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Later School Start Times for Teens?

If you’re anything like most parents we know—what with summer ending and the start of school looming—an overriding concern on your mind right now is ratcheting back your kid’s sleep schedule. As we work to teach parents to problem-solve with their children about unmet expectations, issues around bedtime or getting going in the morning are fairly standard issues in need of attention.

With this in mind, it’s great to read that the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a policy statement, has just come out advocating for later school start times for teens. It’s a call for change that seems important to get behind and advocate.

Perhaps most importantly, it highlights an aspect of our philosophy about kids that we often emphasize: when kids are not complying with adult expectations, we’re often talking about a lack of skill rather than a lack of will. In this case, the research is clearly showing that standard school start times simply don’t work given adolescent brain changes related to sleep cycles. Their staying up late, and staying in bed in the mornings, contrary to conventional wisdom, aren’t signs of willfulness after all. Yet again, time to “think differently!”

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