Chicago Tribune

Later start times, less homework: Here's what elite schools are doing to help students cope with stress

BARRINGTON, Ill. - Claire Buckley's day started before dawn.

Each morning, she would dress, gather her gear and leave her Barrington home to catch a 6 a.m. bus to her destination - not to a job in downtown Chicago, but as a freshman in high school.

"These days we're asking of our teens what very few adults are required to do," said Claire's mother, Melissa Buckley.

After watching her normally good-natured daughter return home from school each day exhausted, Melissa Buckley joined a Barrington High School advisory committee that proposed a later morning start time for students. After nearly two years of tweaking, the school board approved the change last year, and it kicked off in August. This year, Claire will get an extra 90 minutes of sleep each morning.

Buckley said she hopes the later start time is a step toward alleviating teens' sleep deprivation - just one of myriad factors experts say could be fueling an uptick in student stress and anxiety.

From Lake Forest High School on the North Shore to west suburban Hinsdale Central High School, school districts are launching an ever-expanding slate of methods for preventing and addressing what some are calling dangerous levels of school-related teen anxiety. Some of the volleys are targeted, like the move in Barrington, at proven problems. Others look to more esoteric ways at reducing stress. There are therapy dogs and meditation sessions, peer counseling and yoga classes.

The only option apparently not on the table? Doing nothing.


In addition to later start times

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