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Early to bed, be well read

Before schools tinker with later start times as advised by pediatrics experts, perhaps getting students to go to bed earlier should be tried. Ben Franklin would have approved.

Published: Friday, Sept. 5, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that middle and high schools start classes later in the morning so students could get more sleep.

We were gratified to hear Tad Everett, superintendent of the Sterling School District, channel his inner Ben Franklin as he responded to a reporter’s question.

“If kids went to bed 30 minutes earlier, there would be no need for us to start school 30 minutes later,” Everett said.

“Kids could get more sleep if they went to bed earlier.”

Franklin, the 18th-century American statesman, inventor and almanac editor, would heartily agree.

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” Franklin wrote.

The same proverb ought to apply to students, although pediatrics doctors seemed to imply that trying to get 21st-century pupils to go to bed early enough to get the recommended 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep is highly unlikely.

Franklin would scoff at that.

“Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to gain leisure,” he wrote.

In other words, students should not put off their studies on school nights until the wee hours of the morning, then groggily complain that they didn’t get enough sleep.

Multiple distractions – extracurricular activities, sports, jobs, social networking, texting, instant messaging, TV, movies, music, even household chores – pull at young people’s time, making it difficult to find a balance between studies and sleep.

But prioritizing is a skill that young people need to acquire.

Adjusting to the “real world” schedule also is a valuable lesson.

Parental guidance certainly should come into play regarding teens’ sleep schedules, so they may derive the most from their educational careers.

“Genius without education is like silver in the mine,” Franklin wrote.

Well-rested students have a better chance to extract the most “silver” possible and, indeed, become “healthy, wealthy and wise.”

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