Do teens really need to “sleep in?” Though the Greenwich , CT Public Schools think so, the issue should be much more than the daily school starting time.
What has wreaked havoc on our teenagers’ bodies and emotional well being creating stress, anxiety and depression is the overloading of extracurriculars, academic study, volunteer, fitness, and social demands placed on our kids by both parents and educators. Some want their numbers to look good (How many graduates went on to college? How many Ivies?) and parents who want their children to succeed beyond everyone’s comfort level.
I say ENOUGH. Starting later is great but won’t have any effect unless we examine the demands we make on teens to perform and produce like superstars.
In Fairfield County, CT, we’ve created the emotional and physical exhaustion high school students feel. If the evening’s pressures, and the endless texting and FB postings aren’t under control at midnight, it really doesn’t matter what time school starts in the morning. Everyone’s in trouble. We need to manage our expectations of what we see as reasonable for our children to accomplish and engage in. It may be less than we hope, less than what we believe they are capable of, or less than needed for the colleges families aspire to have their child attend.
The good news, though, is our kids may be happier, have good memories of this time in their lives, and less conflict at home. They’ll also have to learn to self regulate their impulses, set better boundaries on what they take on and hence be better prepared for the independence of adulthood which lies just ahead. Just talk to the families of kids with serious emotional issues–stress, depression, anxiety, panic, self harm, or addiction. They’d give anything just to see their kid smile. The pressure just isn’t worth it. Sleep’s only a part of the picture.