One problem with the education system is that schools start too early. Teens today do not get near the “…recommended amount of sleep on school nights: about 8.5 to 9.5 hours,” (Centers for Disease Control). Most Teens have to be at school by 7:30am which causes them to skip breakfast. Without breakfast Their bodies do not have the energy to stay awake so teens sleeping in class has become a more common. With so many kids falling asleep they can’t learn to their full potential which causes lower overall test scores. Also, with a lack of sleep and long school days, many teens end up driving when they are too tired to be fully alert. Schools should start later because many teens struggle to keep up with their classes while keeping up with all of their extra-curricular activities, work, and any homework that they may have.
The first reason schools should start later is that more kids could eat breakfast. Teens who don’t eat breakfast before school may find it hard for them to concentrate throughout the day. Teens who can’t always concentrate in school may find it harder to keep up with their grades. If someone falls too far behind they may just give up which would cause them to fail a class or a test. Studies have shown that kids who eat breakfast have better test scores than those who don’t (Breakfast Benefits 2). Breakfast doesn’t just help improve your grades, it can also help improve your mood. When kids don’t eat breakfast, they may end up being in a cranky mood. Being cranky isn’t the only way it could affect a child’s behavior. Many kids who don’t eat breakfast,
tend to eat more junk food which would cause them to be overweight. Researchers have found that people who eat breakfast are usually healthier than those who don’t (Breakfast Benefits 2). Eating breakfast in the morning helps your start your metabolism for the day which will help your body burn more calories.
Another reason to start schools later is that teens just need more sleep. Around the time children start to hit puberty their bodies go through all kinds of changes, including changes in their sleep patterns. When kids hit puberty their bodies’ sleep pattern starts shifting to later in the night. Dr. Denise Pope from Stanford University said that “Their circadian rhythms are different from adults. So even starting school at 8:30 can make a huge difference,” (Walker). Most teens stay up too late and have to get up too early to be able to get the recommended amount of 8 or more hours of sleep. Adding to the problem is “…we allow teens to stay up late, reward them with an extended curfew on the weekends, hope they catch up on sleep on the same weekend, and wonder why they are yawning constantly during the school week,” (Lopez). When teens don’t get as much sleep as their bodies require, they may be more likely to suffer from serious health risks. Some of these risks include “depression, an increased risk of substance abuse, and a higher risk of obesity,”(Schumaker). When teens don’t get enough sleep, they can also be moody or cranky through the day. When parents were asked about their child’s mood after starting school later in the day, “…92 percent of parents said their teenagers were ‘easier to live with,’” (Walker). Teens who don’t get enough sleep don’t just suffer from possible health risks and being cranky, their grades can also suffer. Attendance was affected “After the Minneapolis Public School District changed the starting times of seven high schools from 7:15 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. …. It found that students benefited by obtaining five or more extra hours of sleep per week. It also
found improvement in attendance and enrollment rates, increased daytime alertness, and decreased student-reported depression,” (School Start Time). Teens having to wake up too early isn’t only caused by early start times. Many schools start earlier for the bus routes so they can use less buses and save money, but if the students can’t learn effectively this schedule may not be the best for the kids. The teens who have to ride the bus are most affected by this because they have to get up earlier than the other kids so they are less likely to get all of the sleep that they need. When people don’t get all the sleep they need, their “…lost sleep accumulates from day to day. This accumulation is often referred to as the ‘sleep debt,’” (Carskadon).
The next reason that schools should start later is that it would help make driving for teens safer. When teens don’t get enough sleep and they also have long days of school, work, and other activities, they have to drive home and they may be tired. Driving at night is dangerous for teens because “…most fatal accidents with teenagers happen at night, even though most of their driving is done during the day,” (Shute). They also have a higher risk of being involved in a crash by falling asleep at the wheel or not being alert and awake. Most of the crashes that were reported where the driver fell asleep at the wheel were caused by teens. After the age of 20 the amount of reported crashes caused by drivers falling asleep at the wheel sharply declined. Falling asleep at the wheel isn’t the only hazard of driving while tired, “After 17 hours awake, a teen’s performance is impaired to the same extent that it would be with a blood alcohol content of 0.05 percent. Driving home from the prom at 6:30 in the morning (After 24 hours awake), a teen’s driving would be impaired as much as it would be with a blood alcohol content of 0.10 percent,” (Preventing Teen Motor Crashes). The effects of lack of sleep are more relevant in teens than it is in adults’ due to their bodies still developing and finding their natural sleep pattern.
Finally, School should start later because it would help students academically. Starting school just an hour later affects more than just test scores. A study in Wake county, North Carolina, showed that “… a one-hour delay in start time increases standardized test scores on both math and reading tests by roughly 3 percentile points,” (Edwards). The students where the increase of test scores was most noticeable were the below average students.
Schools starting later is beneficial for everybody involved. Students would be able to eat a healthy breakfast in the morning which would make them be more alert during the day and be able to concentrate better on their school work. It would also help their bodies by allowing them to get all of the sleep that they need in order to grow up healthy. Next it would help make the roads safer for everybody by lowering the risk of tired drivers and allowing kids to get home safely. Finally, it would help the students by allowing them to get the most out of school and helping them learn as much as they can before they grow up.
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