Sleep issues and zero-period music for 6th grader

Hi all,

My son plays clarinet in the 6th-grade band at King middle school. He has always loved music, but the zero period schedule is killing him (and us). He has a really hard time going to sleep early, even when he does all the right things (a regular bedtime routine, no screens, etc), and an even harder time waking up in time to get to music on time. Lately he has also been having sleep terrors in the middle of the night, which may or may not be related to the early wake up, but it certainly doesn't help things.

Any tips from parents whose kids had similar trouble with zero period? I know that there's been a lot of research showing that adolescents need more sleep and are often naturally on a late schedule, so I'm wondering if we need to acknowledge that this is a physical/developmental barrier and not laziness, and just give up on zero period. But I also really hate for him to quit something he loves. (We don't really have extra money to spare for private music lessons, though I suppose we could try to scrape something together.)


Parent Replies

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The zero period is exactly why my 6th grade son gave up his musical instrument this year. We knew that waking up that early wouldn’t work for him, especially since our older child (who is a morning person) did it a few years ago and it barely worked for her.

Being at school at 7:40 is not developmentally appropriate for teens/preteens. There’s science that shows why and schools are starting to slowly adjust their schedules to be more accommodating of the healthy sleep requirements for kids in this age range, but they’re not all there yet.

You are sacrificing your son's entire school day for the sake of zero period music. This isn't worth it even if he is completely impassioned by the school's musical experience. 

Check out this website for reasonably priced private half-hour music lessons:

This teacher doesn't push kids to practice, but he encourages them to play music.  However, at home, by requiring my daughter to play 30 minutes most days, she is now an accomplished musician after eight years. 

It's worth the $$ sacrifice if you can scrape it together. High school will offer your son more opportunities other than zero period.