Is School Really Too Early?
One thing that I didn’t know in all my years of going to school is that classes are not supposed to start before 8:30 AM, and yet schools do it anyways. An article from the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine sites the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM)saying there needs to be a call for letting teens sleep more. The AASM is not the only one who thinks this.
The CDC, which is Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is urging education policymakers to start middle and high school classes later in the morning. Having a later school start time could improveteenagers health, mood, focus, and improve academic performances. One thing that has been affected by having school days so early is student’s health. A lack of sleep can make the health of students bodies degrade.Out of any age groups,teens are the most stripped of sleep.
When teens do not have the full amount of sleep that they need, they lose energy and quickly lose interest in things like physical activities. This can make them very unhealthy and they lose even more energy than they started with. Another thing that is affected by this is their mental health. The early start to the school day affects students biological clocks which they need to keep in tact. A study conducted by Harvard and Oxfordrecommend that schools should adjust schedules to match the biological wake up times of each age group. Lastly, it’s unhealthy for students because most of them have little breakfast or no breakfast at all. I’m sure most of us have heard the saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, which is true. Students need a proper breakfast before school every day to give them energy and nutrients. With such early school start times, most students do not get the breakfast they need. Another thing affected by these early start times is not just students health, but their mood.
Students who don’t get enough sleep can lead to have worsening mental health problems such as depression which can lead to them having thoughts of suicide. This also might lead to unhealthy, risky behaviors such as alcohol use, smoking tobacco, marijuana use, use of prescription drugs, and unhealthy weight control strategies. In schools that have tried later start times, there were fewer incidents of these unhealthy and risky behaviors. One principal reported that he has seen less problems with students fighting in the lunch room and hallways. With students moods lifted they tend to be less angry and irritable. In an article from Phi Delta Kappan, it says that 92% of parents reported that it is easier to live with their teenagers when they are getting more sleep.
When students mood declines, they start to lose focus. One thing linked to weak focus from early classes is car crashes involving teenagers. An article from NBC news says that teenagers are not designed to be morning people. A study was done in Virginia thatshowed that there was 65.4 car crashes for every 1,000 teen drivers when they have school at 7:20 AM. The other school they looked at started at 8:40 AM where there was 46.
2 crashes per 1,000 teen drivers. As clearly seen, that number goes down drastically when there was a later school start time. Children’s safety is another thing that can be affected by not being able to focus. Kids are out walking to school or getting on the bus in the dark which can get very dangerous when people are sleepy or not focused behind the wheel. Lastly, everyone does better at school when they can focus.
If people are sleepy, they can’t focus on what they are doing and their work gets sloppy or poor. Finally, when students have more time to sleep, their academic performance improves. First of all, when teenagers get the sleep they need,they will want to come to school more. This causes a decrease in students absences and tardies.In a school that participated in later start times, there was a 66% tardiness drop.
Another thing that improves are students grades and test scores. When school starts later it has been shown that students core classes significantly improved the grade point average. The last thing to improve is high school graduation rates. A study found that graduation rates raised from 81% to 97%. Likewise, when students do better in school they are more likely to succeed in life and get a good job. Overall, when schools start classes later in the morning it strengthens many things for our youth including improved health, mood, focus, and academic performances.
Throughout this I learned that scientists really think that schools are not supposed to start before 8:30 AM, but yet they do it anyways. A change needs to happen with education policymakers to start school later that would help so many students. Having a later school start time could potentially save lives and would improve so many things about today’s students.