When students earn a below average grade on a test or a report card, it does not necessarily mean that they did not study hard enough. There are many intelligent children who do not perform well in school, not because they cannot comprehend classroom lessons, but because of external factors that affect their academic success.
Lack of sleep means lack of attention
Waking up early for school has recently been acknowledged as a reason why students are not performing to the best of their ability. Sleepy students are less likely to pay attention to their teachers. The Washington Post published an article in 2006, which discusses a study regarding the start time of the majority of U.S. schools. Across the country, schools on average begin around 7 am. However, the study, led by a Brown University professor, discovered that students perform better later in the day for biological reasons. The article states that specific high schools that started later saw an improvement in their students’ academic achievement simply because they were able to wake up later.
NPR.org published a similar story in 2007. According to the article, in schools that started later in the day, less students fell asleep during first period and they paid more attention in class. Better attendance was also cited. Students need an efficient amount of sleep, about nine hours a night, to be more alert and engaged in the classroom.
Physical activity can improve student performance
The brain is sharpened with physical exercise in the same way muscles are strengthened. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study regarding the correlation of academic achievement and physical activity. In recent years, physical education class has either been decreased or eliminated entirely from schools. A little more than half of U.S. high school students, according to the study, reported to participate in physical education at least once a week, while 30 percent of high school students reported to participate daily.
Although the study emphasizes that removing physical education had little effect on students’ academic performance, research has shown that participating in after school sports decreased dropout rates, and there was a positive relationship between extracurricular physical activity and student grade point averages. Similar to sleep, daily physical activity improves attention and concentration in the classroom.
Friendships affect achievement in the classroom
The University of Oregon Child and Family Center conducted a study released in February that showed the effects of friendship and academic performance, and that the kinds of friendships formed during the middle school years mattered most. According to this study, students whose friends abide by the rules are more likely to succeed in school than their peers who associate with students who behave poorly. Students who did not associate themselves with defiant peers had higher GPAs than those who did. The conductors of the study insist parents and other adults, such as teachers, pay attention to the friendships being formed.