Earlier school start times may lead to mental health issues in kids, study finds

Early school start times may lead to mental health issues in teenagers as well as riskier behaviour, an expert has warned.

This comes after a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that teens are not getting enough sleep every night.

Lisa Lewis, a public health expert, says this sleep deprivation could lead to mental health issues as well as riskier behaviour in teens.

She says that too many teens are forced to get up at 5 am to get to school.

Earlier school times may cause mental health issues in teenagers

It seems teenagers aren’t getting as much sleep as they should be. This may be because they are doing too many extracurricular activities, as well as potentially working leading them to stay up longer than usual.

They are then getting up earlier, often around 5 am, in order to get to school due to earlier school times.

“Too many teams are getting nowhere near the amount of sleep they need,” Lewis, who wrote The Sleep-Deprived Teen: Why Our Teenagers Are So Tired, and How Parents and Schools Can Help Them Thrive, told DailyMail.com.

“We know that sleep deprivation does exacerbate mental health issues. We have stronger emotions when we haven’t gotten enough sleep. It also heightens impulsive behaviour, which sadly does play into suicidal behaviours.”

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Goodbye to 9-3 school times? Eight schools take part in staggered school times trial

This comes after eight schools in NSW are trialling staggered start times, the traditional school start and ending times are a thing of the past for a period of time!

These primary schools are taking part in a new government trial that will see alternative operating hours introduced, including 7 am to 1 pm shifts.

The trial is set to kick off in terms three and four but will not alter teaching hours.

Goodbye to 9-3 school times? Eight schools take part in staggered school times trial

Schools take part in the staggered school time trial

It wasn’t that long ago that NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said he was looking into overhauling the current school start and finish times in his state.

Now it looks like these staggered school times could be the future of schooling in Australia.

“We know it can be a challenge for families juggling the competing demands of work and family life around standard school hours and this pilot is about exploring options to help with that,” Perrottet told the Sydney Morning Herald

“We want to offer greater support and comfort to parents, knowing that their kids are safe and happy taking part in a homework club in the school library, a dance class in the school hall or soccer practice on the school oval.”

NSW schools to take part in the trial

  1. Cawdor Public School
  2. Hanwood Public School
  3. Hastings Secondary College
  4. Kentlyn Public School
  5. Matraville Soldier’s Settlement Public School
  6. Orange High School
  7. Spring Hill Public School
  8. Tacking Point Public School.

Some schools have already changed their school hours, such as Merrylands East Public School, which operates from 8 am and 1.15 pm with no lunch break. Edmund Rice College near Wollongong has similar times.

Many schools are already putting on breakfast clubs, study groups and co-curricular programs outside the hours of 9 am and 3 pm.

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“The school hours of nine till three, that was set up at a very different time in life … the world in the 1950s is very different from the world we live in today,” Perrottet has previously said.

“We as a government will be looking always at better ways of doing things, of thinking outside the box and striking new directions moving forward.”

School times times and school holidays are tricky for working parents

As it stands, school hours and school holidays are an impossible juggle for working parents. For many, the working day is 9-5, whereas school is 9-3. And most employees are entitled to four weeks of annual leave but there are 10 weeks of school holiday.

A lot of parents have to shell out for before and after school care, as well as a camp or childcare in the school holidays. These are costly and it’s also not guaranteed you will get a space.

This move comes after many schools temporarily changed their hours during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some teachers disagree with a flexible school day

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However, some teachers have hit back at this idea of a flexible school day, stating that school is about education not ‘childcare’ and that before and after school care should be adjusted instead.

What’s more, a large proportion of teachers are women who also have families to think about.

Meanwhile, NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos has previously said, “We have serious issues concerning education, top of the list is a significant teacher shortage, with underlying causes of uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads.”

Try some delicious recipes from The Healthy Kids Lunch Boxes Recipe Book

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