Early one morning last week as I pulled the car up to my son's school, he announced that he wasn't wearing any shoes. He had managed to remember his lunch and backpack, but his new tennis shoes were in the garage where he had "forgotten" them. I was pretty annoyed (understatement) at having to drive in traffic- all the way home and then back to school and then home again, but what really upset me was that my son was going to be late to school.

As a former elementary school teacher, late students were the bane of my teaching existence. It is annoying to teachers and detrimental to students.

Teachers are strapped, strapped, strapped for time, so the smart ones hit the day running. First thing in the door, it’s announcements about school events, tests, assignments, projects, field trips; collecting homework; taking roll; sending in the lunch count; doing quick test preparation and review. Yes, all of this- and more- happens in the first few minutes of the school day. Reading, writing and 'rithmetic. Boom, boom, boom.

Then, the late kid trickles in.

The entire class stops what they are doing to watch him get settled. Everyone stares while he opens his backpack, drops his binder, puts his coat away, hands the teacher his permission slip, walks over to the homework basket, asks about lunch. All teaching- and learning- has stopped. Can you imagine how annoying this is when it happens two or three times a day?

But, what's worse is that late students miss important information and instruction, and most teachers simply do not have the time to go back and teach them what was missed.

You might not think being a few minutes late is a big deal, but consider this: if your child is 10 minutes late three times each week, he will miss a half hour of instruction this week, two hours this month, 20 hours (4 full school days!) this school year.

I know how those minutes add up, so now my son has an extra pair of shoes in the car. If that doesn't work, we'll have him sleep -- fully dressed-- in the car. I'll come down with a breakfast bar and a juice box and take him to school.

At least he won't be late.