Lately, there have been discussions that school day in Dubai should start later. Even though parents are given the chance to voice their opinion on the school timings, there is no unanimity among society. That is why we decided to inform you on the matter, as well as to shed some light on the possible consequences of adopting the revised school timings from 9am to 3.30pm.
The issue of school timing does not exist only in Dubai or the UAE. Actually, it is not yet reported that in Abu Dhabi or elsewhere in the emirates educators discuss the issue at ll. The school timing is a topic discussed all over the world, especially in the US. Before the new millennium, many education institutes used to start school day as yearly as 7am. However, towards the end of the 1990s, many states decided to adopt later school timings. That was due to the wide-spread belief that kids, particularly teenagers, could enjoy more sleeping hours and improve their school performance by starting school between 8.30am and 9.30am. Nevertheless, the result of this new school schedule was less effective than initially thought.
The Minneapolis Case
A research conducted by Georgetown University focused on the effects of late school times in the city of Minneapolis. Around 1997 and 1998, schools in the area switched from 7.15am – 1.45pm school days to 8.40am – 3.10pm ones. This hour-and-a-half difference may seem small for some, but it greatly influenced the lives of students, teachers and parents.
School Performance Showed Only a Slight Improvement
It is generally believed that starting school early prevents students from getting enough sleep, as well as concentrating during the first few lessons. However, the case in Minneapolis speaks otherwise. Even though, the school performance of some students did improve during the later school days, it was not really that significant. Moreover, in some areas students’ scores decreased. That was the situation with ATC tests which are standard US tests for college admissions and high school achievement. Georgetown University’s research discovered that back in 1995, when school began at 7.15am, the average score at this test was over 20.6. In contrast, in 2001, when school days started at 8.40am, results dropped to less than 19.6 points. Such outcome actually could be even more dangerous for students in Dubai, whose performance remains bellow international average, according the local regulator update.
In addition, pupils with later school timings obtained the same amount of sleep hours as they had during earlier ones. That was because they went to bed with an hour or two later than they used to. In other words, the problem of student sleep deprivation was not a result of early school days but of the bad sleep habits of the kids.
Increased Nightly Homework Hours
Another negative effect of the late school timing was that students did not have enough time to complete their homework during the bright part of the day. As a consequence, kids had to work in the early and even the late evenings in order to prepare for the next day. Contrary to the expectations, they actually enjoyed less free time than it was initially thought.
Little Time for After-School Activities
After the school timing revision in Minneapolis, students had less time for after-school activities like sports, music classes and language courses. Simply put, later school timing may force many kids to intentionally drop out of these activities if they want to complete their obligatory school tasks.
Increased Stress in Students, Teachers and Parents
Stress levels in all of these groups increased when school days were moved to 8.40am. Students and teachers had to stay at school later in the day. That left them with less time for recreation and leisure activities. That was especially the case with teens which traditionally have a greater need to socialize. Parents on the contrary were not able to go to work on time. According to the report, that was due to conflicts with family transportation, bus schedules, as well as their own job schedules. Most parents were found to be unable to take their kids to school or to even attend them in the mornings since they started work at earlier hours. Can you imagine, your kids to have to wake up by themselves, dress up, eat breakfast and wait for the buss on time?
Although there were some positive effects of late school times in Minneapolis, like rise in attendance and reduced morning traffic, they were still less than the negative ones. That is why introducing a new school timings in Dubai should be discussed after acquiring an extra knowledge on the topic. If a new schedule needs to be adopted, this should happen gradually and not overnight. Only then will society have the time to reorganize its daily and work habits.