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David Baxter

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Most Teens Want a Later Start to School Days
by Robert Preidt

SUNDAY, May 20 (HealthDay News) -- Many American teens believe that starting school later in the morning and giving tests later in the school day would help improve their grades, a new study finds.

Researchers surveyed 280 students at a suburban high school outside of Philadelphia. The students start their school day at 7:30 a.m. and finish at 2:25 p.m. The survey found that:

  • 78 percent of the students said they found it difficult to get up in the morning.
  • Only 16 percent said they felt they got enough sleep.
  • 70 percent said they believed their grades would improve if they had more sleep.
  • 90 percent felt their academic performance would improve if school started later in the morning.
  • Many students said they did not feel alert taking tests during early morning classes and don't think they're at the peak of their academic ability at that time.
  • Most of the teens said the best time to take tests would be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"Teenagers need more sleep than adults [eight to nine hours vs. seven to eight] and their circadian rhythms are phase shifted so that their ideal bedtime is midnight to 1 a.m.; yet they have to get up at 6:30 or earlier for high school," study author Dr. Richard Schwab, of the University of Pennsylvania, said in a prepared statement.

High schools should start classes at 8:30 or 8:45 in the morning, he said.

"School systems should be thinking about changing their start times. It would not be easy -- they would have to change the busing system -- but it would increase their students' sleep time and likely improve their school performance," Schwab said.

The study was slated for presentation Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's international conference, in San Francisco.

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 20, 2007
 

just mary

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The students start their school day at 7:30 a.m. and finish at 2:25 p.m.

Wow, that is early! When I first saw the title of this thread, I thought, "duh, what teen doesn't want a later start to school days", then I saw how early they were actually starting.

Now, maybe it's because we're a bit further north and the days are a little shorter in Canada during the winter but I've never heard of any school starting classes before 8:30 AM. Is a 7:30 AM start "normal" in American schools?

Just curious...

jm
 

Halo

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I've never heard of any school starting classes before 8:30 AM. Is a 7:30 AM start "normal" in American schools?

I was going to ask the same thing. I don't recall any school when I was going starting before 8:45 a.m or 9:00 a.m.. Practices for sports were normally taking place between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.

Maybe it is different in the American schools??
 

David Baxter

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No, it's that way in many Ontario high schools currently. This started maybe 8-10 years ago as a provincial cost-saving measure. They stagger the school start time for elementary versus high schools so they can reuse the same buses.

High school starts at 7:30 to 7:45. Elementary school starts at 9:00.

I've always thought that's totally reversed from what's logical. Younger children tend to wake up earlier anyway and with school not starting until 9 many parents need pre-school daycare arrangements. High school students don't wake up until 10-11 (or noon) and they don't need babysitters.

It never made any sense to me but of course the decisions were made by politicians. Nothing politicians do has to make any sense. It's an essential part of the job description.
 

Halo

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High school starts at 7:30 to 7:45.

I seriously am glad that my high school days are over :eek: I had a hard enough time making it to class on time for 9:00 a.m. when I was in high school, that I would never make it today.....half the day would be over by the time I arrived :panic:
 

David Baxter

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Ditto. When I was doing my B.A., I had a firm rule. Any class I had before 10 am, I just went twice: Once to get the class outline and once to write the final exam. :eek:
 

Halo

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That is so funny....and now I have to ask, did you end up passing those 10 a.m. classes by only going twice?
 

David Baxter

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That is so funny....and now I have to ask, did you end up passing those 10 a.m. classes by only going twice?

Of course! Mind you, it was only like one class a year. I worked REALLY hard to get transferred into later classes. :D
 

Daniel

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Related quote:

I took economics. The only problem was I took it at 8 a.m. You can only learn so much through one bloodshot eye. I asked the professor ‘Why are you teaching at this ungodly hour? Are you trying to keep it a secret?’

-- Lewis Black (comedian)
 

just mary

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High school starts at 7:30 to 7:45. Elementary school starts at 9:00.

I've always thought that's totally reversed from what's logical.

I totally agree, what were they thinking? They were probably male politicians. :D
 

Danny Boy

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They have a similar thing in our local school district. High school starts at 7:30, ends at 2:05, elementary school starts and ends later. It really should be reversed.

Prior to that, K-12 all had classes in the same building we all started at 8 am and ended around 3. I had asked my high school principal why the high school started later, he said "do you know of any jobs that start at 9AM on the dot".

He was right, I personally think high school should prepare you for the real world rather than coddling you.

Just my opinion. :)
 

David Baxter

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When you have ajob, you have a direct incentive for going - the paycheque. Many teens have a hard time motivating themselves to go and sit in the classroom all day as it is, where the "payoff" is often listening to an unenthusiastic, jaded teacher drone on about a subject in which they have no interest and the "payoff" doesn't come until the end of high school at the earliest.

Politicians up here complain about the high and increasing dropout rate. Their solution is to suggest a law that would make it impossible for kids to get a driver's license until age 19 unless they were still in school. Utter stupidity! Apparently the idea of trying to look at some curriculum reform and other changes to actually motivate kids never occurred to them. :rolleyes:
 

stargazer

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I used to have to accompany choir rehearsals at a middle school at what they called "Zero Period," which took place at 7:30am, one hour before classes started at 8:30am. I noticed that the kids by and large were extremely energetic, and I guess I chocked it up to the age group. I really didn't know what to make of it.
 

David Baxter

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Middle school (at least here) is pre-teens. High school is when they need 18 hours of sleep a day and get about 5 hours.
 

stargazer

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Whatever these kids needed, it definitely wasn't sleep. If I recall correctly, when the entire middle school gathered for the final Choir performance, they threw spitballs at the childrens singing. But then again, they all clapped in the middle of a song one time when they thought it was cool. (It was in the section of "Seasons of Love" from Rent, after the solos where it goes -- "How about: Lo-o-o-ve.." etc. So they weren't all bad.)
 

pip

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For second year university, I had to arrange all my courses so that none started before ten am. I function best when I'm up at eight am and sleep at eleven. I noticed a HUGE improvement (ten percent) in my grades with the new schedule versus the old, especially in winter. Rather than get up at six am in the dark, I got up at eight am during the daylight, and I woke up more refreshed than before.

In high school, I had no problem getting to class for eight thirty in the morning, however my grades in my morning classes were significantly lower than in my afternoon classes. I rearranged it so my "bird" courses were in the morning, and my most difficult class was just before lunch when my mind was most awake and active. By moving my physics class from morning to afternoon, I noticed a 7% increase in my grade.

To be honest, I attribute clever scheduling to my current personal success. While I probably would have achieved what I have so far regardless of when my physics class was scheduled, I'm sure it would have been more difficult.
 

stargazer

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To Pip: What a great post! You inspire me to explore whether a change in my scheduling might create similar solutions to problems I am facing.

As most people on this forum know, I've always been an early riser. My dad taught me that to get up before the rest of the world is awake would give me a "head-start" on the world. He also told me that my best thinking and my best work would be accomplished in the first three hours of the day, like Mozart, I suppose.

While this has been true to some extent, I have also noticed that every afternoon at around 3pm, I fall asleep almost uncontrollably. Yesterday it occurred in the library over my laptop, and I had to trudge home on foot, where I went down for an hour nap.

Then, I could not get to sleep till after midnight, and I didn't awaken till 7:30am (which for me, is about as late as I ever awaken.)

Though I am not a student at this time, I wonder how much my sleeping schedule, if altered, might positively influence my life and my time management.

I think food is also of the essence, as I rarely eat breakfast, but have been told that a little protein in the morning might off-set the 3pm afternoon crash. I may have a slight case of hypoglycemia. However, I will not be able to see a doctor until the transfer of my State of California Health Benefits (MediCal) goes through the bureaucracy from one County to another. (I say this so that people in Canada will not wonder why I am not going to a doctor.)
 

Mari

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H! Don't worry - bureaucracy is alive and well in Canada - it just stalls from province to province instead of from state to state. Even within the district it is impossible - I sent a letter over two years ago (which the government acknowledges they received) but I am still waiting for a response.

I usually make it until about 4pm before I crash although I am trying to follow all the directives to alleviate this. Funny how things from our parents stick with us even when they are not necessarily helpful.

Do the bureaucrats listen? My son's school will be starting twenty minutes earlier this year so he has changed all his morning classes. It has actually worked out okay because his first class will start an hour later than last year. I do not think the earlier starting time will be good for most teens who might not be able to change their first class.

Take care :) Mari
 

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