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graham
graham asks:
Q:

Why do schools start so early in the morning?

In the US the schools on the whole seem to start very early in the morning- why is that? Is it to get out in time to tend to the herd, or other farming related hangovers?

On a similar note, have there been any studies to determine what is the optimal time schools should start to maximize the students concentration and comprehension? For high schools at least, I would guess that its not at 7:30am.
In Topics: Public School, State education standards, Sleep and rest
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Wayne Yankus
Jul 30, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

yes this was studied in Edina, MN. and in Alexandria, VA.  there have been a number of adolescent studies about school start times here and abroad.  Given the natural shift in adolescents, school should start at 9-10 and end at 6pm.  Food should be available throughout the day. SAT's and grades went up and pregnancy went down.

Alexandria abandoned it because of government workers schedules. Kindergartners,on the other hand, are ready for school first thing in the morning and need to rest by noon to do well.

The reason for start times comes from farming. Older kids went in the dark after chores, and younger kids went in the daylight. It should be the reverse.

Hard to change. Some schools have done minor changes with success.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics
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Additional Answers (6)

jritchie
jritchie writes:
Hi there - You make a good point. I don't know of any formal studies on the subject but from my experience young children tend to wake up very early in the morning. But the older you get the harder it seems to wake up so maybe there should be adjustments for this in high school etc :)
> 60 days ago

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education.com
education.com writes:
Hi Graham,

We shared your question on Twitter (@JustAskEdu), and received a couple responses tweeted from LaToniya A Jones at Powertheyouth.org (on Twitter @powerorgmath)...

"I'm thinking rationale is to accommodate parents' schedules since most children are not alert & several are hungry...I'm an advocate of late start school days. Better academic success rates for middle school classes that are after 9am."

We'll let you know if there are any other additional responses via Twitter or Facebook. Thanks for asking!

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Nben
Nben writes:
One of the reason's is: most students at high school work afternoon, to get out from school early, will give them the time to do both study and work, i think if the schools start late and finish late we will have a lot of drop out students.
> 60 days ago

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StartSchoolLater
StartSchool... writes:
This question has two components: 1) Where did anyone get the idea that it was acceptable to start school before sunrise?, and 2) Why don’t we start schools later now that there’s compelling evidence that starting so early is counterproductive and dangerous? (See schoolstarttime.org for the latest on this research).

The answer to #1 in many school systems has to do with transportation: A few decades back, when school starting busing most kids to school, triple bus runs turned out to be most cost-efficient. The result was that many high schools, even those that had begun after 8:30 until then, began starting in the 7 o’clock hour so no one got out too late. The answer to #2 is more complicated and has to do with politics, money, and human nature (we tend to make a virtue of necessity, and once school hours shifted, entire communities adapted accordingly; now people can’t imagine life any differently and will fight fiercely to protect the status quo). Making matters worse is the American characterization of “sleep” as a luxury (“early to bed, early to rise”) so that efforts to push school hours back are often met with derision.

Collective action on a national scale appears to be the only hope for establishing evidence-based school hours set to prioritize learning, safety, health, and equity. The good news is that local groups are starting to come together to make this happen, even petitioning for a minimum school start time of 8 a.m. (http://bit.ly/tWa4dS). For more information, see StartSchoolLater.net.

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mjskummer
mjskummer writes:
Its because the schools principles want the kids there early in the morning so the kids can get their stuff out.
> 60 days ago

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TeacherandParent
TeacherandP... writes:
It's not about the farms - it's about the buses. The same buses that take high schoolers to school also take the Middle Schoolers to school and the elmentary school children as well. Someone has to get up early - there are not enough buses to take every student to school at the same time and if there were, those buses wouldn't be able to go anywhere because the roads would be clogged with bus traffic!
So they stagger the times that schools open. Who should get up earliest? Traditionally it's been thought that little children need the most sleep and are hardest to wake up and get dressed so elementary schools start latest. Middle Schools next and that leaves high schoolers catching their buses at 5:30 and 6:00 in the morning and some high schools start at 7!

Even while studies show that the natural biorhythms of high schoolers are such that they're literally programmed by Nature to stay up late and sleep late. There have been studies done that show the early start times for our high schools are Not optimal for learning.
> 60 days ago

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