Clever back to school tips from 1909

Danielle Wiener-Bronner
Source: The New York Public Library

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On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement saying that high- and middle- schools should start no earlier than 8:30 am. Dr. Judith Owens, lead author of the AAP’s report, explains that "chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today." She adds, "studies have shown that delaying early school start times is one key factor that can help adolescents get the sleep they need to grow and learn."


This is not the first time that experts have considered the benefits of starting school later — the topic has been brought up around this time for the past few years. Until schools make the shift (the AAP notes that only 15 percent of schools start at 8:30 or later), the recommendation is less policy change and more back-to-school tip: sleep more, feel better.

That recommendation dates back at least 100 years.

According to an article titled, "Timely Hints for the School Girl Who Wants to Keep in the Best of Health” published on August 29, 1909, "no schoolgirl should be at her books after 10 o’clock… the sensible schoolgirl aims to manage her work so that she can go to bed by 10:30." That article has some other good tips, as well, and we think they might be useful for girls (and boys) going back to school in 2014.


Don’t munch on candy when your teacher is not looking:

"Few girls in vacation munch candy all day the way they do in Winter. It is the exceptional girl who does not have sweets of some sort in her desk to swallow hastily when teacher is not looking."


Don’t eat too much candy during recess, either:

"If too conscientious to eat in school, the self-sacrifice is more than made up at recess. Those recess feastings are responsible for more broken-down scholars than books ever were."


Limit your cream puff and pickle consumption:

"Let the ambitious girl who wants to get through her school year with honors beware how she stuffs pickles, cream puffs, sundaes and candy between meals."


Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Romp outside for an hour and a half every day:

"When children are young parents should make a point of having them romp outdoors at least an hour and a half each day, no matter how busy they are, nor how they growl that they will 'flunk next day.'"


Relax, a little:

"Relaxation is advisable for the schoolgirl. Not too much of it nor too often, but enough to keep her from getting in a rut or becoming a 'grind.'"


Enjoy your weekends:

"Girls should refuse invitations that will keep them out late at night during the school week; but Saturday, Friday evening, and Sunday should be kept as free of study and full of healthful pleasure as possible."


All images from the New York Public Library unless otherwise noted.

Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.

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