Big Foot homecoming parade 2018 - 6

Abby Peterson, a senior at Big Foot High School, smiles while riding in a pickup truck last fall during the school’s homecoming parade in Walworth. (File photo/Regional News)

When it comes to keeping children healthy, it is hard to argue with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

We are glad to see that Big Foot High School administrators agree.

We applaud Big Foot for implementing a later start time for its school day so that students can catch some extra sleep in the morning.

We hope other schools around here will do the same.

The American Academy of Pediatrics created quite a stir a few years ago when the academy called for later start times for all middle school and high school students.

Because teenagers need extra sleep to keep their fast-growing bodies strong and alert, the Chicago-based physicians organization determined that school administrators should not require kids to report for class before 8:30 a.m. each day.

That is quite a change for some schools — Big Foot included — that currently ring the attendance bell at 7:30 a.m., or even earlier.

The issue has riled parents in some communities because changing start times at school can mess up the daily routine for working parents, for school buses, for after-school activities, and so on.

Not only that, schools traditionally have required children to be early risers, dragging themselves out of bed looking all bleary-eyed and groggy. That was how their parents and grandparents did it, right? So why is that not good enough for today’s kids?

The answer is simple: We know more today about keeping children healthy. Science has advanced. And so has our understanding of the human body.

Since the American Academy of Pediatrics issued its groundbreaking recommendation in 2014, others lining up in agreement have included the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, to name a few.

The choice for schools is clear: Stick with tradition and avoid a little inconvenience, or accept the scientific facts and take steps to improve the health of your students.

Big Foot School Board members have done the right thing by agreeing to give students a break. Starting in the fall, classes at Big Foot will begin at 7:45 a.m. rather than 7:25 a.m.

We would have liked to see a more dramatic change to 8 a.m. or 8:30. But at least this is a move in the right direction.

Those extra 20 minutes of sleep will add up fast and will pay real benefits for Big Foot kids. Over the course of a month, it is more than six hours of extra sleep. For the school year, it adds up to more than 50 hours of sleep.

We applaud Big Foot school officials, and we encourage parents and others in the Big Foot district to embrace this change.

The inconveniences and logistical challenges can be overcome. Nothing is more important than putting our children’s health first.

We urge school officials in Lake Geneva, Williams Bay and elsewhere to do the same for their kids.