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Is it too early to learn?

January 14, 2014

Is it too early to learn?

Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise - but not so for teenagers.

Teenagers are always complaining that school starts way too early for them and that they cannot concentrate that early in the morning. In fact if they had their way they would sleep in till at least noon.

But what if they are right? About the school starting too early bit at least.

Research has shown that teenagers’ sleep cycles are different to their parents or younger children - they are biologically programmed to stay awake late at night and rise later than other age groups. And with many children having to get up six or even earlier to get to school on time, this can damage their natural sleep patterns, causing them to be sleep deprived and tired throughout the school day. This sleep deprivation can lead to them being unfocused and to pay scant attention to what is happening in class, as well as sleeping though ‘boring’ subjects.

As many as 60% of children under the age of 18 say that they are sleep deprived and tired throughout the day, and as many as 15% admit to falling asleep at school.

While many South African schools only start at 8:00 in the morning, many are beginning to ask if this is maybe too early, especially considering the fact that so many children have to rise hours before school to get there on time.

Studies show that moving school’s opening times back as little as an hour and a half can have great improvements on the children’s performance, school attendance and mental health.

However, many are quick to point out that moving school times is not easy, especially with many children in high school having part time jobs, or parents that drop children off at school on their way to work. However, studies suggest that by giving children four to five more hours of sleep a week, it could increase their later earning potential as well as numerous other mental benefits.

So, next time your teenager complains that they are too tired for school, there might be  a little grain of truth in it.

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