As a military homeschooling family of over 12 years, our lives and routines have changed multiple times. We’ve moved across country and across continents. Our children have changed and grown and so have their needs.
There are seven years between my two children. In some ways, this was more challenging than having kids closer in age. I could not teach them the same things at the same time. Their needs and subject content varied widely.
Additionally, both my children have very different personalities. My oldest, Allie, craved lots of attention, but didn’t really need it. She was able to go ahead with a lot of her work without my actual help.
On the other hand, my youngest, Josiah, didn’t crave attention so much as he needed it. A very black and white thinker, he always struggled to keep moving forward when something was out of line or imperfect. Let’s just say “out of the box” thinking and problem solving weren’t his strongest traits.
These were not the only differences.
My daughter hated being confined to any room which I had classified “the homeschool room.” No matter how bright and airy I tried to make it, she gravitated out of it. She wanted to sit on the couch and do all her reading in the living room. She preferred doing her math at the kitchen table or coffee table (actually she preferred not doing math at all, but I didn’t let that one fly).
Allie is a very independent thinker and not a morning person. For this reason, each day I simply had a list of all the work she needed to complete and I allowed her to choose the order in which she did them. The ability to choose her schedule set her day off in the right direction rather than being forced to do a subject right off the bat that would just tick her off (like math, for instance).
Josiah, on the other hand, loves having a designated homeschool room. He delights in all things structure. He prefers to do his work at the school table. He once told me that he’d noticed other families had “family rules” posted in their homeschool rooms and asked if we could also, please, have posted family rules.
Big clue, right?
Even so, I labored under the illusion that all children would absolutely adore the power to decide which subject to do when and I ran the school day in a similar manner for Josiah. Or attempted to. He used to really struggle with getting stuck. Test-taking? He would just freeze. The idea of answering “your best guess” felt like chaos to him. Looking back, I did not realize just how much he needed the structure of a schedule. When I typed up a detailed schedule for Josiah and posted it where he could refer to it frequently every day he flourished.
Allie is now grown and out of the house and only Josiah remains.
Now a teenager, my former early morning pal sleeps until 8 am. For a long time we got up by 6:00 and were hard charging by 7:00. We were generally able to get all of his school work accomplished by about noon. On days when the morning didn’t go smoothly leaving schoolwork left to be done after lunch, it took him twice as long as if he’s been doing the same work before lunch.
As a result, I kept a strict schedule of getting up and getting moving. Recently, however, I noticed Josiah struggling again. Mostly with fatigue. The grogginess of sleep lingered long. Our days stretched later.
Granted, he’s older now and does more challenging work, but it was more than that. It was grueling getting up at 6 am and still working at 3 pm. He was trying hard not to take so long completing work, but fatigue brought on mental drift.
So, I proposed a change. He was resistant at first. He pretty much always is resistant to change at first.
Eventually the allure of sleeping until 8 am overcame the resistance. This may seem quite late, but now that he is getting adequate sleep, he completes all his work by about 2:30. We still have days that don’t go as we’d hoped and when that happens, I call the day at 3:00.
Some days just aren’t perfect and sometimes the best solution is to let it go.
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