What do you think of the premise of changing school hours to match teenagers' sleep habits?
Part of the goal for teenagers is to teach them to adapt to the world, rather then for them to expect the world will adapt to them. However, there are people who seem genetically predisposed to be active at night and to sleep during the day and this behavior is totally reflected in the rest of nature in that many animals are adapted to night activity only.
People who are night people learn to adapt to education's hours and go on to work night hours. In many cases, adult education furnish quality education after normal school hours, which teenagers can enter.
Teenagers don't really have good sleep habits. Sleeping in the daytime is a result of not going to bed. Losing a lot of sleep is the penalty for that behavior.
I think its stupid and wasteful. In our county, such a change would actually require changing the bussing schedules for all grades and the purchase of a whole new fleet of buses!!
The answer isn't changing the schedule of the whole damn world to accommodate teen sleeping habits. The answer is to change your teen's schedules so THEY get the sleep they need at the right time so they can wake up in the morning!! This means they come home from school, get their homework done and their goofing off and extra-curricular stuff out of the way, and then they go to bed in time to get the eight plus hours of sleep they need so they can wake up and be functional. This really doesn't have to be so hard. It's the quantity and quality of sleep that matters, not the time it happens.
I swear, this pisses me off!! People are all ‘Oh! But with band, and away football games, my kid is up until 11pm!' ... well, sounds to me that the problem isn't waking up for school, the problem is allowing your kid to participate in activities that keep them up all night all week long!! Academics should come first, not extra-curricular activities.
Also, my kids actually LIKE going in early (beats rush hour traffic - school bus ride is barely 10 minutes) and the LIKE getting out of school at 2:30pm (again, beating the traffic) and having the whole afternoon off. They don't want to shift that two hours later.
I think its a fantastic idea. There are so many good reasons to do it - not the least of which is improved academic outcomes, less tardiness, less absences, and better health and mental health for teens - and the ones I've heard against I don't think are nearly as compelling. There are so many different organizations and studies that endorse later start times and the science behind them that it seems crazy to me that all educational systems that currently operate on the earlier, less healthy schedule for teens aren't shifting to later times. Here's a sampling:
The first study on this was conducted in Minnesota and Wyoming in the mid 1990's and every subsequent study appears to reinforce what was learned then:
- Kids were better engaged in class (particularly true in 1st period)
- Overall number of hallway and lunchroom disciplinary infractions went down
- Students reported reduced feelings of depression and increased feelings of efficacy and efficiency in school
- Absences and tardiness (a 66% reduction in one district!) were significantly reduced
- GPA's increased, particularly in 1st period classes
- Cigarette, alcohol and marijuana use declined between 8 and 14%
- Reduction in teen car crash deaths (Between 6% and 70% with an average reduction of 13%!)
Teenagers are biologically programmed to need more sleep and to have a more delayed sleep cycle than children and adults. So keeping start times for middle and high school students early is not only wrong and stupid in my book, it's reckless.
I headed up the youth suicide prevention task force in our community for nearly 8 years. I did a LOT of work in schools and with parents and students. One of the most common refrains I heard from teens (and their parents), particularly those that were struggling emotionally and mentally (and, incidentally, often socially and academically) was how tired they were. There was too much to do, not enough time to do it, and given their schedules their sleep schedules almost always suffered. This is a staggering problem but arguably one that would be SO EASY to fix - and one that would have a positive impact on hundreds of thousands of young people.
So yeah, I think it's safe to say I'm a proponent. If you have a teenager (or a pre-teen) and your school district is still using an antiquated schedule that is harmful to your child, I highly recommend you taking this to your school board and pushing for a revision of start times. Our kids deserve better!!!
My daughter's school did this.
School started at 8:45am The good kids were there in their seats ready for class.
Other kids of a certain demographic would hang out at the taco shop next door until 9:30 or so and waltz into class. They did not care about consequences and neither did their parents. Once The school loses their bluff there are only two options, fail the kids (the school will lose their status) or expel them (hell to pay from angry parents and lost school funding plus bad publicity.)
What to do?
They changed the school start time to 9:30 Cut lunchtime in half and removed 3 minutes between classes. All to accommodate these kids who decided rules meant nothing.
Of course my kids suffered, long walks between buildings with less time to get there, they gathered tardies and detention before I raised hell.
They barely had time to get to the lunch room,stand in line to get lunch before the bell rang forcing them to throw the food away before getting a chance to eat.
The late kids...what happened to them? Did they get to class on time?
No. They hung out at the taco shop until 10:00 AM or went shopping (lifting at the walmart next door.
The next year all of the times went back to normal thankfully.
I still don't know what they are doing to combat the tardy gang...probably just ignoring it.
Well, I think it's a mixed bag. First, teens need sleep. Second, they're not very good at getting it.
In Berkeley, CA, where I live, the high school (there's only one) adjusts the start of school on Mondays (only Mondays) to an hour later to accommodate this idea that teens can't get there on time. My son, who attended there for four years, loved this idea.
During his high school years he had to be home by a certain time, and since he rowed crew, there wasn't much time for him to go to school, go to crew, do his homework and play. So the play usually extended to late hours on his computer etc. We didn't push this too much as long as he had the lights out by midnight.
Humans can't take in additional data/information/teaching/learning if they don't sleep. Sleep is like a dishwasher for your brain cells. If they don't get sleep, there is no mechanism for more info to be added, and what results is confusion and often mistakes. Sleep is essential. And teens need MORE, not less of sleep to maintain health and a clear mind than adults do. So that's why it's a mixed bag.
Yeah, I can see they don't want to sleep. But it's essential for their well being and success. One thing that helped with our son was the daily physical exertion. With daily sports, he was so physically exhausted, it was hard to fight sleep.
It's great, in theory. But parents have jobs they need to get to, and some teachers have young children they drop off at 7AM before they teach. You'd have to change everyone's schedule- not just the teenagers.