Why we don’t start school at 8 am

Written by contributor Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers

A note from Jamie: This post originally published on November 18, 2011. Enjoy!

You know those homeschooling families that get up before the sun, do their morning chores, have a big hearty breakfast, and start school by 8:00?

Yeah, we’re not one of those.

Not that there is anything wrong with being one of those families. To be honest, I can see many benefits in being early risers and many days I wish we were. However, we just aren’t.

We’re a family full of night owls who aren’t especially friendly before at least 10:00.  We start slowly in the mornings, we don’t like to eat for the first couple of hours that we’re up (well, except me — I’ve learned to eat early since I’ve started running), and we need some time to warm up before anyone can expect more than grunts that pass for conversation from most of  us.

That’s why part of making school simple for us means that we don’t start school at 8 AM. Or 9 AM. Or even 10 AM. On a good day, we start by 11 AM.

I used to stress over our late-starting tendencies. I used to try to get everyone up and get school started by a time that is more socially acceptable in both homeschooling and public schooling circles. Those attempts resulted in a stressed-out, grumpy mom and sleepy, irritable kids.

So, I quit forcing a routine that didn’t suit our family.

We are night owls. Period. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can work by the schedule that best fits our family. We do our best work in the afternoon, so why fight that? I once asked my husband about our schedule and he actually prefers the days when we aren’t quite finished with school when he gets home. It allows him time to unwind before the kids are demanding his attention.

So, I usually get the kids up sometime between 10:00 and 10:30, after I’ve had my quiet time and my morning run. We do some basic household chores, have our Bible lesson, and do some light schoolwork before stopping for lunch around noon when they’re typically ready to eat. Then, in the afternoon, we tackle the bulk of our schoolwork.

Do I worry that my kids won’t be able to handle a more typical schedule when they get older and have jobs? No. I worked a traditional first shift job before I became a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t like getting up early, but I adapted and so will they. They may not even have to adapt. After all, somebody has to work those second and third shift jobs.

Does it get hectic sometimes? Occasionally, when we have commitments in the early afternoon and evening. Usually, though, we just adjust our schedule when we have to. We’re homeschoolers; we’re flexible. We may not like it, but we are capable of getting an early start.

For the most part, though, I have come to terms with the fact that our homeschool may not look like other families’ homeschools – at least, not between the hours of 8 and 11 AM – but that’s okay. It’s not supposed to because it’s our homeschool based on our family’s needs.

That means it looks just the way it’s supposed to look – for us.

What time does your family usually start school?

About Kris

Kris, who blogs at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, is a homeschooling mom to three amazing kids and wife to her unbelievably supportive husband. She enjoys photography, running, and drinking sweet tea. You can connect with Kris on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.


  1. I only have a preschooler but we usually do his lessons after lunch around 1 or 2, sometimes later. As neither of us are morning people I can see this schedule continuing in coming years. Thanks for for sharing or I may have felt I HAD to change to morning work just because he started first grade.

  2. Thanks for this perspective. It’s very freeing!
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  3. THANK. YOU. SO. MUCH. for writing this. We used to get started first thing in the morning and that worked fine for a while. But now, it is better if we can just slowly do school throughout our day. Maybe later on when my kids are bigger, we’ll change again, but now, we’ll do some school, we’ll play outside, do some school, work outside, do some school… you get the idea.

    If we’re running errands, we’ll pack in a few school books in the car. My son (first grade) will read a chapter book to himself or he’ll read aloud and we’ll have a conversation in the car about whatever we’re reading. And don’t think
    I won’t stoop to pulling out a school library book for bedtime reading! :)

    Flexible is the word at our house, for sure. I love hearing about other non-traditionally timed homeschooling families because it eases my sometimes guilt about being non-traditional.

  4. Ditto!!! We are night owls too and tend to staying up late, waking late and working late(r) than other school families. Am I stressed? No, because I know they can get up early if they have to (last year we got up at 6am every morning to commute to school). DH stresses about it, but I hope he is getting more relaxed.
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  5. We’re nocturnal too! My 33 months old fall asleep at about 11+pm after spending some evening time with Daddy. Then we wake up at about 10am, learning starts at about 11am-12pm. I love the flexibility of homeschooling and avoiding the morning traffic rush. :)
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  6. I love this! We start late too. 11am on an early day, but normally after lunch. I have 4 boys ages 8-4 and 2 girls (1 and 2). By about 2pm on a typical day the kids have done their chores and have gotten several hours of play out of their systems and are more willing to sit down and do an hour or two of learning. Plus there is the added benefit of it being the girls naptime. :) I love the flexibility of homeschooling even if what works for us is a bit unconventional.
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  7. We’re pretty much unschoolers so for us….school is life and life is school. And that is why I LOVE IT! we do have organized learning times and they are NEVER at 8 am and hardly ever before 11 am :)
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  8. Marcy Cherry says:

    Thank you! So good to hear another family who does not jump up at the crack of dawn to have chores done and school finished by 10 am. lol I always have felt guilty that we were late starters, but his article was very freeing.

  9. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have been fretting some over the fact that we don’t start early. Thank you for letting me know that I’m not the only one!!
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  10. Uuuhhhh yeah… we start around 10:00 AM. Actually, we are very disciplined just not early disciplined! LOl!

    :) Janet

  11. THANK

    We get up later too. I have a 13yo boy and it’s nice to be able to let him get 12 hours of sleep while he’s growing, and he IS growing!

    I found that my girls do most of their writing at 9:00 at night. Pages and pages of writing. I just need to learn to listen to my kids.
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  12. Vickilynn says:


    Thank you for the post.

    Our family has had a lot of schedule changes in the 22 years we’ve been homeschooling, but we are so blessed to be able to make our homeschooling fit OUR needs, not someone else’s.

    We’ve been early-risers and night-owls. Right now, we are in the night-owl phase (except for me) and it suits us fine.

  13. We have been homeschooling for a number of years and I have always tried to do the first thing in the morning done by lunch deal but this year has been a real struggle. I just decided over Christmas break that we would start our school day in the afternoon. I was thinking how weird it would look to all of my friends who homeschool but they’ll learn that’s my schedule and expect it. My husband works second shift, he has for a year. We started eating dinner at noon so we could eat together when he started this shift. Unfortunately, I kept up with starting school at 8. Now I realize it’s foolish. We’ll start when Dad goes to work. It will make it difficult for my youngest to play with her public school friends in the neighborhood but they school year round here so they’ll make good use of the days public school is off. Thanks for the article, I’m glad to know I’m in good company.

  14. Liberating! Glad to know we are not the only “slackers”. :) Thanks!
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  15. Thank you, we are just starting out with a K/1st and a toddler who are night owls like DH& I. Right now school happens during afternoon nap or it does not go well at all. I like to get out in the late morning for library time, errands or other life school experiences with both kids. For years we have tried to fit into our friends schedules for play dates etc but since they are all finding their own PS friends now, we’re trying to find more HS friends with flexibility.

  16. WOW! I thought we were the only anormal family! Thanks for sharing, it is really liberating to know we’re not alone!

    – Night Owl Dad

  17. My situation is different because I homeschool my youngest one who is in sixth grade. Her two older sisters who are in 9th and 11th grade go to public school. So I prefer to start homeschooling once they leave for school in the mornings around 9. If I waited until later we would be doing it when they would get home and my youngest gets very distracted. So for now this is working for us and we are usually done by noon. This is her first year of homeschooling so of course we might change it aound as we get further into it.

  18. Amen sister!!! That is the first time I have ever heard another homeschooling mom share it, and I feel SOOOO much better now! Whew!

    We start our schoolwork around 10:30-11:00am too, and it just works great for us too. Even when I’ve attempted to start earlier, it never worked… so eventually I figured, why bother! Everyone is much happier this way…

    Thank you so much for taking 2 tons of guilt off of me!
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  19. We have always been morning schoolers but this year has not worked out like the other years. The kids are needing more sleep and instead of waking them up to “get the day going” I let them sleep and when we do start school they are more willing to work without whining. It’s hard for me to switch it up but I’m learning it’s so much easier to go with the flow when it comes to their school time. Great post!
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  20. Thank you for sharing this article. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who starts later in the day. I worried for awhile that we weren’t starting earlier but if I forced it to happen, we would be both grumpy so I decided to just go with the flow as long as we got things accomplished by the end of the day. :)

  21. We start between 11 and 2, most days. Depends on how the day is going.

  22. Thanks for this!! It really is freeing to hear…since we are a family of surfers and our schedule can be all over the place (depending on the waves.; )) I have tried to force things, but it only ends in frustration. I guess it’s time I let go a little more. I’m encouraged!

  23. I am so relieved to know that I am not the only one who starts our homeschool day at 10:30 or 11 instead of 8 like they do in a public school.It just seems like it works better for me and my son;we’re both a bit of night-owls,and he still gets all his work done.

  24. Why fight it!! Amen!!

    With two teenagers, I love being able to have my morning before they wake up.
    I can have my peaceful Bible study time and then start my ritual of morning chores. Ultimately, I think it makes our kids more accountable when they can have a say in their own schedules. They know their assignments, what needs to be done. If they need to start their day at 9 AM, they do. It has also gone a long way to staying healthy in our household when everyone has proper sleep and isn’t trying to burn the candle at both ends.

    Thanks for the validation. :)

  25. Hmm, That’s not normal? We usually do our book subjects in the evening. I guess my child is a night owl. I always thought that is why we homeschool, to be more accommodating to our children. When it gets dark by 4:30 in the winter, that is when we come inside and start school. That way he gets all day to play and as far as I’m concerned, play is where children get the bulk of their learning.

  26. I cannot say how many hours a day we spend in actual school… but it isn’t nearly enough compared to my kids school-going peers… we start way too late in the day and finish way too early for anyone to think that we are are actually getting any education done!!! We are barely breathing before ten/ten-thirty in the morning… Though lately we have been starting at eleven sharp because an hour of workbooks and an hour of reading and journaling means that we can be finished school in time for lunch at 1pm. Two hours a day of formalish seat work is more than enough and most people wouldn’t call what we do before or after that school… but that’s when my kids are constructing with legos and building forts and researching the latest book they are writing or painting or crafting or playing games… or heaven forbid down the road playing in the rock pools at the beach, listening to audio books, practicing musical instruments, reading library books, cleaning tanks at the local aquarium… no not school/educational at all!!!
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  27. We have a somewhat out-of-norm schedule but it’s on the early side. Our kids, no matter what time they go to bed, wake before 6 a.m. So we just go to bed early, all of us, and are deep into math by 7 a.m. and off to the academic races after that.
    I always sort of hope when neighbors see my children bopping around outdoors at 1 or 2 they realize the kids started school before many people have brewed their first cup of coffee. I know I don’t need to feel guilty but I try to find a way to mention it lest they think we’re slackers. :-)

  28. We start school in the afternoons whenever my littlest goes down for her nap. We’re all happier that way!
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  29. We tend to begin at about 10am, as my daughter has always been a night owl (and hubby too). We do tend to run out of time for everything on many days, because we have many afternoon commitments. I have not yet found the perfect balance of timing our days, as it does seem like we are scrambling or not getting finished on many days.
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  30. Dawnielle Penn says:

    When we first started 8 years ago, we started at 8:00. Now I work a few days a week early mornings and get off at 9:00 a.m. so we will start a little after 9.
    That’s nice that you share with others that you can homeschool the way that works best for your family. :-)

  31. THANK YOU!!! This practically brought tears to my eyes. Such a relief to know that we’re not the only ones. I have five children ages 4 months-8 years and we are so not morning people! Our schedule has always been “different” from even our homeschool friends. Such a relief. I’m not going to feel guilty about it any more!

  32. Rachel Griffiths says:

    I am homeschooling my 13 year old son because he has severe IBS and would struggle to attend school. He is sick every morning and only begins to feel better in the early hours of the afternoon so we work around his illness. I have always felt somewhat apologetic for not being a “perfect” scheduled homeschoolers but stories like yours help to relieve that stress.

  33. LOVE THIS!
    We have been the same way. . .except we hide it! LOL

    Well, not anymore, but we used to. . . you know, when the phone rings at 9:30 am (!!!) you try to answer it all chipper like you’ve been awake for hours and nearly done with school?

    And about adaptability. . .when my son started college, he had NO trouble adapting to getting up at 6:30 am after the first week. Me, on the other hand, well that’s a whole ‘nother talk show.

    Thanks for writing this article!

  34. Since my son is a teenager and I work nights, school around 11 works better for us too. That s the beauty of homeschooling, the ability to adapt to your day. Isn’t this a nice skill to teach to our children!

  35. Thank you so much for this article! Its so nice to know that we’re not the only ones that get up and get started later. My daughter used to be a morning person but since she’s been a teen that has changed. I read an article that said when teens sleep later they do better at school. Since we homeschool we can definitely do that.

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