What time of day does schooling need to take place? Is there a best time of day? I think that answer is different for every family...maybe every individual child.
Last year I was playing with the idea of teaching EM in the mornings and JT in the afternoons. EM is definitely more of a morning person and I thought he might do his best work then. Unfortunately, it never seemed to come to fruition. I just couldn't work out a schedule that allowed me to teach at two different times every day.
A couple nights ago, I was telling a friend that I do my best planning late in the evening, usually between 8pm and midnight. The problem with this is that the next morning I never feel like teaching. I'm too tired. My friend said, "Why don't you just do school in the afternoon?"
Last year this idea probably would not have worked. We had piano and violin lessons in the afternoons. Now that we have eliminated some of our outside activities, we have a very open schedule in the afternoons. Most of our doctor appointments and library activities are in the mornings. All of a sudden, schooling later in the day makes perfect sense. I was worried that EM might not do as well as JT, but he seems to be adjusting well. Both of the boys enjoy starting the day out with free time. It was often a struggle to get going in the mornings if they had found something to do before schooling started. Now they have a few hours to play with Legos or go outside or work on drawing one of their endless battle games they invent. I did lay down the rule that there would be no computer games or movie watching during this free time. I want it to involve creative play.
I have found that I am much more enthusiastic about teaching in the afternoons. I have been able to get housework out of the way in the mornings this week. It is so much easier to conquer those kinds of tasks before schooling. By the end of the school day, I am worn out from being the cheerleader for my kids. All I want to do is relax...not fold laundry or clean the bathroom. I also feel like I'm accomplishing more every day, so that gives me more energy to spend on them. I no longer feel that they are 'wasting' my time when they aren't moving as quickly as I'd like.
So, why didn't it occur to me to move our school day to the afternoon? I believe it has to do with the assumption that I have to do what the schools are doing. Even after three years of non-conformity, I just can't stop comparing what we do with what THEY do. Am I afraid people who find out we let our kids sleep in until they are well rested will think we are somehow depriving them of needed skills? I know that no matter what we do, there will be critics out there who think we are ruining the lives of our children by our homeschooling choice. I didn't realize just how common that attitude was until I listened to a call in radio program called The Kojo Nnamdi Show episode entitled, "Homeschooling Goes Mainstream". I knew the naysayers were out there...I had just never really thought about the fact that people have a real disdain for what I do. Most of the callers seemed to think homeschoolers were all doing something harmful to their children.
Regardless of the disgust of the masses, I know what I am doing for my children is the right choice for them. They are happy. They are learning. They are developing into fine examples of people who can think for themselves. They aren't being told they are 'bad' because they can't sit still to listen to something they may or may not need to learn. They aren't being stuffed into a mold of what 'all 5th graders' should be. They are being allowed to grow and think and learn that even if every one else has done it this way for as long as anyone can remember...they can do it their own way and succeed.