Our Northwest

Early start times challenge high schoolers

Friday, May 17, 2013by  Jon Osterberg

Everett School District may schedule high school classes to begin at 7:10 a.m. this year, 20 minutes earlier than usual.
   The switch aims to save $163,000 on transportation costs.
   Some parents are voicing concern, noting their kids already struggle to stay awake in 1st-period class. Experts in teen academics warn of a biological tie between early morning classes and poor concentration, noting that teenagers are wired to stay up later, sleep in later, and ideally need nine hours of sleep.
   In fact, 250 school districts nationwide that now delay first classes until 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. report better attendance and alertness among students.
   As a parent, I lamented early morning classes when my own kids were in high school. Rousing them at oh-dark-thirty and steering them out the door in pre-dawn blackness was hard for them and mom and dad. Being inside the school building at six-something a.m. meant they got less than seven hours of sleep each weeknight.
   Educators had it right decades ago. My 1st-period class began at 8:00 a.m. throughout high school. That meant I could sleep in until 7:00. For us, riding on a school bus in darkness only happened on Saturday mornings during ski school, or after basketball practice in the winter.
   Another school of thought points out that a later start time – and later dismissal – brings its own problems for high school students: impacted job schedules, young siblings who need babysitting, sports teams competing for lighted playfields, and coordinating game times with other high schools. Read the Everett Herald article.

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