Why School Should Start Later
School days are not supposed to start before 8.30 a.m. This fact is supported by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine that links early school days to car accidents along the roads, depression among the young ones and increase in poor performances academically. Children struggle through the challenge of waking up very early in the morning so that they can be in class right on time. Research indicates that teens should get at least eight hours of night sleep for their good health. Various stakeholders such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control have the strong recommendation on why schools should start later. However, many districts have not received the recommendations well since the changes seem to be expensive and can cause serious disruption of normal schedules.
Schools are likely to report increased presence of children in class if the time of start is pushed beyond 8.30 in the morning. The best example is in Bonneville County, Idaho which has reported a drop of about 15% children absence in class after the institution of the changes. Other states such as California have state funding tied to class attendance. It, therefore, implies that more dollars will be sent to schools due to increased attendance. Cumulatively, an increase in class attendance will result in increased funding to schools hence more children accessing education at the basic level.
Another factor of importance is the grade performance of children which is directly affected by the hours of sleep. Various researchers have shown that children grades improve with an increase in hours of sleep which implies later time of starting school schedule. According to Finley Edwards who is an economist at Colby College, the math test and scores of reading increased by about 3 percentile points if the start time of school is delayed by one hour. Delaying the school’s starting time is, therefore, more efficient and easy way of improving performance when compared to other strategies.
Opponents of the proposal for delayed starting time believe that later starting time will cause children to miss classes at the day end attending to events of sports. The argument may be true but it fails to capture the fact that more sleep will result in decreased injuries to children as they play since their minds are fresh. Many of the injured children who participate in athletic activities miss classes and at the same time more than one week of playing. The injuries still add to the amount of money spent by schools and government in offering treatment. Increased hours of sleep happens to be an easy way of ensuring students are in class and on the field without missing any of them.
Besides, teens who do not get enough sleep have another problem of getting sleepy when driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration refers to such situation as an extreme danger that involves drowsy driving. Teens and young adults are mostly involved in these type of accidents which increases the safety concerns and premiums for insurance. According to the study by InsuranceQuotes.com in 2013, the rates in California increased to about 62% after just one claim for compensation. However, late start times for schools have indicated an improvement in the situation of safety on the roads.
Another important fact to face is that most teens who get little sleep are at risk of drug and abuse of alcohol, depression and even suicide cases. According to the report “Sleepless in Fairfax,” the difference of about one more hour to sleep decreases hopelessness, ideas of suicide and substance abuse among children. It is therefore a high time all states should adopt the changes for the benefit of children and young adults.
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