A post by Kris over at Simple Homeschool called Why We Don't Start School at 8:00 AM caught my eye. It appears there is a quiet sub-culture of homeschoolers out there who don't get up at the crack of dawn, but rather are happily snoozing in their warm beds while the big yellow buses are gathering up their charges and the car pool lines are winding around the neighborhood schools, and not starting school until 10am, or 11am, or - gasp! - after lunch!!
Who knew? Who knew there were other families like us?
Those of us who grew up attending traditional schools ( virtually everyone over age 30 and the vast majority of those younger) know that school starts between 8am and 9am. In high school, I had to catch the school bus at 7am, which meant I was up at 5:30am so that my siblings and I could shower, get dressed, and eat before heading out the door. Didn't matter if it was pouring rain. Didn't matter if you were up after midnight the night before finishing homework. Didn't matter if you had a cold or sore throat. School was inflexible and ruled by alarm clocks, bells, and schedules.
Some homeschoolers duplicate that schedule in their homes. For those with young children and naturally early risers, that probably works great! I know families who are all up and ready for the day at 5am, doing devotions and algebra with Dad before he leaves for work at 7am. When my children were all little, we were up at 7 or 7:30, and starting school by 8:30 or 9, after morning routines, breakfast, and chores.
For some though, getting up early is a struggle, and studies show that most teens do not get adequate sleep as the need for sleep increases in adolescence.
It is hard to break old habits, and even harder when societal pressure tells you that you are doing something wrong if you do. But letting your teens sleep later is actually a good thing. Our family schedule changed as my children got older. We tend to be night owls, and staying up late meant I also let my kids sleep late in the morning. It just made sense to me. My 13-yr-old typically gets up anywhere between 9am and 11am, so on most days he starts schoolwork around 10am, sometimes later. That is what works for us!
Will this cripple him later on, making him incapable of using an alarm clock and getting up for early college classes or a job? No. Really. All my kids have made the transition to early morning rising when required, are very diligent workers, and have not been scarred because they were allowed to sleep late as teen-agers.
Flexibility and individuality - these are two of the great things about being a homeschooler. So if your family's routine doesn't match up with someone else's, that's okay! If you are Early to Bed, Early to Risers, that's great! If you are Night Owls and late risers, super! No need to apologize! Instead, be thankful for the freedom we have to live and educate according to our own needs, convictions, and preferences. And do it all to the best of your ability, to the glory of God. :-)