Why Should School Start Later?

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Teens reverie sleep each day. This need does not imply laziness on their part or lack of ambition thereof. Instead, sleep cycles change as children grow into adolescence. In adolescence, teens stay up until late and only get up late. It happens because their bodies release a hormone called melatonin which regulates their sleep. Consequently, the melatonin-induced rest keeps teens asleep until 8 a.m. making it appropriate to go to school later. Schools starting later help improve physiological and psychological well-being and help improve learners’ educational performance.

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Physiological and Physical Well-Being

Arguably, the most crucial reason schools should start later is adolescent physiology. Adolescents are still growing and developing, and their body clocks are still changing. Studies have shown that, due to these changes, adolescents tend to go to bed later and wake up later than adults, leading to a lack of sleep (Crowley et at., 2018). This lack of sleep can negatively affect adolescents’ physical and mental health, such as fatigue, irritability, and poor concentration. Starting school later would allow adolescents to get the amount of sleep they need. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that when schools started later, adolescents got an extra 42 minutes of sleep per night compared to when schools began earlier. This extra sleep can help to improve their physical and mental health and can help to improve their performance in school.

The teenage years are a time of rapid physical and psychological growth and development. As adolescents try to figure out who they are and where they fit in, they often feel overwhelmed by the pressures of school, their peers, and society. As a result, adolescents are more prone to stress and anxiety than adults. One way to help reduce this stress is to start school later in the morning. By giving adolescents more time to rest and relax before facing the pressures of school, they can better manage their stress levels (Freeman et at., 2020). Studies have shown that adolescents report feeling less stressed, more rested, and more alert when school starts later in the morning. These findings suggest that starting school later in the morning can reduce stress and improve psychological functioning in adolescents. In addition to reducing stress, starting school later can also help to enhance adolescents’ self-esteem.

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Adolescents often struggle with insecurity and self-doubt as they try to fit in with their peers and find their place in the world (Freeman et al., 2020). As a result, they often compare themselves to their peers, leading to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Starting school later can reduce this pressure by giving adolescents more time to rest and relax. This habit can help adolescents to accept themselves for who they are and be more confident in their abilities. Evidence from studies has shown that when school starts later in the morning, adolescents report feeling more positive about themselves, including handling more confident, less anxious, and less stressed (Patrick et al., 2020). Starting school later can also help adolescents better manage their emotions. Adolescents often struggle with regulating their emotions and can become easily overwhelmed by their feelings. These emotional states can lead to irritability, impulsivity, and aggression. However, starting school later in the morning can help reduce these feelings, giving adolescents more time to rest and relax before facing the pressures of school. Evidence from studies has shown that when school starts later, adolescents report feeling less irritable, more alert, and more capable of managing their emotions.

Educational Reasons

The most apparent educational benefit of starting school later is that it gives students more time to sleep. Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and is vital for students’ physical and mental health. A later start can give students more time to get the sleep they need to be well-rested and alert during the school day. Studies have shown that students who get adequate sleep are more likely to perform academically, attend better, and be more motivated in school (Sweller et al., 2019). In addition to the potential health benefits of getting more sleep, starting school later can also provide more time for learning and development. With more time in the morning, adolescents can participate in activities such as studying, reading, or reviewing material they learned the previous day. This action can help improve their understanding of the material and help them retain the information longer.

A later start time can also provide more time for extracurricular activities and sports. These activities can help improve adolescents’ physical health and provide them with opportunities for social interaction and emotional development (Freeman et al., 2020). Providing adolescents more time for these activities can help improve their overall well-being. Furthermore, starting school later can help to reduce the stress that students often experience. With a later start time, students can spend more time on activities they enjoy and less worrying about getting up for school in the morning. This will help reduce stress levels and allows students to focus more on their education.

Conclusion

In conclusion, there are many advantages to having school start later. School starting later would give students more time to get adequate sleep, which helps with their mental and physical health. Furthermore, students would be more alert and have better focus during their classes, allowing them to absorb more information and make better grades. Later starting times also give students more time to spend on extracurricular activities and less time worrying about homework and exams. Finally, starting school later would reduce students’ stress and help create a more positive school environment. In addition, starting school later would benefit both students and teachers, an idea that school administrators should seriously consider.

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  1. Crowley, S. J., Wolfson, A. R., Tarokh, L., & Carskadon, M. A. (2018). An update on adolescent sleep: New evidence informing the perfect storm model. Journal of Adolescence, 67, 55-65.
  2. Freeman, S., Marston, H. R., Olynick, J., Musselwhite, C., Kulczycki, C., Genoe, R., & Xiong, B. (2020). Intergenerational effects on the impacts of technology use in later life: Insights from an international, multi-site study. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(16), 5711.
  3. Patrick, S. W., Henkhaus, L. E., Zickafoose, J. S., Lovell, K., Halvorson, A., Loch, S., … & Davis, M. M. (2020). The well-being of parents and children during the COVID-19 pandemic: A national survey. Pediatrics146(4).
  4. Sweller, J., van Merriënboer, J. J., & Paas, F. (2019). Cognitive architecture and instructional design: 20 years later. Educational Psychology Review, 31(2), 261-292.
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