It’s 8:00 am as I take my seat in advisory, not able to keep my eyes open. As I look around, my peers are bleary eyed, and I hear many yawns echoing around the room. I am used to being greeted by exhausted friends, and everyday I think to myself that surely it doesn’t have to be like this. There must be a solution. I believe the solution to this problem is starting our school day at 9:00 am rather than 8:05.
The extra hour would ensure that students will be fully engaged and ready to start their day when they sit down in advisory. Of the 210 of the students who responded to my survey, 40.3 percent agreed with starting the school day at 9 am and ending at 4 pm. I believe that it would improve the quality of life for ASL families.
According to Nationwide Chwildren’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, while the average teen sleeps 7 to 7 ¼ hours per night, they actually need 9 to 9 ½ hours. They note that “after puberty, there is a biological shift in an adolescent’s internal clock of about 2 hours, meaning that a teenager who used to fall asleep at 9:00 PM will now not be able to fall asleep until 11:00 PM.” If students are then going to get 9 hours of sleep, they must also wake up later.
When students are exhausted, they do not academically perform to their ability in class, in sports, in extra curricular activities, or in homework. Being sleep deprived can also affect their mood and behavior.
By starting school at 9:00, allowing students to get more sleep, teachers would be presented with classrooms full of students who are capable of both concentrating and behaving throughout the entire lesson. Mrs Belle Hayward, an eighth-grade science teacher said, “it will be easier to engage students in a lesson later in the day than in the morning.”
Many students in our middle school have social, extra curricular, and school related obligations that take many hours each day. These commitments prevent them from going to sleep at a time that allows them to get their nine hours. Additionally, for some students, there are responsibilities at home to complete, for example, washing the dishes, walking the dog, tidying up, etc. If the middle school were to change their start time to 9:00 am, middle school sports would be pushed slightly later. However, this would not be a problem as it would for the high school because middle school sports are different than high school sports. Practices are shorter and take less time to travel to because middle schoolers either practice at Cannons or at school, and practice fewer days per week than high school sports. For example, there is no crew team, so therefore, no long distance to travel for practice, and unlike high school school sports, there are no weekend practices.
Our middle school has always started around 8:05 am. Education Degree wrote, “It is simply harder to get people and systems to change; especially when people are used to things working one way.”
However, I believe changing the system will not only benefit the sleepy students, but also the teachers because they can take time to prepare for the day ahead to save some time late at night. Not to mention that they could offer after school programs in the morning before school, and those who are coaches can offer extra practices before school for the early waking students. This is one out of many options for the fifth and sixth graders along with the teachers who are the early birds.
There are students in the middle school who have two working parents who cannot leave their child at home early in the morning. This considered, if we were to have the Commons open early in the morning, students will have a place to catch up on work or chill and socialize before school starts.
Sydney Dowd, an eighth-grade student said,“I wake up early and usually have a lot of time to kill in the mornings.” Sydney is the type of student who benefit from morning study time in Commons, where she could do homework while she is bright and fresh, instead of after school when she is tired.
Overall, this new policy would lead to happier, healthier, more alert students and teachers who are able to choose which time of day they work best and optimise those hours.