Early School Start Times

Essay by MellowMangooooo October 2009

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Who enjoys rising earlier than the sun only to barely make it to their first period class at 7 in the morning? 7:30 a.m. is not a practical time for anyone to be starting classes especially high school students. It's simply too early for teenage minds to function at optimum efficiency. Our high schools should start at least an hour later than that. With the extra hour, our attendance would improve, as well as our grades and attitudes. All the evidence points in the favor of latter starting time. So why do we continue to torture students and force them to be in class at such an early time?Two Minneapolis-area school districts decided to alter secondary school start times to 8:30 a.m. or later based on emerging medical research showing adolescents have a natural sleep pattern that leads to a latter bed time and waking up later as well. Medical researchers found that this cycle is a part of the development of the endocrine system.

From the onset of puberty until late teen years, the chemical found in the brain, melatonin, which is responsible for sleepiness, is secreted from approximately 11 p.m. until approximately 8 a.m., nine hours later. This secretion is rather fixed. In other words, typical teenagers are not able to fall asleep much before 11 p.m. and their brains will remain in sleep mode until about 8 a.m., regardless of what time they go to bed. This will greatly interfere with performance and grades in the 7:30 a.m. class.

Secondly some will not even attempt to make it to class but instead catch up on the much needed shut eye. High school students are very busy due to sports, jobs, social lives, hobbies and school work. Lets be practical, no high school student is going to be able to make it to their appointed 9 o'clock bedtime. When I was a high school student there was always a double digit number under the “absence” column next to my first period class. I guarantee that attendance will improve a great deal if starting times are delayed by an hour which will benefit the students and the teachers. Everyone would feel a lot more refreshed and happier.

Lastly the students attitude towards class will most definitely improve. Most people are not always the happiest campers when they are forced to wake up against their will with an incomplete nights sleep. This may stifle a healthy and civil student to student and student to teacher communication. The last thing we want is a classroom packed with a bunch of grouchy teenagers. It is crucial to maintain a good communication and relationship between students and teachers because it will result in what one might learn and retain during class. A lot of the time class sessions are interrupted because of someone with an attitude problem or someone has formed a puddle of drool on their desk.

All in all my personal experience and all the research points too a latter starting time for high school students. From juggling school work, jobs, sports and various other social activities it is impractical, maybe even impossible for students to be in bed in time to wake up for class the next morning. This directly effects their performance, attitude and attendance for their classes. By driving students out of bed by 6 a.m or earlier we are obstructing their education.

Work CitedPaul D. “High Schools, Wake Up!” USA Today, 23 Jan. 2006. p. 9A