Long before I ever had Caroline, I read a book called Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days: Share a Day With 30 Homeschooling Families. (This was also pre-homeschool blogs for the most part!) The book gave a day-in-the-life story of thirty different homeschool families. The families varied widely in curriculum, size, location, etc. But one thing I took away from that book that meshed with my own personality was the fact that the morning is the critical time to get moving. Even if you start later in the morning, you need to do school in the morning. Even if you school in the afternoon too, you have to get going in the morning.
So I carried that expectation with me after I had Caroline. We would get busy on our school work and then have the rest of the day free. With only one child it was very conceivable that we could finish all of our formal schoolwork in just a few hours in the morning. And it fit so well with Charlotte Mason’s ideas which I also found appealing.
Except Caroline isn’t ready to do school in the morning.
She’s my spirited little dreamer child.
And her mind is way too full of imaginative things to even consider settling down to any kind of formal work in the morning.
I tried. I truly did. But it got later and later in the morning before she was “ready” to start school. And she honestly wasn’t trying to give me a rough time. I finally realized that if she didn’t get all of her imaginative creativity out of her head and body, she simply could not focus on school work. It wasn’t that she wouldn’t focus. She truly could not.
I finally decided to just give up my ideal of schooling in the morning. Now we have play time in the morning, lunch and THEN we sit down to do learning things together. We’re still done by mid-afternoon and life is good. She’s gotten the busy wiggles out and has had time to act on all the creative ideas that start running through her head literally as soon as her eyes pop open in the morning. The vast majority of the time she’s very cooperative and ready to start after lunch.
I also found this recent article interesting since Caroline is also a bit of a night owl: Night Owls Smarter: A New Study Suggests That Late-to-Bed-Late-To-Rise Leads to Greater Workplace Success. One of the things David and I had to come to grips with after becoming parents was our early to bed and early to rise routine was no longer going to work. Caroline is a late to bed and late to rise person. It was either fight it and all be miserable or adapt. We chose to adapt and found that we can work just as well this way. I actually like staying up late and working after she goes to bed. My problem is I still fight the mindset I’ve always had that the day is won or lost by 10:00 a.m. I simply cannot think that way any longer because at that time we’ve barely started our day most days.
Is there a child in your home who would benefit from a later start? How do you accommodate the different needs in your homeschool?