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I am writing about why schools should start later. There are many benefits including, children work better when they’ve had more sleep, it has proven to raise standardized test scores, and sleep is critical during teenage years.

People learn better when they’re awake. In more than 40 states, about 70 percent of schools start at 8:50 a.m. or earlier. While, yes, there are some things that schools can’t help — such as parents making sure that their kids get enough sleep — it’s still quite obvious that schools play a large role in children’s daily schedules.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement evaluated information from more than 9,000 students at various high schools in Minnesota, Wyoming and Colorado. They found that having schools start later in the day produces an increase in attendance, grades and test scores. Conversely, there is a decrease in tardiness, substance abuse and symptoms of depression.

Scientists from the Smithsonian magazine suggest that school shouldn’t start until 10 a.m. While prepping a large group of test subjects, British scientists proclaimed that if school started at 10 a.m. students would be able to concentrate better and grades would improve. Studies have proposed that other scientists are ignoring teen sleep schedules and that adolescents in particular have a late-running biological rhythm.

Sleep is critical in teenage years. This is because the body is in the process of development. Schools have the important task of strengthening memorization, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, which are core elements of learning.

If kids are too tired in school, they won’t be able to remember or process things as well. Being sleep-deprived lowers your immune system’s capabilities, meanwhile diminishing mood and motivation.

Schools should start later because sleep is critical in the teenage years, scientists have proven that schools shouldn’t start until 10 a.m., and people learn better when they are more awake. Children would be more focused, grades would improve and it would help teenagers biologically. Even though it may be hard to shift school hours later, I believe that it is a very important change to make.

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Ava Shively is an 8th-grade student at Coulee Montessori.

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(12) comments

Clydefromona

I'll bet if the Mall opened at 8 she would be able to be there by 7:45.
When my children were school age, my wife would nag and nag for them to wake up even though both had their own rooms and alarm clocks. From time to time would be away for a few days at a time. Dad's morning rules were: #1 you pack your own lunch the night before, dad is not a deli worker. #2 set your alarm for when you think you need to get up because the car is backing out of the garage at 7:20 am. If you are not in the car I will take the other children in our car pool to school then I will return to pick you up to take you to school. I will escort you into the school to your first class and stand inside the classroom door while you stand in front of the class and apologize for interrupting the class by being selfish in not fulfilling the obligation to be on schedule. Funny, Dad never had to request the children rise from slumber nor make a second trip to school and both children had a packed lunch with them. When Mom returned the seems the children could not wake up with out nagging.

AirForce Retired

End all the nonsense. Use the European model for schools. No sports, No music, no extra curricular activities. If the kids want to play sports, join a local youth team. Same for music and other activities. Have schools on a staggered schedule so the schools are used all year round. So much money is thrown away because of lack of common sense and the touchy feely environment that is our school system.

HolmenPackerFan

"No sports, No music, no extra curricular activities. If the kids want to play sports, join a local youth team."

You sound angry...

'Ending all the nonsense' still doesn't solve the problem of time after school, whether school-sponsored or not. As I and another person have commented, later start times mean later nights for kids who choose to participate in these activities. They still have to practice, take lessons, eat dinner, have time for games AND complete their homework assignments. This is the voice of experience having had children involved in non-school youth sports, who have part-time jobs and play music outside of school.

Despite the hectic schedules, late nights, etc. we parents and our children share in the belief these activities are rewarding, worthwhile and not at all nonsense. It's work and play combined. The social interactions for children (and parents) who participate in these activities is beneficial manifesting in lasting friendships and building character. The challenges teach our children to be responsible and manage their time. Don't worry, AirForce. It's my money being thrown away on it, not yours. Feel better?

HUH

If you are a parent of a child that is involved in any sport or activity, you would know that kids toda are busy, its very competitive. Their practice is usually everyday after school, sometimes games don't start until later, some kids have jobs and then there's homework...... We sometimes don't even eat supper until 9:30 at night.

Clarification

That's nuts.

HolmenPackerFan

Ava: You make excellent points. Here are a few practical reasons why school start times should not be later.

1) Typically, buses pick up high school students first and take them to school. Then they repeat their routes and pick up younger kids and take them to school separately. Some might say carting them all at the same time would be OK while others would disagree and say the youngest students should be kept away from the influences of the older kids. (Debatable) So, a delay would mean the youngest of the crumb-crunchers will get home later as well. A 4-4:30 dropoff for a kindergarten student becomes 5-5:30. Combining all students at one time would require purchasing more buses.

2) Considering again the younger students, the bus routes are timed so that working parents can see their kids off before leaving for work and/or to ensure someone will be home when the bus drops them off. Not always but this is a consideration in timing.

3) At the end of the day, many high school students participate in sports and extra-curricular activities. If the start of the school day is delayed, after school activities must also be delayed. Soccer, track, lacrosse, baseball would require lighted fields for after school games because games and meets cannot be completed before it gets dark. Those student athletes and fans will end up getting home later and staying up later to complete assignments, etc.

kim9602

Hi, Ava - I completely agree with you, and feel you've shed light on a subject that does need to be addressed. I've also read studies about this, and as the parent of two daughters, this truly IS a problem - and I'm a mom who has ensured my girls are off electronics and in bed early enough to get 9-11 hours of sleep, depending on their age. As both entered adolescence, there was a HUGE difference in their ability to get up in the morning, despite having had enough sleep. I agree that administrators need to take these realities seriously, as do parents, and make the physiological needs of students a priority over adults' "convenience." This is also true of the proven benefits of year-round school, but that's another conversation. :)

Don't let any grumpy comments posted here deter or discourage you; some people thrive on being contrarians, and the rest of us know that. You presented an important topic in a well-researched and well-written manner, and as a concerned parent, I thank you.

Gran2

Rather than starting school later, get to bed earlier, you will have to get used to it sometime if you get a day job, some of which start much earlier than 8am

Machiavelli

[sleeping][sleeping][sleeping]Flip burgers 'til midnight at McDonald's. Start school at noon. End school at two p.m. Flip more burgers at three. Sounds like a plan![yawn][yawn][yawn]

"We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the class room
Teachers leave those kids alone
(yells) Hey, teachers! Leave those kids alone!"

www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAe_w9a_IN8

easy

Nice letter, Ava, good arguments and well presented. You should offer us your perspective more often.

I was interested in your remarks about the studies on the subject, as it does seem quite early for kids.

In the adult working world, though, many people prefer to go to work earlier, as you get done earlier too. And many just must go earlier, that's what they have.

So might it be for adult convenience instead of benefits to kids? Ask the administrators.

Clarification

There is this midwest thing about opening offices early, as in 8AM that some say comes from a farming background, etc. Never much cared for it. OTOH many students are sleep deprived from staying up late online. Parents: control your kids..you are in charge, not them.

HolmenPackerFan

You can give a horse a blanket but you cannot make him sleep.

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