Your opinion: Should Singapore schools start 45 minutes later?

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Nanyang Girls High (NYGH) now starts only at 8:15 am, 45 minutes late. Should all Singapore schools start later? Let us know in our poll!

We have been hearing it for a while now. Recent studies by the Duke-NUS Medical School reveal that 80 % of Singapore teenagers from top schools DON’T get enough sleep.

Apparently, most Singapore teens surveyed said that they had less than 6 hours of sleep a night, a far cry from the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep. So why is sleep so important?

Professor Michael Chee, director of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience at Duke-NUS, has been quoted by Channel NewsAsia as saying, “Sleep plays a major role in memory consolidation and learning. If you don’t sleep, it is like building a sandcastle and then have the tide take it out.”

“There are cumulative declines in your vigilance, speed of processing, executive function – all of which are fundamental cognitive processes around which all other bits of cognition are built.”

Did you also know that when children enter into their teen years, there is a shift in their preferred sleep time? According to Dr. Chee, “Your biological clock shifts when you go into your teen years, you start having a preferred sleep time that’s about one hour later. And this tends to shift back when you reach young adulthood.”

And now, one school has gone the extra mile. Since last year, students at Nanyang Girls High (NYGH) have been starting school at 8.15 am – a good 45 minutes later than most secondary schools!

Advantages of starting school later

NYGH tweaked its schedule and curriculum from the second semester of 2016, hoping that the extra sleep time would benefit its students. They also made sure that the girls wouldn’t have to end school later.

Already, the school has noticed a change in the energy level of its students. NYGH chemistry teacher Mr Muhammad Imran told Channel NewsAsia, “The girls might not be necessarily excited about the lesson but at least they’re excited even before the lesson starts – and that makes it a lot easier for everyone, not just the teachers but for students to be more comfortable.”

Students have also reported being able to focus better and having energy for their CCA after classes. Parents feel they now have more time to bond with their children over breakfast, before heading off to school and work.

PHOTO: FACEBOOK / NANYANG GIRLS HIGH

But are there drawbacks?

Why are parents complaining?

Not every parent is in favour of this late school timing. NUS Computer Science Associate Professor Ben Leong expressed strong disapproval for the move in his Facebook post. He writes, “I think it is a really poorly conceived idea. How much people get to sleep is the difference between when they go to bed and when they get up. The girls can get more sleep by going to bed earlier.”

Then he also talks about how it would affect the work schedules of parents and the morning rush hour, “Morning rush hour traffic is currently a bloody disaster. How we have managed to keep things more or less under control is to effectively have two “shifts”. First the kids go to school and then office worker rush begins.”

Needless to say, his post drew extreme reactions from netizens.

Another chief parental concern is, “Are students really going to use the extra time to sleep?” Mum of 2, and Polytechnic lecturer Sherlin Giri, has this to say, “Starting school late may help, but a heavy academic workload is simply going to see this extra ‘sleep-in’ time filled in with last minute catching up on assignments and deadlines.”

“At the poly where I work, students are still sleep deprived due to assignment deadlines and projects. And we start at 9am.”

“There has to be some kind of education on the importance of sleep and, as I’d like to add above that, time management education among teens. That being said, there’s still the demon of electronic distractions to battle.”

What is your opinion, parents? Should Singapore schools start later? Let us know in the poll below:

(Source: Channel NewsAsia)

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