Written by Kara Fleck
This year in our homeschool the Fleck Academy is trying something new: no set start time. That’s right, we’re ditching it. The kids begin their lessons whenever they want to.
And it hasn’t evolved into total chaos.
No, seriously, it’s been a positive thing. All the boxes are checked at the end of the day. In fact, knock on wood, our mornings are going smoother than they have in some time.
I first read about this idea on Facebook when another homeschooling mom was talking about how it is better for her teens, who need more sleep. I was intrigued.
For years I’ve been dedicated to our rhythms and routines, including a set time to start the day. But I did wonder if this could have some benefits – especially for my teen, who I know isn’t getting enough sleep.
I also saw an opportunity to balance the needs of all four kids, who I imagined would naturally stagger their individual start times each day. I wondered if this would keep me from feeling spread too thin as a homeschool mom.
Could this possibly be a good fit for us?
It turns out that yes, I’m finding some solid benefits to this no set start time thing. Crazy at is sounds to me, the mama who normally sets many alarms on her phone to guide her day, this is working for us. Working well, in fact.
It is working for me and my younger kids
I’m naturally an early riser. I enjoy that time before my kids wake up. Even my earliest waking child is usually still asleep at 7 a.m. That gives me plenty of time for starting the day the slow motion way that I do best.
I set up my mama “camp” at the kitchen table the way that I normally would on a homeschool day, and as they are ready the kids get started.
It’s more relaxed, a little sweeter, and feels like things happen in a more natural flow.
That’s a plus for this mama.
I get more one-on-one time with my youngest kids. They want to jump right into lessons after breakfast and both have been consistently finished by lunchtime.
Our mornings are books and crafts and writing and math and it’s fun, this little morning elementary school we have going on. This is working for them.
My older kids benefit from the flexibility
My middle child still stars around 10 a.m., which has been our traditional start time in the past.
Sometimes he is up early with his younger sisters, but he prefers to spend the morning reading or watching YouTube and moving at the slow motion speed of his mother. Ahem.
He gets math and some of his less favorite subjects out of the way before lunch, then after lunch works for a few more hours to finish up the rest, saving his history reading for last because that is his favorite.
This is working for him.
My teen has been in two modes. Some days she is up early and doing her first lessons of the day, books open while she eats breakfast and I’m still brewing my first cup of coffee.
Some days she sleeps in, joins us before lunch and then works away the afternoon and early evening. She is getting everything assigned to her done each day either way.
This is working for her.
No more nagging
You know what else is working? People are getting more sleep and are less grouchy. There are no arguments about getting going in the morning. I don’t have to nag them to get them to the kitchen table. They show up ready to get to work.
Before we started this school year I talked to the kids about no set start time. I clearly laid out what would be expected of them. I told them if I started to notice them slipping in their work, or if folks seemed like they were taking advantage, we would go back to our normal schedule.
To tell the truth my fear was that I’d be prying the Playstation controller out of my teenagers’ hand at 4 o’clock and angrily waving math assignments around every afternoon.
Instead, I’ve been impressed with the ownership of their time the kids have taken, especially my older three. Knowing these kids as I do, those fears weren’t really justified to begin with. I’m a pretty lucky homeschool mom in that regard.
Your mileage may vary, of course. I’m not convinced this would work in every homeschooling household, but this no set start to the school day is working out well for the Flecks. So far, so good at least.
I’m glad we decided to give it a chance.
Have you ever tried a staggered start time, or letting kids start on their own schedule?