The time has come, for earlier start times

Students struggle to get up on school mornings. Photo by Shutterstock

Students struggle to get up on school mornings. Photo by Shutterstock

By Althea Ericksen and Lily Hallett

“The first three weeks of school were really hard,” Megan Curran, mom of two elementary kids said.

This year Dearborn Park Elementary School changed their start time from 8:40 to 7:50. The earlier start time was set by Seattle Public Schools after studies showed younger children have more energy in the mornings.

However Curran says it’s been a challenging adjustment, forcing the kids to have to go to bed much earlier.

While Curran says this is working better with her family, for others families the change has been very difficult she said. Many families who have children are in different grades have different start times making it much harder to get there kids to school.

“Half of Olivia’s first grade class is there on time,” Curran said. This causes a serious stress for the teacher who can’t start class on time because so many of their students are absent. The kids that are late feel bad about being late but being they are only in elementary school they have little control over when they get to school.

Curran has been mindful of the affect the time change has on her two kids. She tries to have them in after-school care only four days a week and schedule them to have play dates as well. She wants them to be able to still have “spontaneous” play dates or outdoor time after school.

Another big problem Curran and her son Otis, a third grader at Dearborn Elementary have faced is his after school activities. Otis plays Seattle United soccer two nights a week. Megan says those nights are especially hard because when he gets home he has to finish his homework, eat dinner, shower and be in bed by eight thirty so he gets enough rest for school.

Another Seattle mom, Trisha Matheau, also has some opinions on the new elementary start time.

Matheau’s two children, third grader, Neve, and fifth grader, Ian attend Olympic View Elementary and have been struggling adjusting to the new start times as well.

Trisha states, “Ian is very difficult to get out of bed before seven, and that’s basically what we are doing.”

Trisha explains that the only way they can make this new schedule work is because she works at home.

“They are walking home now, and we had to get them a phone so they can text me” Matheau said, “If I didn’t work at home, we would have to put them in after school care and that’s very expensive.”

Trisha says that the earlier start time for her family has been an “okay” thing, only because Ian is old enough to look after his sister after school. But overall, Matheau adds that it has been a “relatively negative thing in the fact that if I did not work from home, it would’ve been really expensive for us, and if they were younger we would have had to find another solution.”

Trisha points out a problem that a lot of elementary school parents have with the different scheduling times of the elementary schools and the high/middle schools.

“There are no high school or junior high schools students available for child care because of the way that its staggered, which is unfortunate. It would’ve helped out a lot of  elementary school parents, and been a great way for teens to make some money. But this is not even an option in the district.”


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