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Ava Shively: School should start later to boost learning

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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.

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

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