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Monday, May 2, 2016

Don't make me come up there...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Well, it has been over a week since students returned to classes. Even the last of the college students will be back in classrooms next week.

The school year has begun, Labor Day weekend is this weekend and the first day of fall is less than a month away.

I hope we have a long, pleasant fall and a short and mild winter.

With classes underway, the debate amount the amount of sleep that students are getting begins anew. But nationally, the debate began earlier this year, in July, before classes even began.

A study in July makes a case for starting classes for high schoolers later in the day and shortening the length of school periods to provide more time for students to get more rest and do better at school.

The small study, which appears in the July Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, studied schools that have pushed back the start of the school day from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30.

I know, who starts school at 8 a.m.?


Anyway, the study indicated that the extra 30 minutes of sleep improved many things from students being more alert in class, better moods, less tardiness and even healthier breakfasts.

Pretty impressive, perhaps that's why we have been doing this for quite some time.

A boarding school in Rhode Island was among the test sites for this concept. In addition to starting the day later, all class times were cut five to 10 minutes to avoid a longer school day that would interfere with after-school activities. The change in student alertness made up for lost instruction time.

The portion of students reporting at least eight hours of sleep on school nights jumped from about 16 percent to almost 55 percent. Reports of daytime sleepiness dropped substantially, from 49 percent to 20 percent.

First-period tardies fell by almost half, students reported feeling less depressed or irritated during the day, health center rest visits dropped substantially; and the number of hot breakfasts served more than doubled.

The debate about the amount of sleep that is optimal for proper student achievement has been going on and will continue for as long as we educate children. Studies like this make for some interesting chatter, but rarely make a larger impact.

The reason is that each child is unique. Depending on the activities they are in before or after school, if they are employed and how strict their parents are on enforcing bedtimes, the amount of sleep each child needs or gets varies widely, especially at this time of year when routines are being reestablished.

I can recall getting up seven days a week to deliver newspapers in the morning. It didn't take all that long to deliver the papers, just long enough to become fully awake, then return home for maybe 45 minutes of sleep. Looking back, I probably would have been better off just staying up, because the quality of the small amount of sleep more than likely wasn't all that good.

The children of today have so many more ways to spend their time, it is no wonder that many are sleep deprived. Wireless Internet connections to laptops, cellular phones, texting, instant messaging -- all can be done in the privacy of a bedroom. Short of having an electronic jamming device or setting off an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), the only recourse parents have to curb these devices is to simply take them away.

And we all know how popular that makes us with the teenagers.

One of the few things that I believe everyone can agree on is the need for parental involvement and support. Ask any educator and they will tell you that the parents that are actively engaged in their child's life and education help the process and benefit their children.

Making sure your child gets enough sleep may not make you popular, but it will be a short term pain for a possible long term gain.

And that makes it worth the grief.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@lemarscomm.net, telephone 712-546-7031, x40 or toll free 1-800-728-0066 x40.

Thanks for reading, I'll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.

By Tom Stangl
From the publisher's desk

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