red mark on it each time I failed to sign Michael's homework....and I gave her a box of stars and told her to make sure Michael got one each day.

Then I gave her a dollar and told her Michael could play with his pencil ten times before she took it away from him again.

Kids should not be punished for their parent's failings nor, in the case of the pencil, should a parent be punished for their child's.
Ash - I am glad I will have a voice with the principal. I've just seen it too many times to keep my mouth shut. Thanks for your thoughts (they matter here :)
Walter - I'm old-fashioned too, but I think this is a matter of respect. Respect for the child, for the school, and to an extent, you're right, the team. When I was living at home, but dad would let us know we would be leaving for wherever at, say, 2:00. At 1:45, he'd say, "Let's go!" I am a stickler for being on time and happily so. It makes a difference to all involved.

Donna - I quite agree - children need to be responsible and equally, the parents. I give my daughters the tools to be successful (their clothes are always in the same place for them to retrieve, their shoes have a certain shoe rack, their lunches are prepared before they leave), but if *I'M* the one running behind, it's not their fault. But I was surprised to hear that a first-grader had their pencil taken away - it's expected behavior for that age (that makes a difference to me). Thanks for weighing in.

neilpaul - I am of course not inside each child's mind nor heart, but I do see them frantically running (dead-sprint!) down the walkways, standing in line in the school office and I've seen them timidly enter the classroom. I would think this bothers them. Can you clarify what you mean by being stigmatized and also what you mean by being "ratted on to parents." I want to grasp all sides so I can broach the subject with all possible options. Thanks.
I'm sort of with Robin here. I was responsible for getting myself to and from school. It's not that it was any safer (it wasn't -- we just didn't hear about it), it's just the way it was.

That said, it's just reprehensible of parents not to get the kid to school on time. Late fees sound like a good idea; for sure, the kid shouldn't be penalized.
Since it's a parochial school, maybe they should just ask for absolution instead of detention...or Absolute with detention. OM why can't they devise a punishment system that fits the crime.
Why does everyone have to drive their kid to school? No one did that when I was a kid. You walked or rode your bike to school, or you took the bus. Giving the kid detention for being late a few times made sense then because the kid had some personal responsibility for being on time.
Well in my area private schools do not provide buses to school, so that explains why the kids have to be driven to school. This is a private school that requires parents to pay tuition, so the idea of fining the parents does have possibilities. Isn't it interesting that the parents run successful businesses that I bet are never opened late (wouldn't want to lose any potential income). Even though it would also punish the kids, if the kids weren't allowed to participate in certain activities (LIKE SPORTS) if they had so many tardies, it just might catch the parents attention. Most parents want their kids to play on sports teams and consider it part of growing up. Perhaps your principal/headmaster would give you the leeway to announce at the beginning of your sports year a simple policy about attending practices. You know, if you miss so many, you won't be allowed, to dress out, practice, play. It truly is an issue of being fair to the others on the team- even if the ones who always make it to practice are less talented. School is not only academics-especially a parochial school. It is about values. Values like respect. Respect for other people and their time is essential for a young person to grow up to be well-rounded, liked and successful in life and in work. Good luck. Hope you can find something that works and helps your late-comers get there on time.
Boanerges - The children to whom I'm referring specifically are in fourth grade. Also, many of our families are not close to the school, as it is a private school (not just neighborhood kids). Also, because it's private there is no bussing. And I appreciate your thoughts on the fees. There just has to be a way...

OE - Smiling over here! And yeah - why can't they?? :-)

neilpaul - Sorry I missed the satire - my bad! I see your point about the embarrassment being diminished if it's a continuous situation. That could be the case. As far as the kids being "ratted out" - that's rather impossible since it's the parents who are the ones driving the kids to school late. And these parents are well aware of what they are doing, believe me. Your line of work...I believe you're a lawyer? Criminal law? Sorry I don't know offhand and I will dash to your page after I comment...

Ablonde - Being a private school, these aren't kids who just walk a few blocks to the local school; most come from further than that. For example, we are about 6 miles from the school - certainly not within walking or biking distance for my 8- and 9-year-olds.

Kyle - It is a private school, so no bussing; the parents MUST pick up and drop off their child. As I said in the post, sometimes it may be the child, but EVERY DAY? And I happen to know it's not the kids' fault as far as the families of which I'm speaking.

amzg - Welcome! I agree that parents would not open their businesses late - great point. As far as the team goes, these girls are in fourth grade (there are PLENTY of younger ones who are late too, but detentions don't start until 4th grade, same year as sports) and I personally would HATE to punish them even further. All of the point I expressed above, plus detention, plus missing practice (which they love), plus not getting to play, etc., etc. It would break my heart, even though I thoroughly believe in the concept of "team." And this is what has led me to think about talking to the principal...something has to be done at the root of the problem. I'm so pleased you stopped in to offer your thoughts.
you are right
not the kid's fault
this is nuts
Between our PC culture and our lame legal system, it is a wonder that we still have schools.
Kathy - Thanks. I thought so.

Thoth - It IS a wonder...
We had a chronic problem getting our kids to school on time. The Elem school complained and complained. We drive our kids to school because it is too far and not safe to walk. The elem school complained for years. We got to middle school and they gave kids detentions on Saturdays, thus requiring the parents to get out of bed on Saturday morning and drive kid to school. It was VERY effective in cutting our kids' tardies. We have a lot better things to do on weekends than chauffeur our kids to school and back.

However, affecting your grade is a really bad idea. A grade should be a reflection of the student's academic achievement. Our school has two grades, one for academic achievement and the other for "Habits of the mind" which include coming to class on time and prepared, doing homework, contributing to discussions, not being disruptive, etc.

With the system you describe, how can you tell the difference between a C student and a chronically late A student? On paper they're the same.
As a youngster I was one of those kids that got dropped off late sometimes, so I empathize with their plight. If I got a drop in grade after three times I would still be stuck in High School. In any event I agree that the parents seem to be causing the problem and should be punished. Adults usually respond very quickly if you hit their pocketbooks.
malusinka - Welcome! I can see how absorbing a Saturday would get things in perspective mighty quickly. That's an interesting point. Btw, I love the "habits of the mind" - great concept! Thanks for offering your perspective; it's truly appreciated.

wanderer - Luckily, it's more than three times, but still, that it occurs at all is a shame. I keep coming back to the pocketbook solution too and it will definitely be something I'll mention. Nice seeing you here.
You mean there are other Italian Lutherans : ) Count me as one, ha ha ha.

On another note - we swap rides back and forth to school with another family; our daughters ride back and forth to school together. I WISH that the world were safe enough that we didn't have to worry about their safety - I grew up walking/riding my bike to school, and it was a least a three mile trip. My parents thought nothing of letting me go that far on my own when I was in elementary school .

That being said, I have volunteered at my daughter's middle school and found that no such thing as a truant officer, or even a social worker to intervene when parents don't ensure their kids are in school. I was a math tutor, and many of my students were failing because they were never in class or they were so late that they missed their first class or two each morning. One of my students slept on a bare mattress and had only one outfit. She was always hungry...and she was a cutter. I talked to guidance counselors, teachers, etc...no one did a thing.
I like the way you think. Fantastic idea.
Well, just by seeing a kid getting dropped off late, it's impossible to tell whose fault it is.

Neither of my kids are "morning people". But, one of them drags herself out of bed, dresses quickly and gets out the door for the school bus. Getting the other one out the door on time is a herculean task because she moves like a snail.

But regardless of whose fault it is, the parents are the ones ultimately responsible - so your idea of charging them MONEY is excellent in a private school environment.

In theory, a private school could also threaten expulsion, but I doubt they'd go that far since ultimately they aren't going to give up the revenue associated with that kid.
Setting aside all the particulars, I wanted to add a detail that many people don't realize: being chronically late does not harm most children and does not disrupt most teachers' routines. As a substitute teacher I see some universal practices in classrooms, and one of them is allowing for a graduated entrance for kids by starting with independent "morning work" or "bell work." Most lessons or morning meetings don't start until a good half hour after the arrival of most children. That half hour is usually more than enough time to do the allotted work, and the remainder of the time is generally spent on silent reading. Sure, if you have a kid who has trouble getting his/her morning work done (rare) or if you have a kid who has social anxiety (humiliation about being late), then these are the exceptions to the rule. But for the most part it's not earth shattering if kids are late, even chronically.

I think the emphasis on punishment--whether for parents or children--is misguided. It seems like families who can't make it on time should be consulted and arrangements made to accommodate. I agree with whomever reminded us that schools are not obedience factories for families but rather places of learning.

All that having been said, there are many people who are late for reasons relating to executive control functioning (adhd/time-management difficulties), and if a school agreed to move the arrival time to ten minutes later, then they might likely simply come late for that deadline. As Malusinka mentioned, sometimes a consequence makes a difference in terms of motivation. But I agree that in that case the consequence needs to be directed at the parents, not the child. At least in the elementary grades.
I agree. It's hard enough taking responsibility for one's own behavior. Taking responsibility for someone else's is too much.