What time does school start?
How many hours a day should I be teaching my five-year-old? What about my teen?
We’re so far off the schedule, I’m afraid we’ll never catch up.
Getting stressed over the homeschool schedule seems to be a common thread among homeschopl moms. In my own life, I spend about half the time worried that we’re behind, that we haven’t covered enough, or that I’m failing because we started our day at 10:30 instead of 8:00 am.
In reality, though, homeschooling is beautiful and perfect because of its flexibility. It can change to perfectly fit every family and can even change day to day – without losing one drop of success!
Currently, my husband is working 60 hours a week on a 6pm to 6am schedule. At first I hated it. I cried, I yelled, I told him to please ask for a transfer back to days.
I thought the kids and I should still be getting up early and having school in the mornings like we used to (like normal people do). But on the weekends, we’d stay up later with Dad and sleep until mid morning. Constantly adjusting and readjusting our wake-up times was not working at all. Can someone say stressed-out, sleep-deprived mommy?
But wouldn’t we be messing up somehow, missing something very important if we stopped schooling in the morning? After all, that’s when the public schools do it. (Not to mention all the uber successful homeschool moms who get up at 5am, pray, exercise, have breakfast on the table by 6:30, and keep a spotless house. Don’t I want to be like them . . . at least a little bit?)
Well, no! We won’t miss out at all by making our homeschool schedule fit our family. We’re now having school after my husband leaves for work – we start around 6:30 pm and finish by 9:30 or 10. Then we watch a couple videos and go to bed about midnight.
I will say it proudly: My kids and I sleep until 11am most mornings and eat breakfast at noon or even 1pm. I let them play on the computer before school, sometimes even before breakfast.
And we’re doing fine. Our school time is going great – the boys actually love this new routine. Here’s a big secret: they’re still learning.
Sickness & Family Emergencies
Even with perfectly normal work schedules, everyone benefits from the flexibility of homeschooling. Take sickness, for example . . .
Can you schedule the next time a stomach bug hits your house? How about the next time one of your kids wakes up with a fever? Or Mom has a splitting headache?
Of course not.
But with homeschooling, those times of sickness can be taken in stride – as long as you keep an open mindset. For my own family, I purposely build extra days into our schedule to give us “wiggle room” for these times of sickness and any other situation that arises. A couple ways that I do this:
- We have a full school schedule four days a week with Friday being a light day. We can use it to catch up on anything we’ve missed through the week (or last week . . . or the week before . . . )
- We also continue homeschooling on all those public school holidays like Presidents Day, Columbus Day, Election Day, and all the teacher in-service days that our district has. This gives me at least a dozen “wiggle days” that I can take off when we need to.
We handle family emergencies the same way – whether they happen at home or at a relative’s house, whether they’re physical or emotional. Some time ago, when my grandmother broke her hip, the kids and I spent several days with her and did no school lessons. Instead, we just took care of her and spent time loving her. I wouldn’t trade those couple weeks for any amount of official school!
When emotional or behavioral issues come up with my sons, we call off school and focus on the issue. This usually involves lots of talking and one-on-one attention or maybe an activity away from home to break the mundane. So we missed a day of lessons? In the long run, it’s truly not a problem.
If you’re currently trying to match your homeschool days to the public school schedule, I encourage you to break out of the box and set your own routine instead. You deserve to benefit from all the flexibility that homeschooling offers – embrace it!
Cindy and her husband, Jon, live in beautiful West Virginia with their three sons – Nick, age 12, James, age 8, and Robert, age 5. They homeschool with a relaxed, eclectic style and enjoy reading great books together as a family, geocaching, and visiting historic and scenic places. Along with knitting, baking, and working crossword puzzles, Cindy loves geography and is the author of Expedition Earth: My Passport to the World. Visit her blog at Fenced in Family.