When Homeschool Morning Time doesn’t work

homeschool morning time | homeschool routine

I keep seeing posts hailing the miracles of morning baskets and homeschool morning time, and honestly, part of me feels a little left out. The pins and Instagram posts make homeschool morning time look so idyllic. But I sigh and scroll past. It’s a “been there, tried that” moment for me.

Morning time is not an ideal homeschool time for us for a number of reasons. ADHD is a huge one that ranks top of the list. ADHD and mornings don’t mix. Throw in there that I’m not necessarily a morning person either, and I give any morning time routine a maximum of two weeks at our house. Mornings typically involve a lot of reminding and referee-ing. Lots of fighting and moodiness characterize our mornings. It always has, for years. And believe me, I’ve tried everything I can think of to derail this trait. As breakfast improves the moods of my three kids, the distractibility sets in. There is no focus. Getting dressed is hard enough, let alone trying to get school squeezed in there.

Because any kind of disciplined learning (math, for instance) is out of the question with all the distraction, I abandoned structured morning homeschool for a more relaxed morning routine. For awhile, I embraced whole family learning that involved creating and listening to a read-aloud, similar to homeschool morning time. But even then, I could barely get through a story without someone upset that someone else was sitting on their paper scraps or was too close to their personal space or happened to grab the wrong colored pencil or couldn’t figure out the craft or a thousand other possible scenarios. Now, I keep everyone separated with their own tasks, or we head out to one of our extra-curricular activities.

So what do you do when homeschool morning time doesn’t work? When the latest and greatest homeschool strategy seems to crash and burn at your place, what next? You pick yourself up from the rubble of that failed experiment, dust off, and move on. Homeschooling is meant to be as unique as you are.

  • The curriculum everyone raves about may not be the curriculum that works for you.
  • The routine that takes social media by storm may not fit your family or your lifestyle.
  • The latest “homeschool hack” may hack more than you had in mind.

We are different. We recognize those differences. That’s why many of us have chosen to homeschool. So when we don’t fit the homeschool mold, it’s okay. We homeschooled to break out of a mold. So here are some tips to navigate a failed homeschool morning time (or any other failed experiment).

What to do when homeschool morning time doesn’t work

  1. Recognize a failed routine doesn’t mean you are a failure. We jump to this conclusion so quickly. We feel failure rather than reasoning through it. A failed routine is just that, a routine that didn’t work out.
  2. Evaluate who you are, who your kids are, and what is likely to work for you. On most days, we start homeschooling after lunch. Sometimes, we’ve actually homeschooled in the evening. Occasionally, we scramble through some morning assignments so that we can head out to an afternoon activity. One thing about ADHD kids (at least mine), they love to be busy. They love variety and a change of pace. Find a structure that fits your family’s personality.
  3. Be willing to try something that may not work. Failing can tend to make us afraid of trying something new. But one of the greatest lessons you can teach your kids as you homeschool is how to fail well. There are few things I know for certain about my kids’ futures. But one of those things is that my kids will fail. It’s okay for them to see me try things and then admit it failed—and it’s no big deal. When I try something and fail, it takes the scary out of it for my kids. So give it a try.
  4. Remember that every homeschool family has their challenges, whether or not they are posting about them on social media. You are not alone. If your homeschool isn’t peaceful and beautiful and quiet, you are in good company. Mine isn’t either. And I talk with enough friends to know, there’s isn’t either. Homeschool is life, and life is messy.

Who says you have to homeschool in the morning? Who says you can’t start the day with a morning hike or a morning video? Who says you have to read out loud to your kids? Get an audio book instead. Go on field trips. Sleep in. Homeschool at night or in your pajamas. These choices are not necessarily a lack of discipline or a lack of structure; they could very well be the structure that breathes freedom back into your family life.

What if homeschool morning time doesn’t work? Then post on Instagram about your “homeschool afternoon time” instead, and rock it!

At home in your homeschool

At home in homeschool

I’ve been in the homeschool community for nearly thirty years. While I don’t pretend to know all the answers or to be an authority, I do know a lot of homeschooled graduates (I am one), a lot of homeschool families. And I know that no one’s story is the same.

Some unschooled, some loved unit studies, some traveled, some started late, some began early, some homeschooled to graduation, some returned to public school in high school, some went to college, some didn’t, some loved it, some hated it. Everyone has a different story.

Your story is going to be different, too, unlike anyone else’s. It won’t be like mine. And that mom on Facebook or in your co-op, it won’t be like her’s either. So, as a friend, I want to share that you have permission to be you, to create a custom fit for your homeschool, and to not worry about what someone else may be doing differently.

You have permission to take that grace week or month while the kids are sick and you adjust to the new baby or the move or the other dramatic life-change.

You have permission to call a redo, take time off to research, and try again.

You have permission to take a month off for Christmas or an early summer vacation.

You have permission to go back and redo that unit in math and add some manipulatives and not worry about finishing the book at the end of the year.

You have permission to spend an extra week on Egypt because your kids are loving it and learning and asking questions.

You have permission to let Wild Kratts be your go-to science curriculum for right now.

You have permission to try something and fail and try something different.

You have permission to move up a grade in a subject or back a grade in another (I often call it levels when my kids freak out about the number. “I’m not in fourth grade!” “It just refers to a level, honey, don’t worry.”)

You have permission to let your kids sleep in and do school after lunch or even after dinner.

You have permission to get up early and finish before 9 a.m. (bless you! I don’t know how you do it.)

You have permission to be you, the parent of your child, who knows and loves your child. You have permission to be the family God made you to be, with the interests and eccentricities that make you all unique. You have permission to pursue what you all love and what you are gifted at. You have permission to follow the script that God has crafted for you, and not worry that the lines are different from someone else’s script.

Yes, follow the state requirements. Yes, teach your child to learn and to read; prepare them well. But in the end, embrace homeschooling for all that it is—the opportunity to be at home in your school.