Schools Around The United States Are Finally Pushing Back Their Start Times – And It’s Working

Dobbs Ferry, in New York having a population of just over eleven thousand is your usual sleepy town, except for one thing. Kids are wide awake once the first school bell rings.

Dobbs Ferry School District last September joined a small but growing group of schools around the United States that have began pushing back their high and middle school start times with the aim of fighting student sleepiness.

Strengthened by a ton of sleep science study that says pre-teens and teenagers are some of the most sleep-deprived individuals and would really do better in school with more rest, these revolutionary schools are finally cutting tired students a break.

They are letting kids get more sleep thereby giving them more energy for daily school activities.

What happens when you start later?

Lisa Brady a superintendent in Dobbs Ferry tells Business Insider that before the 2015-2016 academic year, middle school students started daily school activities at 8:15am and high school students starts theirs at 7:30am. Under the umbrella of the new policy, each school now starts and ends their various school activities 45 minutes later. Both schools have experienced remarkable benefits, Brady says.

Following an analysis issued at the end of the previous school year, Brady says “it was obvious from both the kids and the parents, astonishingly, that the mornings were just less hectic”.

A lot of the kids reported having additional time to eat their breakfast and prepare for school, while parents said they didn’t have go through the problem of dragging their children out of bed or scream at them to hurry up. In the morning, once students got to school, they felt more prepared.

At night, the kids reported going to sleep at the same time, although the new schedule gave them an extra time of 45 minutes.

In Seattle, 2016-2017 academic years, 85 percent of high schools and middle schools exchanged start times with the elementary schools. These made the older kids start their activities at 8:45 am, whereas the youngsters start at 7:55 am.

An eighth-grader at Jane Addams Middle School: Kira Hoffman, tells KUOW that she “no longer feels super-charged or anxious about how much I’ve slept, or when I’m going to arrive at school, or if I’m going to be behind schedule for school”.

New Hope in Pennsylvania,

The progress has been building up steam for the past few years. At the advocacy cluster Start School Later, staffs have been assembling a continual list of districts and schools in the United States that have made the attempt to reposition the first bell. Thus far, schools in 44 states have joined the trend.

Solebury School Is one of those, in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where Director of Studies Rick Tony has pushed for a vigorous set of changes to the usual school schedule.

Starting this academic year, students at Solebury, a private day and boarding school, do not start until its 8:30am. It’s 9:00am on Wednesdays.

That’s a whole hour sooner than it was in the previous years, when the first bell sounded without delay at 8am.

At the same time, the school also upgraded from six 50-minute classes to four 80-minute classes. With fewer teachers to give homework, Tony says, kids can still enjoy the pleasure of their nights even if they get home later than they use to.

 

“Each time we ask for feedback, the outcome come back 10 to 1, positive straight down to negative,” he said.

Tony, a mathematics teacher, says his students already construct better work on a more regular basis, although the schedule is just one month old.

Inside the school campus, kids seem calmer now that they’re not dealing with a lot work as early in the day.

“This year the freneticism is absolutely reduced,” he says, he further stated that in a few months I plan to follow up with teachers to get solid statistics about the student accomplishment.

The disadvantages of delaying start times

Negative responses to later start times are unusual, but they do happen.

Brady says some parents at Dobbs Ferry have found it difficult to complete the necessary morning formal procedures and still arrive early at work. Meanwhile, Tony says the matter at Solebury is finding adequate buses for kids.

In both cases, the officials say there is now an option for parents to drop their kids off at school earlier than the first bell so they have time to eat breakfast, charge their gadgets and devices, or just hang out.

Brady also discovered challenges with sports and after-school clubs. In previous years, teams did not have trouble getting to their away games. Now they have got to deal with the issue of having less time to get there, and they also have to worry and deal with worse traffic.

“The children feel really rushed,” she says.

Once they finally arrive at home, many say they do not have adequate time for all the assignments they have been given. Brady says the school is thinking of about changes to be made to the school day in a likely manner to those made at Solebury.

In regions and districts where schools have yet to adopt the sleep science study, parents have started to speak up about the issue.

In the Los Angeles Times a recent op-ed included voices from disturbed parents who were tired of persuading bleary-eyed teenagers to get dressed.

“For years I have been saying that children, particularly high school students, should not be expected to be in their chairs trying to learn anything in the early hours of the morning,” a parent whose name is Paula Del said.

When questioned as to why more schools have yet to take her district’s lead, Brady guessed it has something to do with some sort of generational pride.

Even if the science is trustworthy and dependable, many parents and administrators basically don’t have pity for the sleepy youngsters. Waking up is hard, but it’s an unavoidable a part of life.

“I understand that years ago we all walked in the snow, usually a hundred miles to school,” Brady says. “But we now know better about the teenager brain and we know about their natural sleep cadence being different than that of adults’.”