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Petition Opposes Start-Time Change

Elizabeth Henderson is heading a group of Barrington parents that opposes changing the school start times for all students; she is asking for your support by signing an online petition.

A group of about 20 Barrington families have launched a petition against changing school start times. Click here to see the petition.

Eizabeth Henderson, the mother of a second-grader at Primrose Hill School and a kindergarten pupil next fall, wrote and posted the petition on GoPetition.com two days ago on behalf of the 20 families. She is asking other families who oppose the change in school start times to sign it.

Barrington is considering changing start times to help boost the achievement of high school and middle school teens. Later starting times are believed to benefit teens dealing with sleep deprivation, which research indicates has a negative impact on academic and athletic performance.

Henderson believes "there are other ways" to get teens more sleep -- ways that may be even more effective without having an impact on every student in the Barrington schools. Parents are the key, she said.

"Parents need to take more responsibility," she said. "It's not the schools' job to get kids more sleep."

Henderson also questions whether changing the start time for teens might just be shifting sleep-deprivation to younger children.

"Is there any research on kids ages 6 to 11? "she said. "I think we need to see more research on younger kids."

Henderson said she got the idea for the petition after attending the recent community forum on school start times in the high school.

"I got concerned that it was just a dog-and-pony show," she said, "that the decision is already made."

The petition lists five specific reasons why the parents believe changing the school start times will actually have a negative impact on students.

It also lists other ways to handle sleep deprivation, such as managing children's activities, setting up consistent bed and wake times, keeping them away from caffeine and energy drinks, engaging them in stimulating activities during the early afternoon slump time, and creating downtimes before bedtime so teens can fall asleep easier.

Teens also need to be taught to cope with a world that is 24/7, according to the petition. Having consistent routines and managing extracurricular activities is a better way to help teens cope, grow and succeed, the petition states.

You can sign the petition until the end of April, Henderson said. It does require you to give your name and email address. You can make comments as well.

Henderson plans to download the results of the petition and present it to the School Committee in May.

JJMom February 11, 2012 at 10:22 AM
First, teens and toddlers do not need the same amount of sleep. Toddlers need at least 2 to 4 hours more. Also note that with the proposed school start time changes, the elementary students will then be the ones "out in the dark cold." You can't disregard the sleep, safety, and family's lives of the younger students.
JJMom February 11, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Parents of "younger children", I ask you, what percentage of your "younger children" awake naturally by 6 am and can be "made" to go to bed by 7, as Ms. Holmes states? Hahahaha... My husband would never see his kids as he gets home at 7. And believe it or not, some parents who both work, are still either helping their elementary school children finish homework or studying for spelling tests or getting in their required reading time at 7pm. It's obvious the town has not thought this through. If you have to alter all the school's schedules for this change, which does not even guarantee benefits, there best be a lot more thought put into it for the families whose schedules will be disrupted and the younger students who will now be losing sleep.
JJMom February 11, 2012 at 11:02 AM
Changing an entire town's schools' start times, when the benefit is not guaranteed, since as Dr Millman said, the high schoolers would still have to go to bed at the same time or earlier to reap the benefits, is the same as putting your child in a car seat. That is just silly. And here is a compelling reason to not change the hours, the non-high school students and their families whose schedules and sleep patterns will be totally disrupted by the change.
Christina February 16, 2012 at 04:07 PM
Thank you Maribel, As a parent with children preschool through middle school age, I completely agree with you, and I have the exact same concerns.
Manifold Witness February 16, 2012 at 05:26 PM
Read the studies and decide for yourself whether they are a convincing “scientific” basis upon which to argue for later school start times. Note the scope, the duration, the conditions, the methods, whether there were actual measurable improvements in test scores and grades, whether any academic tests were even administered – or was there just speculation as to what the tests might show had they been administered? Note compilations of previous "studies", etc. Note what they leave out as well. The impact of consistent sleep patterns, including weekends. Note how short some of the “studies” are – two weeks?. With sleep times changing for only one week. These studies may not sufficiently “scientific” to convince us. Read them & tell us what you think.

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