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Later Start Times

Caroline Estey, Correspondent

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Those in favor of a change argue that elementary and high school start times aught to be reversed. Since younger kids often wake up earlier and are often up hours before they have to be, it would make sense for their school start time to be earlier. Conversely, high school students, many of whom struggle to wake up early, should attend their first class later in the morning. This would also benefit parents of younger children as they would be able to leave for work earlier, and there would still be extended day so they wouldn’t have to worry about coming home earlier.

It would also benefit high school students in many ways. Teenage brains are different than those of young children and adults. Their brains release hormones that cause them to feel tired two hours later than both children and grown adults. This means that they go to bed later simply because that is what their bodies are telling them to do. The teenage years are also some of the most important years in regards to growing and changing. All of the changes experienced by teenagers cause them to require more sleep. As these new needs present themselves, school start times cause them to get the least sleep of their lives. When they begin going to sleep later at night, they begin having to wake up earlier in the morning. This leads to many detrimental effects on both teenage minds and bodies. The Boston Globe states that schools that have moved their start times later have seen many positive results, including better test results, fewer class tardies/absences, and fewer early morning car crashes – all because their students are actually awake and have gotten an adequate amount of sleep.

 

School start times have long been a controversial topic. Many feel that the start time for our school is too early and should be changed, while others believe that it should stay as it has always been. This year, Nashoba has implemented Late Starts on designated Wednesdays. This choice indicates that the school administration believes, at least a little, that later start times can have positive effects on students. 

Opponents of later start times state that when the teens go out into the world and get a job, their job isn’t going to start later because they are simply too tired to start working. But this is not a fair rebuttal of the argument; by the time students are old enough to have a real job, they will have matured physically and their brains will be in the adult stage. At this point, their brain will release the sleep hormone earlier and they will have much less difficulty waking up early. Critics also assert that this proposed change will mess up sports and other after school activities, but this too may not be true. Moving activities and sports back one hour will not make them impossible to have, and schools that have moved their start time have found that they are still completely able to have sports practices, games, and other after school events. According to the Boston Globe, the school also stated that other schools that they compete against in sports have been very flexible with moving their games back a little or switching them to Saturdays.

 

Though schools have proven reluctant to moving their start times back, it seems that some are finally starting to listen and assess the evidence, which clearly demonstrates the positive effects of later starts. It is time for school administrators to wake up and recognize that the overwhelming body of evidence supports this policy change. The only reasonable option to promote student growth and achievement is to make the day start later.

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