Some schools in Dubai choose to start late in the morning so that students, especially teenagers, can get more sleep.
UAE students should normally arrive at school between 7am and 7:30am.
Principals of schools that advocate for a delayed start say that punctuality, attendance and well-being improved after students got more sleep.
When Bloom World Academy opened in August 2022, it was one of the first schools in the city to offer classes from 9am to 4pm, an hour longer than most schools in the emirate. Class started later than usual.
Dubai British School Jumeirah Park has changed its start time from 7:30am to 8:15am in August 2022.
Rebecca Coulter, the school’s principal, said she received feedback that classes were starting too early, and after consulting with parents, decided to delay the start.
“Everyone struggled with that early start. We’re getting more creative about how we use our time at school, so we’ve played around with class, break and lunch times,” Ms Coulter said. Told.
“We have seen a positive impact on the health of our students, especially high school students.
“There’s been a lot of research done on the teenage brain and the best time for kids to come to school, and that’s part of it. We gathered evidence and opinions from our students.”
“Since we started later, we have seen an increase in the number of students opting for extracurricular activities.”
Currently, school days are from 8:15 am to 3:30 pm.
Bloom World Academy offers a 9am start — in the photo
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that poor sleep is common among high school students and is associated with health risks such as obesity, alcohol, tobacco and drug use, and poor academic performance.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high school start no later than 8:30 a.m. so that students can get enough sleep.
Jumeirah Bacalorea School moved to a later school day in August 2021 and has seen improvements in punctuality.
Previously, students were required to be at school by 7:30 and the first class started at 7:45 am. As of August 2021, students will be required to be at school at 8:15 am. Yes, the first class is at 8:30 am.
Younger students finish at 2:50pm and 11th and 12th grades finish at 3:30pm.
The school’s vice-principal, Erica Elkadi, said the initiative is meant to boost well-being by helping children get more sleep.
“Data from the Dubai Student Welfare Survey showed that sleep is actually a significant concern and that students are not getting enough sleep,” she said.
She added that some students think they sleep on weekends and stay up late on weekdays.
“Studies show that sleep is very important for development,” she said.
“Parents give us feedback that it starts the day very calmly. It’s less rushed and chaotic in the house and the whole family can have breakfast.”
The school had to obtain permission from the Office of Knowledge and Human Development before rescheduling.
Improved punctuality and attendance at school
Ms. Elkadi said sleep-deprived students often become moody and argue.
“We started looking at sleep research and what we could do better, which is why we decided to start later,” she said.
“In fact, we feel that our punctuality data, attendance data, and behavior management have greatly improved.”
For Khadeeja AlShirawi, a Grade 11 Emirati student at Jumeirah Baccalaureate School, the late start time means he can have breakfast and pray with his family before starting the day.
“I remember not wanting to get up in the morning because it was too early. I might have had to complete some assignments before going to bed,” she said.
“I came to school tired and could not concentrate in class.
“Now that I think about it, I think the later timing made me more energetic. When I wake up, I have time to do a few things at home before I go to school.
“Overall, I think my energy and the way I interact with my peers and teachers is much more positive than before.”
Students added that the late start time improved their sleep schedule.
“I feel a lot less sleepy than I used to. Sometimes I was so tired that I had to take a nap after school,” she said.
“But now I feel like I have the energy to do it all, and my sleep schedule isn’t disrupted.”
Update: Jan 3, 2023, 5:00 AM