Emma Kate Fittes, writing for the Indianapolis Star, has an article on a plan by Noblesville Schools to basically flip their elementary and high school start times to accommodate research showing that teens are wired to sleep later. “In 2019, elementary schoolers will start their day almost an hour earlier, at 7:50 a.m., and middle and high schoolers will begin more than an hour later, at 8:40 a.m.” This comports with a recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that school start times for adolescents be 8:30 or later.
Studies show that adolescents who don’t get enough sleep often suffer physical and mental health problems, an increased risk of automobile accidents and a decline in academic performance. But getting enough sleep each night can be hard for teens whose natural sleep cycles make it difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. – and who face a first-period class at 7:30 a.m. or earlier the next day. . . . [T]he American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends middle and high schools delay the start of class to 8:30 a.m. or later. Doing so will align school schedules to the biological sleep rhythms of adolescents, whose sleep-wake cycles begin to shift up to two hours later at the start of puberty.
I suspect this move will cue the chorus of people who routinely complain about how we’re coddling kids these days. That chorus, I further suspect, has a significant overlap with the population which isn’t likely to be convinced by “research” and “science.” Their gut says that if we don’t make life hard for kids then we’re ruining them. Making them soft. Also, early start times were good enough for the older generations. (Also, walking to school uphill both ways in the snow, outhouses, leechcraft, etc. Probably.)
One parent asked, “if students would have access to wifi on the bus, to get a jump start on homework instead of waiting until they get home.” This was not part of the article, but . . . about homework: There doesn’t seem to be much evidence that it’s helpful. So, we could probably free up some sleep time by thinning out the amount of homework being assigned. But, again, that probably would offend our cultural sensitivity about the evils of sloth, virtue of work, and weird need to believe that each generation is worse than the last.