Homeschooling Relaxed Homeschooling Right Brained Learners

Why I Homeschool in the Afternoon and Not the Morning

Why I Homeschool in the Afternoon and Not the Morning 2

Post may contain affiliate links to materials I recommend. Read my full disclosure statement.

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 homeschooling in the morning. Even if you also homeschool in the afternoon, 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. We have definitely ended up relaxed homeschoolers.

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?

Why I Homeschool in the Afternoon and Not the Morning

59 Comments

Click here to post a comment

 

  • With the exception of Bible time, we do all of our schooling in the afternoon – from about 1-5PM. My oldest daughter has a health issue that requires a good chunk of the morning to take care of each day, so we do it out of necessity – but I’ve found that it’s really best for all of us that way. I could have decided to try to cram some school in every morning before I take care of E, but we would all be miserable.

    Over at my blog I shared both our morning and afternoon routines, and they ended up being two of my most popular posts. I don’t know many other moms who school in the afternoon, and I get the sense that some would benefit so much from the freedom of knowing it’s an option for the kids who need it!

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • I thought the same things and read the same things. Mornings are best your day is lost without the morning. Mornings suck the life out of us! I thought this would work with my girl being an early riser but she just doesn’t want to do stuff early one and well as a night owl neither do I. Give me late morning or afternoon and we are all happier for it.

  • My husband worked 2pm-midnight or 2am for 11 years in the military so we have been a late to bed/late to rise family for the whole 10 years we have been married. When I first started homeschooling my son we did our schooling after our supper. Day time was daddy time and we didn’t mess with that. Then my husband became a supervisor and moved to days..talk about a shock to the system..lol. My husband is naturally a night owl as are both of my boys. I am naturally a morning person, but I’ve learned to adapt and we now do most of our schooling in the afternoon while the baby naps and before daddy comes home from work. Mornings are play/chores/errand time. It’s nice to see there are other families like us 🙂

  • What if it’s the mother who can’t begin first thing in the morning? {blush} I sound much like your daughter. I cannot seem to function well until about 2 hours after I wake up.

    My mind is simply not ready to engage in school and thinking of that magnitude yet. I have our schedule set to begin at 9am, but we really don’t start until about 10am. I think I am going to give myself permission to change the school schedule to begin closer to 10am and use the morning hours for Bible reading/journaling and maybe allowing the older children to begin something independent. Thanks for this!

  • This is really fun to see other moms who homeschool outside the traditional morning time. I think there are plenty of us out there, but perhaps we aren’t so quick to admit it publicly since it seems like it goes against the standard grain of how “good” homeschoolers do it. That just goes to show you that every family is unique and has to find what works for them – both mom and children! 🙂

  • I just found your blog and have enjoyed reading a few posts today. Thanks for posting this! My children rise early and get going with all of their creative ideas. There’s no way I can rein them in to do formal lessons in the morning! And I’m not a morning person at all. I prefer to sleep until I wake up naturally, then enjoy breakfast and tea and reading time. I’ve finally come to terms with not being able to “school” in the mornings. We start around 11:00, break for lunch, and finish up in early afternoon. I’m glad to know there are others who do this, too!

  • Hi Jeni,

    Isn’t it funny how the creative ones just hit the ground running and need to get it all out? LOL! I can see how our home life is so much better since we just let go of those expectations, but a tiny part of me still is tempted to feel like we shouldn’t be “playing” we should be “learning” in the morning! But playing IS learning for the little ones and they will be so much better off for the experience! 🙂

  • We do too!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I homeschool my 8 year old dyslexic son in the afternoon. My middle two go to a Montessori preschool in the afternoons and my 20 month old naps. Perfect time for us. I do a little bit in the morning – read alouds and such but mostly in the afternoon. Love it!

  • How does this relate to the working world when they grow up????? I think it’s great to use the flexibility of home school, but eventually they’ll have to adapt to 9-5??? Or maybe not????

    • They adapt if and when necessary. My son is 19, a natural night owl, and adapted to going to work at 5:30am with no problem. In fact, he still is a night owl but naps when he gets home from work, so he basically splits his sleep into 2 halves.

  • HI Elizabetta,

    I would liken it to college students who refuse to take 8:00 or 9:10 classes. They know it doesn’t work for them so they don’t do it. Eventually they find a way to work in the real world when life demands it.

    • Not everyone works a 9 to 5 job either. Many doctors and nurses work shift work and my husband always worked shiftwork in the military. It’s a reminder that one size doesn’t fit all. 🙂

  • What a great post!! So thankful to know that we are not the only ones! My daughter gets up, gets a snack, and goes outside or just plays around the house. We definitely don’t start before 10. Most times after lunch. It works for us but it’s not an easy thing to discuss with others who do it the “right way”.

  • Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for this post! I have been feeling alone as a homeschoolers in that I have an only child, and we are also night owls. Every day I felt like a failure when we started late in the day. We get the same amount done as my early rising friends, it’s just in a different time slot. This post was a timely gift from God at a time when I was struggling.

  • Jimi and Ashley – I’m so glad you were both encouraged by this post!

    The whole point of homeschooling our children is to do what works best for them and us! There certainly is no “rule” about the best time to do learning so we should all do whatever works best for us. 🙂

  • Kristen,

    Welcome! It’s always great to meet another mom with children who thrive a little later in the day. I hope you will stop by often! 🙂

  • Finally!
    First of all, I finally found another Mom who only homeschools one child that’s a girl.
    Secondly, I finally found another Mom who came to the same conclusion as I did with my daughter.
    I realized I had to do the same thing with my daughter. I really love this blog post, because I thought I was the only one who started later in the day. Thank you and I will be totally subscribing.

  • I’m so glad I’m not alone! I have two close friends that homeschool and they both start their school day at 8 am! This is my first year homeschooling, so naturally, I thought we had to start early, too. And it was awful! My boys don’t even wake up until closer to nine. We still do our Bible time right after breakfast, but everything else waits until after lunch. My two year old is napping then so it’s really the best time for us to get a lot of work done with minimal interruptions. This post has really encouraged me to continue doing what works for us! Thank you!

  • Yes I have two boys 6 & 8 who get put to bed most nights by 9-10 but still get in the bed and have their talk time which last for another hour sometimes more. On most mornings they woke before 9 and are a ball of energy let’s not forget Hammer the lab/shepherd mix which sums up playful is ready to play. For the last week I have been allowing them to wake on their and just go which leads to the house sounding like a train is running and the football team just walked in Lol. They are running up and down the hallway throwing the dogs toy the dog running up and down the hallway barking chasing the boys. They may go in their room with lots of banging laughing barking going on, this last til about 11:00. Then I’ll say Let’s get a few lessons in and they sit right now and get started as Hammer lays and nap of the couch Lol. Just say my mornings are not made for starting school in the mornings tried that and it leads to unhappy little boys and a unhappy Hammer who is going to take pencils bite at the boys feet bite at their toes all because he wants to play. All for afternoon school days!!

  • Thank You-this is the first time I have come across this concept with another Homeschooler. My son is 10 years old, and I find that we need 2-3 days a week with no outside the home (driving somewhere) scheduled activity, so that our mornings flow gently into early afternoon lessons time.

    • Exactly! We stay home. And enjoy a long, lazy day of learning which starts late. The days we have to step out, it’s pretty stressful just knowing that we have to follow deadlines and a time bound schedule…. if we are home, it’s a natural rhythm with no rush or urgency.

  • We start late too, it just works better for us. I have seven children so mornings are crazy. my kids do their own breakfast as they all like different things. I always cook lunch and we sit down and eat together. I get that cleared away and THEN we start school. So about 1:00-5:00 for us.

  • THANK YOU.

    His is the first time I’ve ever been compelled to comment on any blog post, but I appreciate hearing this so much. My 12 year old son is the baby of our family of 4, and we just started homeschooling in January. After months of forcing mornings, I realized we can get through twice as much if we start around 2 or 3. He is a night owl and miserable in the mornings, so we wound up spending more time fighting to focus than we did on school.

    We are in Texas but my work-from-home husband works on Pacific time. We have all just shifted to the different time zone, I get my things done in the morning, and we work until later in the day. Some days we are still going strong at 7 because he is so interested in the lesson. That definitely never happened when we started early. It’s great to hear that I’m not the only one not following the “rules” that I learned from public school.

  • Bridget,

    Thank you so much for leaving a comment! Your comment encouraged me and will encourage lots of other parents who read it. This post gets a lot of traffic! LOL!

    I love how your son wants to keep going because he’s so engaged even though it is later in the day. The important thing is he is learning, enjoying it, and your relationship is better because of it. Woo hoo!

    Last night we did school on the kitchen floor around 6:00. I was doing the dishes, Caroline was totally engaged with what she was doing, and happy doing it. Some kids just do better later in the day. David reads to her at bedtime for quite a while and lately they’ve been reading living history books about Ben Franklin, George Washington, etc. She loves it. She’s asked him to read some of the books over and over again. History from 8:30-9:00 p.m. Who cares? She’s totally engaged with the books and learning history!

    Best wishes to you!

  • I really enjoyed reading this, even though we do start our school day at 9am! My boys (8 and 7) are up by 7:15 every day, followed closely by the 2 year old at 7:30. My kids are much more focused in the mornings, and I’ve found that if I had to push the day back to start in the afternoon, it is pure misery for us. I do save history/science and Latin for the afternoons, since the youngest naps and those topics require me to have a lot of focus on them. But this is just what works for us! I find it funny that we all homeschool our kids for different reasons and although most of us stress that it’s the flexibility and creativity that we enjoy, we often become either judgmental or feel insecure about what we are doing when it may be different from what someone else is doing. Do what works for you! Isn’t that why we all started thinking about teaching our kids at home in the first place?! I applaud you for reminding people that anything that excites and educates your children makes your school day a success!

  • I start mid afternoon. We all are late to bed, late risers. Only when important things need to be done do we rise early. I have a 16 month old who rises late. So once we eat breakfast, she plays around and gets tired for her mid afternoon nap, then we get started. She sleeps for a couple of hours and we get much more done than if she is awake. Our window is about 2-6. I do one to two subjects a day. And if he has to do any computer work we do it first or last depending on what he chooses. I tried mornings and it just doesn’t work. This is my second year and I’m now learning how to accommodate our homeschool to our needs. I’m learning that it’s okay to be flexible. And that you do as much in a day or as little, as long as it gets done in a timely manner!

  • Thanks for this! I have a four month old who doesn’t sleep well so our mornings are so slow, and my other 2 are also the creative types full of their own ideas! I always felt so guilty letting us all sleep in and then do their own thing in the morning, so they really helps me feel better about it.

  • I have 4 children with another joining us in a few months. My 7 and 8 year old girls are currently the only ones in school. We have found mornings to be good for independent work, but I don’t force this. My oldest just realized that if she wants to be done earlier, she can start on her own. After lunch, the little ones take naps. That is when we do our combined subjects and anything that requires one on one teaching. Isn’t flexibility great.

  • My two kids attend our local charter school who offers classes. We are only home on Mondays, so we do our other book work in between classes and in the evening after dinner. Some days it works out and others it doesn’t. Sometimes I feel like we have no time for fun, that we are doing schoolwork all day long. But my kids love the school and the program, and are thriving actually. So we keep on going. I loved hearing about others days. What works for one, may not work for another.

  • I am so thankful I found your post! Both, my daughter and myself, cannot seem to be able to get any of the school work done in the morning. We begin our school day, grudgingly, around 10:30-11 and feel guilty for the rest of the day. My daughter is very creative and all she wants to do after she eats breakfast is artwork! I am glad to know I am not the only one feeling this way. This post was a great reminder of why I started home-schooling…to see her, enjoy her and in return for her to enjoy learning. Thank you!

  • I am so glad I found this post! I also have felt so guilty about not working on the “traditional” school schedule. My daughter has problems sleeping at night. We have been known to do school at 3:00 in the morning. I just have to adapt to her schedule. I fought it for months and finally just gave in because I realized we would never get anything accomplished if I didn’t.

  • Love this! Some of us are not morning people either (my oldest is, but she can get up & get going on her stuff w/o the rest of us, so that’s OK!).
    In response to the person wondering how all these kids will adapt to the working world… it really depends on what profession they go in to. I was a software engineer before becoming a homeschool mom and yes, some jobs they wanted me there between 8 & 9am, but some jobs we could come in as late as 10 or so. Mostly they just wanted you to get the work done. I actually did become somewhat more of a morning person just because I didn’t like the idea of still being at the office after 6:00 on a regular basis. But there are all sorts of different work hours depending on your profession.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you SO MUCH for writing this! I’ve been meaning to read this post for a while and I’m so glad I finally did. I’ve been feeling like a failure for two years now for not starting school until about 10 – Noon. My mother tried for 18 years to turn me into a morning person, but that just led me to hate mornings even more. 🙂 I really feel like it takes me a good 1-2 hours to wake up all the way and my husband works 3-1 AM anyway. He’s a sheriff’s deputy. This would’ve helped me so much last year when I was trying to homeschool around five weekly morning therapy appointments for my two youngest. I also have a good friend who’s a single mom to two special needs toddlers and I’ve been wanting to help her out, but she works nights too. I think we’re going to try this starting TODAY!

  • This is true for us for the most part! I am not a morning person AT ALL! I hate morning HATE IT! We usually do the majority of our school work after 2 in the afternoon when my youngest 2 are napping. BUT my daughter likes to shut down if i try to get her to read in the afternoon so we do new reading stuff in the morning and everything else in the afternoon. Like she all of a sudden has no clue what the word “it” is… >.< we get it done though!

  • I’m so happy to hear I’m not the only one. I have struggled for so long with my soon to be 12 yr old son about getting up earlier for school. I’m up at 5am every morning and was eager to start or day by 9am. That never happened. I could not get him up that early. We finally tried started trying to begin at 11am, that didn’t happen either. Now we are starting at 1pm. Our day goes much smoother.

  • I’m so glad you shared this! For several months now we have been doing the majority of our schoolwork after lunch. We do devotion right after breakfast. And I include read aloud time with that. Then we play! And mommy works! Until 11:00 when I get my oldest started on a few things and at 11:30ish we all come back together and practice our memory work. After lunch is the rest! I started this because my middle child, a 6 yo boy, is just like your daughter! Actually I think you have fallowed me around when I’m telling people about my son and how we homeschool 🙂 Glad to know I’m not alone! Blessings!

  • I really appreciated this article. I am naturally a morning person and would prefer to start schooling even BEFORE breakfast…but most days we can’t get started until 10ish. I am just so thankful that we CAN have such a relaxed atmosphere….and I am LEARNING to appreciate the relax-ed-ness. Sometimes we’ll have an outing in the morning (doctor, groceries, library, etc) then head home and focus for a few hours on our school work. While routine is important, some days life just happens (lots of those days recently). I’ve been learning not to make an idol out of routine. So…thank you for your encouragement and helping me realize..it’s a wonderful to set the schedule around the needs of the family.

  • with tears streaming down my face, and the deep breath I can take from the guilt weight that has been lifted…*sigh*….thank you for sharing. I know I don’t need to be or need to feel validated but…wow. Thank you. Thank you. I have found a real peace about our day when we follow the routine of morning quiet time, breakfast, talking, relaxing, chores, lunch and then school, and then sports/practice. Our time is much more fruitful and still allows for, if not nurtures, a wonderful productive day. Again–thank you.

  • Add me to the list, I’m truly surprised that others work this way too. It almost feels like a sin to be a homeschooling family who doesn’t rise with the sun and begin productivity soon after! I’m a nite owl, and several of my five kids are too (I suspect I have one or two who might have been morning people if they were born into another family, but it doesn’t seem to bother them to do it our way, we’ll see how that changes as they grow). I also need about two hours to wake up before I am able to do school. It’s like I need the coffee to fully soak in before I can do much. We do most of our work in the afternoon and occasionally do things in the evening, for example, I’ll work individually with a child at night while the others are playing. Or we’ll save a science project in the evening, as an extra thing after basic school is done. Thanks for posting this!

  • Thank you for posting this! My daughter is only three right now, but I am a late-to-bed and late-to-rise person, as is my husband because of his work schedule. It’s reassuring to hear good things about work getting done in the afternoon. Even though I’m only yet exploring homeschooling as a future option, I, too, hear that things should get started in the morning. I love my late mornings and late nights! Glad to hear that later is working well with your homeschooling. 🙂

  • This is SO us!! We have always been late to bed late to rise and have recieved a lot of concern from others about it. Someone even went so far as to ask my oldest son what was he going to do when he went out into the ‘real world’ and got a job that required early mornings. He simply responded with “I guess I’ll set an alarm clock.” We are all so much more focused in the afternoon and I’m glad there are others out there like us! Thanks so much for the encouragement!!

  • I have to say I’m glad I found this article. We’re new to homeschooling, our first year will be over in 2 weeks, and I always felt like we were odd not starting school by 9am. In fact our story is like many: Husband works 2nd shift (3p to 11pm or later) and so day time is daddy-time. (Plus, me and mornings have a strained relationship) After he leaves is when we start with school work of any sort. It’s nice to see people who live like we do!

  • We are just starting our homeschool journey this year, and one of the biggest reasons we are doing it at all, is we are all 3 night owls. My husband doesn’t even get home from work until 7AM! We did a year of pre-k where our son had to be up at 7 and out the door by 7:30 every morning. It had to be the most miserable year I’ve had since I left school well over a decade ago. And yet, every blog I ran across all had obscenely early start times ( who the heck gets up at 5am!?!?)
    We are not even planning to start our day until 3pm unless there is a field trip we want to attend that is over by 5 or 6! I was beginning to feel like I was going to be the only homeschool mom who wasn’t done by lunch.

  • I found this post through Pinterest. Thank you so much for the conversation about afternoon schooling. When I started homeschooling my oldest, I had a toddler and a newborn. So we just worked during afternoon naptime. Fast forward 7 years and we still prefer afternoons for school. We are up fairly early, but prefer to do other things in the a.m. We do our chores, workout, run errands, etc., and then we can focus on school later, knowing all the other ‘stuff’ is taken care of.
    As to the question about how will it affect them later in life; 9-5 jobs barely exist anymore. We are quickly moving into a 24/7 society. Since we don’t know what job shift our children will have in the future, how can we prepare them for it?

  • I am hoping to homeschool next year. I clicked on this article from Pinterest because of the title. I would like to homeschool in the afternoon instead of the morning because morning is when I get all of my stuff done for the day. I am most productive in the morning and I would be lost if I had to shift around and try to accomplish anything when I am wiped out by afternoon. I am a super early riser but my kids are pretty average morning risers.

  • Thanks for the great post! I love seeing how other people organize their days to work best for their own family, rather than following the “rules” set forth by others. I designed a homeschool schedule that may interest you, since it’s totally customizable, and you can check it out on my website if you’d like to see it 🙂 The website is LoveMySchedule.com.

  • Hi, I’m a homeschooling grandmother of a 7 year old boy with severe ADHD. I am also disabled from 25 years in the military and working as a field medic and everything is packed on your back and done manually for the most part. Due to taking meds for my issues, and being up all night with my grandson who can’t sleep, we sleep more during the day, and homeschool as we go. I used to enjoy talking about homeschooling with others because I was so passionate about it. But for the past couple of years, I refrain from because it turns into a fight and I feel I have to look over my shoulder all the time. This blog has helped me so much, to let go of my guilt and worry that I’ve even decided to work with my grandson and homeschool, even on those nights when he can’t sleep. What a relief to know there are many others out there just like us. Thank you for being a blessing.

    • Susan,

      Welcome! I’m glad what I wrote hear lifted the guilt and gave you the freedom you needed! You are doing a wonderful thing with your grandson. 🙂

  • I was just talking to a friend about the routine that has kind of found our homeschooling family. We, too, begin right after lunch. I was feeling guilty. Thinking this might not be “right.” Absolutely everything I had read about homeschooling routines insisted that schooling happen in the morning. *I* am not a morning person. My daughter sounds very much like yours, except maybe she’s less imaginative and more ACTIVE. VERY. ACTIVE. She, too, was a very needy baby. But at almost 5 years old, I can say it feels like we’ve finally found our groove. Schooling in the early afternoon gives her a chance to burn off energy in the morning with play. Late afternoon nearly always finds her outside, which also melds nicely with CM philosophy.

    I’m glad that I found your blog (on Pinterest),
    Jessica

  • We’ve just start up our new “school” year this week.  We have always done school in the morning and played in the afternoon.  However, as it is July and really HOT out in the afternoons, we are reversing our schedule for at least this first term.

    It’s going REALLY well.  I know, it’s only three days, but it’s great.  We’ll see how this goes.  It may be the start of something new for the whole year.

    I like it because the kids are ready to work and I’ve been able to do a lot of my work as well.

    Love the post about teachers as indicator species.  Yup.  And in my HS mom group, about half of us are former classroom teachers.  Our biggest challenge?  De-schooling ourselves!!!

  • My kids don’t really get up till 9, and I am slower getting going in the morning too. I like my coffee, Bible, and journaling! I’ve been feeling guilty for not doing school the “normal?” way, but we’re usually lucky to get 1 lesson done before lunch, and then usually end at 3ish. We have some breaks in there for nursing the baby or other things though. I feel like I’d have more time for nature study though if we started a little earlier. So glad to have found this post. It is so encouraging to read everyone’s comments!

  • I also tried homeschooling earlier in the day, but couldn’t make it work. My daughter just isn’t ready, and my blood sugar level isn’t stable enough until later in the day! She has a few assignments that she does independently during the day (sometimes morning – on her schedule, but her computer privileges depend on getting them done!) then we read together usually at about 8pm, when we cover Bible, poetry, science and history, and sometimes math, writing or Spanish. So most of our structured homeschooling happens after sundown!

  • I ended up here just by chance. I was feeling that I wasn’t living up to those same expectations I had that we “should” be doing school in the morning even though we just aren’t ready by then and it’s going well doing it in the afternoons. Thank you for helping me feel so much better and helping me see it from a different perspective 😊

Welcome!

Sallie-Schaaf-Borrink-060313-B-250x250I'm Sallie, teacher by training and now homeschooling mom of Caroline. My passion is to provide products, encouragement, and information that helps others discover and do what works with their children. I also write about living a cozy life as a highly introverted person. Welcome! ♥

Your Cart

100 Wholesome Books for Girls and Tweens

Categories

Scroll Up
15.17K Shares
Share7.31K
Pin7.84K
+1
Tweet
Stumble
Email