Sleepy kids–should we just start school later?

I often joke that the main reason why I chose to homeschool was because I couldn’t wrap my head around getting all six of my kids up early in the morning to make sure they’re dressed and ready for school. It’s partly true–we attend a learning center once a week and you should see the level of craziness that is reached every Monday morning. And this is only once a week!

We prepare as much as we can the night before but the real struggle comes with trying to get my kids to wake up. My younger children (age 8, 9 and 11) are peaches in the morning. They often greet me with a smile and swollen eyes. My teenagers? It’s like trying to wake up three hairy bears from hibernation. And this is coming from a big mama bear who just woke up from hibernation herself. It’s not pretty.

Apparently, there are lots of families who are struggling with the fact that they have to wake up so early in the morning. In Parents of sleep-deprived teens push for later school times, a mom has to wake her 15 and 16 year old up at the ungodly hour of 6 am. They have to be out the door by 6:35 every morning. I know for a fact my kids wouldn’t be able to pull that off day after day. Not because I let them party all night long–my teens just don’t go to sleep as early as my younger kids do. According to Dr. Judith Owens, “we are asking [teens] to be awake and alert at the time in their 24-hour clock when their alertness level is at its very lowest.”

See, it’s science. And all this time I thought I was being a terrible parent because I couldn’t get my teens asleep by ten o’clock. They shower, read, strum on the guitar and talk about things teen boys do in a room full of brothers. But sleep? Sometimes that doesn’t come until almost midnight.

Some parents are so passionate about this subject, they put together a national petition that prevent public schools from starting before 8 a.m. Eight in the morning sounds very humane in comparison to a 6 am alarm blast. I can’t complain. Our learning center starts at nine in the morning and that is challenging enough. I remember sitting behind a school desk in the seven o’clock hour–it was torture. But then again, I’m not a functional human until nearly 10 am.

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9 thoughts on “Sleepy kids–should we just start school later?”

  1. I understand the hassle… We get up early as well.. But I don’t see why we should change the world to suit our kids. They need to be taught how to cope with early mornings, or odd schedules etc. They need to be taught how to greet real life at whatever time it happens.

    You can’t tell a disaster to go away and come again when everyone is awake. And you can’t tell your boss, that you won’t come in until you feel awake…If I did that I would never work because I would never leave my bed.

  2. I am awake at 6:00. My eighth grade son is up at 6:15 for a 7:15 bus. As soon as he heads out the door about 7:05, I wake up my 1st and 3rd graders. My 4 yr old preschooler is up by 7:30. At 8:00 my eighth grade daughter who is homeschooled comes down for breakfast and I head out the door to the bus with the two elementary kids. I get back in at 8:15 and wake up my 2 yr old. At 8:30 I head out the door with the last three to drop my son off at preschool. By 9:15 we are home and starting homeschooling. It’s exhausting! I’m not looking forward to tenth grade when the high school bus comes about 6:30.

  3. When we lived in the states, our school started at 7:45, which meant I was up at 6:30 and my oldest was up at 6:50. Our carpool left at 7:20. It also meant my youngest was up well before he needed to be. It was crazy. Now our school starts at 9:00, he doesn’t have to be up until 8:00. It gives him plenty of time to eat, get dressed and relax with a game or tv before starting his day. Mornings are much less stressful.

  4. Add me to the “ungodly hour” group. I’m up at 5:20, the kids are up at 5:45. We’re out the door at 7 a.m. We’ve tried to push the alarm time back, but almost no matter what time my cherubs wake up, they need time to cope with it. They relocate from bed to the couch. Breakfast is about 20-30 minutes later.

    I used to have a serious grudge against our early schedule, but we’re used to it now. My children leave the house alert and chipper. They both perform well. Though, when the topic of homeschooling has come up in our house, my younger one fantasizing about not having to get up so early. LOL

  5. Should we? of course. Will the entire economic system of the world adapt so that parents can drop their kids off later, kids not do as many after-school sports, and homework loads be lightened to accommodate this? Hah.

  6. My daughter is currently in preschool that drop off is at 8:30 and they start around 8:45, this gives kids some free play for a bit. We have trouble making the 8:30 and I am not sure how we are going to make the 8 start next year for kindergarten. The school is just down the road from us so it is not a long commute but there are mornings we over sleep and do not wake until 8. My daughter likes to sleep until 8 most mornings and she goes to bed between 7:30-8, she needs 12 hours and going earlier is not an option because Daddy gets home at 7 and is gone when she wakes up, she would never get to see him if I put her to bed earlier.

  7. For every child who hates waking early, you have an early bird who functions better in the first part of the day. So I dont think school should be changed to start later. My children are 5,8 and 10 and wake around 6:30. Bus comes at 7:20 and school starts at 7:45. It’s OK for us.

  8. My kids are 10&12. They wake between 5:45-6:00am to get on the bus at 6:40, school starts at 7:25. It is early, but that being said, I do like the early start, there is know way they’d have time for homework and studying along with their after school activities if they started any later.

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