Sunday, October 30, 2016

Parents: 3 Ways to Help Teens Improve Their Grades

As a parent, you are always looking for ways to improve the academic performance of your child. As a graduate student at Northwestern University and educational advocate, I have found two articles that highlight steps you can take to improve their performance.

In “Schools Are Slow to Learn That Sleep Deprivation Hits Teenagers Hardest (New York Times, March 29, 2016), Indiana University professor of pediatrics Aaron E. Carroll reports on a 2014 study that found an hour delay in a high school’s start time doubled the amount of students that got a full night’s sleep and led to marked academic improvements.

Photo Credit: Chattanooga Times Free Press
In “The Powerful Thing That Happens When the Sschool Day Starts in the Afternoon (Washington Post, August 5, 2016), reporter Jeff Guo tells the story of one school district in Europe that experimented with an afternoon start of the school day. The new schedule gave a surprising boost to boys’ grades. 

After reading these two articles and from my work as an educational advocate, here are three action items you and your schools can do tomorrow to help your children.
  • Push it back: Instituting later school start times can improve students’ academic performance.
  • Decrease homework: With so much on their plate, students are not getting to bed on time; schools can ease the evening workload by decreasing the amount of homework.
  • Sleep for performance: Families can play a key role in promoting sleep by smartly scheduling activities, developing a routine, and limiting use of electronics late at night.

With these changes our teens can get their much needed rest and get on the path to scholastic success.


Roger McMinn is a marketing professional, education advocate, and graduate student in Northwestern University’s Information Design and Strategy Program. You can follow him on Twitter @RogerMcMinn1.


  1. Makes good sense. Get those 💤.

  2. Agreed! My kids' bus picks them up at 6:50 am for an 8 am start. Most days I drive them in so they can get extra sleep.

  3. I was always exhausted in junior high because school started at 7:30.