Are early start times good for growing teens?

March 26, 2023

As of 2023, Wauconda High School’s start times affect both the staff and students that come in daily. Students come into school five days a week tired and dreading the rest of the day. The staff, which includes both teachers and others, has a hard time trying to get the tired students focused and ready to learn in the early hours of the day.  

Almost every student comes in exhausted as well as not even wanting to learn in the morning. Wauconda High School starts classes at around 7:20 am but the American Academy of Pediatrics says they should do otherwise. According to it’s “recommend[ed] that middle and high schools start at 8:30 am or later” for the benefit of students being more awake and engaged in what they are learning. “It’s really hard for me to focus when I’m really tired,” says Trinity Bjork, a Freshman at Wauconda. She explains how she’s “engaged during English which takes place during 7th period at 12:49 pm. She’s not engaged in the lessons during the morning due to the fact that she’s tired and sleep deprived. Students tend to pay more attention when they are in classes later during the day due to them being more awake and alert of their surroundings plus the teacher’s lesson.

The students aren’t the only ones who need to deal with the early call of the start time. Teachers struggle to teach their lessons to students who are half awake at 7:20 in the morning. They have to figure out how they’re going to get their students engaged in their lessons while they try to sleep in class. It doesn’t help that most students don’t get the full 8 hours of sleep that are needed. Some, who have mounds of homework they still need to complete, only end up getting around 3 or 4 hours per day which, then, only makes early start times worse for them. Ms. Ellison, an Honors Physics teacher, notices that “students seem the most focused during periods 3-6, basically right in the middle of the day” and how “the majority don’t seem ready to learn and participate until around 3rd period.” Most people would have such a positive reaction toward later start times. “I would be so happy about it,” says Melody Manzella, a freshman at WHS. There are so many benefits to both the students and staff at the school. 

A good thing that comes from later start times is how not only do the students get an extra hour of sleep, but the teachers are able to effectively teach students when they’re awake and ready to learn. “8:00-8:15 would be a more productive start time,” says Ms. Ellison, “it gives teachers a chance to get here an hour earlier than students, which is a great amount of time for us to prepare.” The teachers are able to gain more time with a later start and get their materials ready. The students can be ready to learn and take on the rest of the day. Later start times is the best decision for us all.  


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