The American Academy of Pediatrics this summer issued a recommendation that High Schools and Middle Schools not start before 8:30am. Their recommendation was based on research that demonstrated a wide variety of impacts that extend beyond school performance (which it clearly impacts), but into health and safety as well.

In the past, I've been lukewarm on this issue, as I think is often the case when people have yet to deal with kids in their teen years. For those of you who aren't there yet, I understand you might be skeptical. For those well beyond, perhaps you've forgotten. But for those of us living with teenagers who try, but simply can't, fall asleep early enough to get sufficient sleep, the impact is obvious and the solution is clear.

Among the problems associated with insufficient sleep:
  • reduced school performance, including increased absenteeism and tardiness, but all culminating with lower test scores and GPA
  • worsened health, including increased depression rates and risk-taking behaviors, obesity and diabetes
  • reduced safety, including higher rates of car accidents, and higher rates of sports injuries
The reasons not to change school schedules are all tied up in co- and extra-curriculars and bus schedules. There are solutions to all of these, though a bit of creativity and compromise may be necessary. But many districts all over the country have already tackled this. The impact on sports may be counterintuitive, because many fear it will make scheduling too difficult, but districts have not only managed this successfully, but even found a reduced rate of injuries among athletes, making the change a huge net win for sports.

We are laggards on this issue, with 60% of American high schools already starting after 8am. Our 7:30 start, with our 6:45am bus run starts, is not only unproductive, it's borderline inhumane. While most adults are sipping their morning coffee, our kids are yawning in classrooms trying to make it through the day. We implemented rotating block schedules to ensure that kids weren't missing a subject entirely during that first block by having the same class while still zombies every day. That's a half-assed solution. Why not just let them sleep in a bit instead?

There is a prior thread on this topic, but it got into a debate on the value of extracurriculars instead. They are valuable, and I don't want them to go away. But I don't want to discuss that here, and I will move posts on that topic to the other thread.

In this thread, I want to talk about starting school later, address obstacles and come up with solutions. Let's do the right thing and make this happen.

We can talk here, and I invite those who want to be involved to join the Facebook Group Start School Later Wayland MA