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Why You Should Let Your Teen Go to School Late (page 2)

Why You Should Let Your Teen Go to School Late

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Updated on Sep 9, 2010

However, some experts aren’t convinced. For one, there is the exclusivity of the sample group who were subject to a mandatory lights out—a far cry from the average teen in the average home filled with nighttime activity, texting, computer chats, and TV. But even for kids from less advantaged backgrounds, experts are intrigued. Dr. Michael Ohlde, a clinical psychologist in San Bernardino working with disadvantaged children struggling with anger issues, depression, and impulse-control disorders, points out that his clients “are already being home schooled or attending alternative schools. In both settings, the children are more successful, and both are associated with later start times. While there are confounding factors in both environments, the impact of later start times should not be understated.” However, the lack of a control group leaves many questions unanswered—a problem not lost on Dr. Avidan, but one that only begs for more research. “The lack of a control group is a negative point perhaps, but it shouldn’t preclude the results being used as a basis for further studies.”Still, for most parents of teenagers there is one fact that may stand out as the most suspect. In the study, a later start time didn’t result in a later end time, but a shorter school day…and it would be a rare teen indeed who would report depression and dissatisfaction with a shorter school day.

Despite its problems, the study is not the only one of its kind, and the trend in all of the research points toward the positive outcome of later start times for teens. As Dr. Avidan points out, “There is chemistry behind this. There is physiology behind this. And I think rather than adhering to a “one-model-fits-all” school schedule for all grades one through 12, with no particular attention to the circadian variations as [kids] mature and go through puberty—is wrong.” Most parents are intrigued by the possibility of just one area of improvement. But the idea of having healthier, happier, safer kids just from adding a little extra time in the morning, that’s a big deal. At the end of the day, it would seem that changing when we start is worth whatever big hassles that little half hour might cause.

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