Later school start times debate

The pandemic has allowed teens to choose their own bedtimes.  Not surprisingly, they prefer to go to sleep around midnight and awaken around 8 or so (“How Teens Can Get More Sleep,” The New York Times, May 28).  This pattern leads to the debate whether starting school a bit later than at present may result in greater learning.

Although it’s true that brain patterns of teens are different than adults, should schools change their schedules to meet their preferences?  If learning is the No. 1 consideration, then the answer is affirmative.  I realize that starting school later will necessitate changes in bus schedules and in less free time for those who are already involved in many extra-curricular activities.  But that is a small price to pay.

On the other hand, if the goal is to prepare teens for life after high school graduation, then changing the schedule will shortchange them. I say that because the typical work day starts at 9:00, or in some fields at 8:00.  How will young people adjust to that reality?  Employers are not going to change.  Yes, there are some companies that allow their employees to work from home at their own hours, but that is not yet the standard.

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2 Replies to “Later school start times debate”

  1. Not clear that getting up at 6:00 am during 7th through 12th grade makes it any easier to get up at 6:00 am when you get a job after high school or college. If that were the case, then high school juniors and seniors would be bright-eyed/bushy-tailed during their 7:30 am classes, given their “training” in getting up at 6:00 am from 7th through 10th grade.

    Starting high school classes before 8:30 am seems really dumb — penny-wise/pound-foolish if it’s being driven by budget issues and a special-interest-group evil if it’s being driven by the “serious” athletes who think getting the extra hour of sports practice each afternoon will somehow give them a lasting advantage in life.


  2. Labor Lawyer: Getting up early in high school will mean less adjustment when students enter the workforce. It’s a little like having to wear a suit and tie. Few like doing so, but get used to it.


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