Benefits of Starting School Later
Waking up before 6 in general- for most people is dreadful, so imagine being up at 7:00 to sit in a classroom. Fighting to get out of bed early in the morning is a hassle for a lot of people. School starting times are way too early and should be changed to a later times because students are affected negatively by these start time. This would promote focus and improve student performance and behavior. By going to the UCPS board of education and presenting evidence and student representation, this problem can be resolved. Bringing this problem to the attention of local and even federal government, voting for local officials that are dedicated to schools and education, going to the board of education and the superintendent of over a school system, forming a group to help stand up the students.
Five days a week, children in grades k-12th wake up as early as five o’clock in the morning to go to school. Most children (especially teens) are not getting the proper amount of rest at night. “The AASM recommends that teenagers should sleep 8 to 10 hours a night” (Macmillan, Amanda). ‘Not getting enough sleep is common among high school students and is associated with several health risks” (the CDC). This backs that lack of sleep is a problem. The brain and body should be fully charged to function productively. When health is potentially compromised, one would think that someone would react and work to resolve the situation. School start times have been mentioned in sleep studies before from National Sleep Foundation and the CDC, but there has not been a lot of change. Local school start times in union county are all before 8:30 am. Schools in Seattle, WA recently changed school start times from 7:50 am to 8:45 am. A before and after study was done by researchers at the University of Washington, “the study also found an improvement in grades and a reduction in tardiness and absences”. This is why making the schools start times later is a good idea. Seattle moved their start times forward an hour later and saw improvements, so starting school no earlier than 9:30am will have an even greater effect.
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Sleep is a way for the body to recover from the day that it had. When that time is diminished how does the body react? 8 to 10 hours of sleep is nowhere near the amount of sleep teens are actually getting. The CDC reports that 69% of high schoolers are really getting less than the 8 hour minimum. The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found The quality of life is affected by lack of sleep. As stated earlier, not getting enough sleep is associated with several health risks including: use of drugs, alcohol, and obesity, which goes for everyone, so students are being negatively affected and there needs to be a change. Sleep is needed for a person to function properly physically, mentally and even emotionally. If students are sleeping less than the suggested minimum, then they are open to these risks, which is a problem. As the studies show, these early start times are in fact affecting health, therefore a change in school starting times needs to occur. Children would benefit from this change, by not feeling sluggish and depleted. Feeling like the body is dragging a ton and barely lifting its feet off the ground is not a “good morning”. Staying healthy is important and people need time to do it.
‘Due to the biology of human development, the sleep mechanism in teens does not allow the brain to naturally awaken before about 8 a.m. This often gets into conflict with school schedules in many communities’ (Wahlstrom, Kyla). The brain is not fully awake and this cause issues for students. The National Sleep Foundation found the brain has to work much harder to retain information. Remembering the information is difficult when you are half awake, which makes another valid reason as to why school should start later. Switching to later starting times would give more time for the brain to wake up and the student to be alert. Teachers scream, write kids up and carry on about students falling asleep in their class even though they can’t help it. Even at 8 A.M. and past that, the body will still try and shut down to restore the lost energy. This is what is causing sleeping in class, not always because the teacher is boring. This is a reason for a decrease in academic performance. Sleeping in class would become less common if times were later also. The extra time would give students an opportunity to sleep longer and wake up fresh.
“Around half of teens who sleep four hours or less per night feel sad and hopeless” (Wahlstrom, Kyla). Lack of sleep can cause depression and anxiety in student or anyone really, even adults. A 2006 study from National Sleep Foundation did poll on 1,602 teen and found that 73% of them felt unhappy, sad, or depressed and were also getting inadequate sleep (see chart at the end). Clearly students do not get enough sleep and depression and sadness is affecting them. Children feeling depressed and down is not ok and something needs to be done. Students attitude toward school life shifts, and academic performance decreases because children stop caring about things. This is a huge reason to shift school start times. Later times could possibly help students de-stress and feel less hopeless. Another thing is driving to school in the morning is a problem because of driving drowsy. A study done by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, reports after a school district change their school start times, a 16.5% decrease in the local crash rates occurred. People are more alert when they have enough rest and clear heads. Every school should shift start times because even parents are affected by the early times, waking up early or trying to make it to work after dropping their kids off. Rushing to school is another cause for these accidents and if school started later, there would be a noticeable changes. There would less accidents because driving would not be so rushed due to the extra time there is to prepare and leave.
“Having high school students start class later may also have domino effects on everything” (Park, Alice) . For a fact a lot of kids are not getting the correct sleeping hours, and this is causing all of these problems. The issue affects grades in way, making it harder for kids to focus in school and teachers overloading kids with homework, taking away sleeping hours later on. It is about doing what is right for the children, thinking about the future generation. People are more prone to driving accidents with these early start times. Depression and attitudes are affected and it is unhealthy, what else needs to happen before a change occurs? There are so many problems and the solution is simple.
However, “go to bed earlier” is what some would say. “Some parents and teachers say that students need to operate on adult schedules” (Strauss, Valerie). Young adults will go out in to the world working and the day starts early as early as five a.m., and they should have a sense of reality. A lot of students schedules revolve around their parents and most parents have something going on and can not take their students to school when they are supposed to be at work. “Administrators say the school day needs to end early enough in the afternoon that sports teams can share fields and practice before it gets dark”, parents tell Sara Cheshire from CNN. This is true, sports teams have practice after school and that could conflict with the school schedule. School would let out later, which means getting home later and getting chores done later and all these issues should be considered.
“It’s one more example of how are schools need to be student centered’ (Davis, Jennifer). There is a lot of parents and teachers saying how it will affect them, so who is the priority? The students should be considered more because they are the future. There is a solution to the problem but the priorities are wrong. Making the necessary moves like carpools and public transportation would help changes the idea along. If parents do not agree with later start time they can send their child to private school, because it is not about how they parents feel, It is what is best for the student. Also athletes do not need all night to practice. School could start 9am or 10pm and end at 3pm or 3:30pm because, then practice could follow shortly after and does not need to last more than 2 to 3 hours. Not overwhelming kids with too many after activities would help a lot to. There has to be a change to help with the many problems are stressing students out. “For virtually all adolescents, the secretion of melatonin doesn’t begin until about 10:45 p.m. and continues until about 8 a.m., this means that most teenagers are unable to fall asleep until melatonin secretion begins, and it’s hard to wake up until the melatonin secretion stops” (Wahlstrom, Kyla). This backs that going to sleep earlier is not a simple or easy solution. There actually needs to be a change in the school system.
School start times are not at the best they could be and the community can come together and fix the problem for the sake of the children. school starting times negatively affect children across the country and something needs to be done about it. Students academics, mental, physical and physical health are affected by sleep deprivation due to school start times and going to bed earlier isn’t going to help. The government needs to be called out and forced to help by its people and all the evidence is there. Later school times are better for the students because they allow time to sleep and feel better and refreshed. Students and supporting parents and local governments and local organizations, like UCPS should get involved because it is that important.