School Start Time

By , Boulder, CO
The alarm clock rings. The clock says 6:00 am. You pull yourself out of bed and start to get ready for school. You are tired because you stayed up late studying for a test. You didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast and you are really hungry. As the above example shows, the school start time can affect students’ grades and whether they’re on time. “‘The research is so compelling,’ said Gary Kahn, a family practice and preventative medicine doctor who also has twin boys at Fairview and is on a committee studying the issue. ‘Later school start times have a much bigger benefit than I had thought’"(Bounds). School should start later in the morning.

One reason school should start later is that kids wake up too early and don’t get enough sleep, which can lead to problems. A teenager needs 83/4-91/4 hours of sleep. At the end of high school teens average less than 7 (Backgrounder: Later School Start Times). “Although society often views sleep as a luxury that ambitious or active people cannot afford, research shows that getting enough sleep is a biological necessity, as important to good health as eating well or exercising”(“Backgrounder: Later School Start Time”). Researchers say teens are programmed “Late-to-Bed” and “Late-to-Rise.” When an adolescent body wakes up early it says it is still the middle of the night and the brain is still in sleep mode until 8 am. A teen also can’t easily fall asleep until 11pm. High school students are so tired that few stay awake in their first class if it is before 8 am. “The result is that the first class of the morning is often a waste, with as many as 28 percent of students falling asleep, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll”(Kalish). Lack of sleep can lead to other problems. If a student doesn’t get enough sleep one or two nights in a row it affects their ability to be alert, learn, pay attention, solve problems, cope with stress, retain information, and feel rested and alert. “Young people who do not get enough sleep night after night carry a significant risk for fall asleep (falling asleep at the wheel and having) automobile crashes; emotional and behavioral problems such as irritability, depression, poor impulse control and violence; health complaints; tobacco and alcohol use; impaired cognitive function and decision-making; and lower overall performance in everything from academics to athletics” (“Backgrounder: Later School Start Times”). Some students are so tired they don’t show up, leading dropout and failure rates to go up.

Also, when school starts later, attendance and grades improve. “In 2002, high schools in Jessamine County in Kentucky pushed back the first bell to 8:40 a.m., from 7:30 a.m. Attendance immediately went up, as did scores on standardized tests, which have continued to rise each year” (Kalish). School District Supervisor, Lu Young, says the change has had a big impact at the high schools. “We found that our students were more on time and in better attendance first period than they had been in the past,” she says(Trudeau). Districts in Virginia, Connecticut, Minneapolis, Edina, and Minnesota had similar success. Their student’s grades rose, and lateness, behavioral problems and dropout rates decreased. “Teachers reported that students were more alert and ready for learning” (Trudeau).

Lastly, if school starts later, more students get to eat breakfast. When students wake up they’re hungry. The last time they ate was 8-16 hours ago, so they need breakfast (which means “break the fast”.) If they eat breakfast they won’t get hungry at school. Breakfast is an energy boost. Cereals have minerals and vitamins, plus cereal is eaten with milk. Milk has calcium which makes bones stronger. Juice has Vitamin C and Vitamin C absorbs iron. Iron helps blood cell reproduction, growth, immune health and energy production. Having eggs or toast with tomatoes, mushrooms or baked beans has vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Breakfast helps you perform better in school, be less stressed, calmer, have a better mood, concentration, problem solving, and memory. “It has been observed that children who do not have their breakfast before going to school have problems, like, headache, sleepiness, stomach pain, muscle fatigue, indecisiveness, anger, anxiety, irritability, unhappiness, nervousness, lethargy, hostility, and more” (Kartha). Breakfast is 25% of nutrition for that day. If you miss breakfast you miss nutrients, which is bad for your health. Breakfast is called the most important meal of the day.

It is obvious that starting school later is the best option. Kids get more sleep, attendance and grades are better, and they get to eat breakfast. Many schools are thinking about changing to a later start time, including Fairview and Boulder high schools and according to the National Sleep Foundation 80 school districts across the county already start later. “At Fairview, the school is asking parents and students to respond to a survey to gauge community interest in moving back the start time, possibly to 8:20 a.m. instead of 7:35 am” (Bounds). “Boulder High also is considering different schedules for next year, with students starting at 8 am” (Bounds). Students would be happier, healthier, and do better if school started at a later time.





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Pritesh said...
Feb. 2, 2016 at 12:16 pm
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Apr. 25, 2011 at 9:36 pm
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