In a typical school day at a traditional school, students only spend around 55% of their day on actual academic lessons. The rest of their time is spent in assemblies, breaks, walking to class etc.
Online schooling with CambriLearn provides the opportunity for more effective and efficient scheduling. This means that children can adopt a daily timetable that better suits their unique needs. Many homeschooling families adopt a later school start time to ensure that their pre-teens and teens get enough sleep for optimal physical and mental development.
In this article, we will discuss some of the benefits that children can experience due to a later school start time. We will also take a look at the correlation between sleep and grades and how a lack of sleep affects a child’s performance.
The daily grind
Consider the daily routine of a pre-teen or teenager in a traditional school system.
Their morning alarm is set for 5.30 am and the day dawns with a routine involving early morning wakeup, breakfast, dressing, packing their lunch and making their way to school in time for the 7.30 am bell which signifies the start of another school day. They spend the next 7 hours moving from lesson to lesson, with a short break or assembly in between.
Compulsory extra-mural afterschool activities often see the youngster arrive home in the late afternoon or early evening, just in time for a quick shower before dinner and then it’s time for homework or studying for that big test tomorrow.
Before bed, they may get the luxury of a little bit of downtime, perhaps a game of Fortnite on their PlayStation. At 10:30 pm it’s time to hit the hay in order to get enough sleep for another school day.
How much sleep do teenagers need?
According to research teens need 9 to 9½ hours of sleep per night - that’s an hour or so more than they needed at age 10. This is because teenagers go through a second developmental stage of cognitive maturation. Additional sleep supports their developing brain, as well as physical growth spurts. It also helps protect them from serious consequences like depression or anxiety.
Studies have shown that teens who get enough sleep feel the benefits to their physical and mental health, academic performance and beyond. Many parents have experienced difficulties in motivating their kids to wake up and go to school. This aversion from kids is very often dismissed and parents don’t consider that there could be an alternative education solution for their child. One that maximises their school day, puts less pressure on the child (and the parents) and most importantly motivates them to want to study.
What are the benefits of sufficient sleep and a late school start time?
Better mental and physical health
Adolescence is a crucial period for developing social and emotional habits important for mental well-being. These include adopting healthy sleep patterns, exercising regularly, developing coping mechanisms, problem-solving and interpersonal skills. Homeschooling helps avoid the problem of sleep deprivation which is a common issue that is often overlooked in teens. Sleep deprivation can impact a teen's mental well-being and increase their risk of depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Improved academic outcomes
The neural areas of the brain that govern emotional regulation and executive functions are sensitive to sleep deficiency. Studies have shown that sleep plays a critical role in knowledge retention, memory recall, executive functions, attention span, emotional regulation and mood. All of these are essential for academic success and mental health.
Reduced risk of accidents and injuries
Emerging results from studies have shown that lack of sleep can affect cognitive skills along with large and fine motor skills. This, when combined with the lack of concentration that accompanies sleep deprivation, contributes to the carelessness and risk-taking often associated with sports accidents and injuries. A child who has gotten enough sleep will anticipate and react to avoid an accident faster than one who is mentally exhausted from lack of sleep.
Less sluggishness and lethargy
Lethargy refers to a sense of fatigue and a lack of both mental and physical energy and motivation. A lethargic teen may feel unmotivated or have an indifferent attitude toward their daily learning activities. They often feel as though they are walking around in a haze or constant state of brain fog and do not have the energy to complete their normal tasks. Parents often see the sluggishness that accompanies lethargy as laziness. A lethargic, sleep-deprived teen (with homework to complete after a long day in a classroom) will slouch in the chair, lie on the desk and take twice as long to complete tasks. A homeschooler, who has enjoyed the required hours of sleep, will be alert and tackle the tasks with energy and vitality – giving them more time to explore activities that they enjoy.
It is vitally important that kids get enough sleep. Your child’s learning environment, sleep patterns and daily schedule will have lasting effects on their knowledge retention and attitude towards school. One of the major benefits of online homeschooling with CambriLearn is that it allows for more effective time management which leads to improved knowledge retention and motivation.