According to http://www.cdc.gov the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that middle and high schools should aim to start no earlier than 8:30 AM to enable students to get adequate sleep. Teens need at least 8 hours of sleep per night. Younger students need at least 9 hours. Yet, the schedule in my kiddo’s district begins at 7:25 AM. It does not seem to be much until you consider it takes 30 minutes to get to school so she has to be ready by 7am which means she needs to be up by 6am. The school day ends at 2:18. Why?
Biological sleep patterns shift as children grow. If you ready any study it will tell you that it is very natural for teenagers to have trouble sleeping before 11pm. At the same time, teens need 8-10 hours of sleep to function best. More than 40 percent of public high schools start class before 8am. Is it any wonder that so many teens are falling asleep at their desks?
I think some people feel that if we don’t force teenagers to act like adults we are coddling them. After all, they will have to operate on adult schedules soon. I’m pretty sure they will adjust. Should we not give them the healthiest option while they are growing? I’m sure the school system has to consider transportation costs. Some systems share buses for each level so that can be problematic. Let’s not forget the almighty religion of athletics. Later start times may cause some conflicts. I remember in the rural mountain town that I grew up in, families depended on the old siblings to be home when the younger ones got off the bus.
To me, none of the above reasons are compelling. When so much science tells us that teenagers are healthier with more sleep that should take precedence. It seems we could work around all the other “stuff”. I am no expert, just someone who has seen the effects of this kind of scheduling on myself when I was a teen and now on my own children. I hope that schools (especially in the South) will change for the betterment of their very important teen population.