A national sleep foundation poll found that 59% of 6th through 8th graders, as well as 87% of high schoolers, are getting less than the recommended amount of sleep on school nights. This often affects how attentive kids are when they get to school and can have a negative impact on the rest of their day. When students are tired they often don’t take in the information they would otherwise pick up with an adequate amount of sleep. Starting classes at middle school and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m. would help teens arrive alert, healthy and ready to learn, U.S. sleep medicine specialists say (Lehman, 2017). Schools should start later to ensure the success of its students.
Some might argue students shouldn’t start school later because it could make classes shorter. While this could be true, school ending time can be pushed back to accommodate an earlier start time. This will allow teachers to have more preparation time as well as keep classes the same length of time. Another argument thought to be a drawback of starting school later is that students wouldn’t have time for themselves or sports after school. After school activities such as sports can be shortened or have a later practice time to accommodate the change. ‘Practice times are rescheduled, and in some cases, lights are installed so practice can run a little later. Match times are changed so that students do not have to leave class early. Many districts have even seen increased participation in sports (Edina, MN) and improved performance by their teams (Wilton, CT; Nathan Hale, Seattle, WA). Research has shown that sleep deprivation has a severe negative impact on coordination and endurance, so it makes sense that better-rested student-athletes would perform better.” Furthermore, students who get more sleep perform better in sports and are less likely to be injured while playing. Ending school later would still leave kids with time to hang out with their friends, do homework, go to work and so on. Schools should start later to make sure their students are performing well not only in school but outside of it as well.
The first reason schools should start later is because it would allow students to get the recommended amount of sleep and perform better. According to the CDC, 9-10 hours of sleep is what is recommended for adolescents ages 1-18. On average kids hardly get 6-7 hours of sleep on a school night. This causes kids to not be fully awake and engaged in school or their classwork. Starting at an earlier time gives kids more time to learn, but does not ensure they are present mentally. Kids may be down and hour after school but they will be more energized and will perform better in their daily task.
Another reason that school should start later is that it would make it easier for parents and teens to drive to school. Being tired when driving is a major safety concern when it comes to teens and adults commuting to school in the morning. ‘The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls refers to this situation, and an extreme danger knows as drowsy driving.” An estimated 27% of all drowsy-driving-related car crashes involve 16-19-year-old drivers (AAA Foundation, 2018). Parents have jobs that they must attend to and increasing the amount of time they have to get their child to school greater could improve attendance in the student body. According to a CDC study in 2017 82% of parents would prefer that school started later in the morning. Weather conditions are also a factor to consider. Driving in bad weather conditions in the morning increase the chance of accidents by more than half. By starting school later we can decrease these chances and ensure the safety of students. The increase of daylight and time to get to school would increase student and parent morale and decrease early morning accidents.
Lastly, starting school later will increase test scores and overall student performance. Starting school 37 minutes later in the morning, compared with other schools, give students an average 17 additional minutes of sleep per weeknight, the study team reports in the Journal of School Health (Crist,2018). Kids who are more alert and energized in the morning report being able to focus better throughout the entirety of the school day, improving their performance.
In conclusion, school should start later because the change provides an overall positive effect on students and staff. Starting school at a later time helps kids stay healthy, perform better and increases attendance. Starting school just an hour later decreases stress, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse among young children and can drastically change the course of a child’s life (Sleepless in Fairfax, 2014). In the future, our kids will not only want to attend school but they will be alert and ready to learn.
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