There has been a growing body of research that shows that when schools push their start times to a later time in the morning that kids benefit greatly. The state of California seems to be on board with this as their Governor, Gavin Newsom has signed a new law that will give public schools later start times. The new law gives middle schools start times of 8:00 am or later and high schools start times of 8:30 or later.
The biggest reason for giving kids a later start to their day is to combat sleep deprivation. School-aged kids need at least nine hours of sleep and the theory is that if they are to start school later in the morning then they can get that precious sleep.
In an interesting study published by the National Education Association, researchers found that kids who started school later had fewer disciplinary actions, higher grades, and were able to pay attention more in class. Furthermore, the study showed that low-income students demonstrated significant improvements in rates of tardiness and absences.
Sleep is vitally important for a child for many reasons. Not only does sleep help kids regulate their moods (tired kids are grumpy kids) but sleep is when kids do the most growing. So, how can parents ensure that their kids re getting enough?
Create and stick to a routine
With your daily schedules in mind, create and stick to a nightly routine that includes a regular bedtime. By going to bed at the same time every night, kids not only know what to expect but their sleep rhythms and wake rhythms will run smoothly.
Create a buffer time
It’s impossible to go from crazy energy to bedtime, so try to create a buffer time when kids and parents can calm down for the day. Snuggle up and read some stories or talk quietly about your day. Dim the lights and quiet down any loud sounds like TV or computer games. This space of time is a great way to unwind while getting ready for bed.
Have good sleep hygiene
Make sure bedding is clean, pajamas are clean, and teeth and hair are brushed before bed. Sleep hygiene can play an important role in how well kids fall and stay asleep at night.
It remains to be seen how this trend toward later school times will go across the country. But at least for kids in California, getting that extra hour of sleep in the morning might be the key to helping them boost their grades and experience less stress throughout their school day.