Are Later School Start Times Better for Your Teen?

Do later start times help teens focus in high school? Signs point to yes

Photography by Sean McGrath via Flickr (cc)

Photography by Sean McGrath via Flickr (CC)

Fewer kids are skipping class at Eastern Commerce Collegiate Institute since it moved to a 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. timetable in 2009. The Toronto high school’s late start accommodates sleep patterns of teens—hard-wired to go to bed and rise later than younger children and adults. New research also shows that students at the school are 2.5 times more likely to get nine hours of sleep—the optimal amount for adolescents—than kids at a similar school who followed conventional timetables, averaging 30 minutes more per night. A full night of sleep has been shown to boost kids’ memory and attention spans, plus help them regulate emotions.

Later School Start Times Aren’t Just for Sleeping In
Principal Jennifer Chan says the later start makes it easier for students to participate in extracurricular sports practices held before class, and to get extra help from teachers, now held at 9 a.m. instead of at the end of the day when students are tired. It also makes life easier for those who travel to the school from a distance, and for those who drop off younger siblings on their way each day.

“I was a vice principal and teacher at several different schools before coming to Eastern Collegiate, and I find that even though we go to four o’clock, students here have the energy and the concentration within the class environment right through to the end of the day,” says Chan.

Anecdotally, the timetable seems to support other initiatives at the school geared toward reducing behavioural incidents, says Chan. “There’s just generally a more positive atmosphere when students are well rested.”

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8 responses to “Are Later School Start Times Better for Your Teen?”

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