How These 3 Bad Habits Make Me a Better Homeschooler

the bottom legs and feet of three people in pajamas

Have you ever felt a bit sheepish because your kids are still in their pajamas at four in the afternoon? Have you ever second-guessed yourself when the topic of bedtime comes up in conversation with other parents? And what about how late your kids sleep in?

It’s easy to slip into the mindset that we’ve developed bad habits and we need to make changes to whip our crew back into shape. But the truth is, our so-called bad habits may be the fertile soil that allows our homeschools to thrive

Bad Habit #1: Staying Up Late and Sleeping In

Does your child like to sleep in? Does she stay up later than her public school peers? There are all sorts of recommendations about what time children should go to bed and how much sleep they should get. I don’t know about your family, but with my six kids, none of them fit the guidelines! They have what outsiders might call bad sleep habits.

My ten-year-old finds that his mind works overtime at night so he likes to read or draw or write in his journal at what would be bedtime for most kids. This usually means that his booklight is still burning bright at 10:30 or 11:00 at night! This also means that he sleeps later than most of my other kids. At first, I resisted this pattern, but as time went on, I realized that this is simply the natural pattern for his body and mind. The next morning, when he shows me what he has written or drawn, or launches into a conversation about what he read, I can see all of the learning he did while everyone else was sleeping. Who am I to stand in the way of this kind of authentic learning? 

My eight-year-old is a fast-to-sleep early-riser! His mind is fresh and ready to jump into the day when the sun rises, so his focus tends to peak early in the day. 

Thankfully, with homeschooling, I can make adjustments for each child. My late-rising nightowl has space to honor his own natural tendencies while still getting the rest he needs for good health and concentration. The same holds true for my eight-year-old. Can you imagine what a disaster it would be if I tried to force one or the other of these boys into the other’s sleep patterns? Yikes! 

We don't have bad sleep habits. We have individual sleep habits that mesh perfectly with our homeschool!

Bad Habit #2: Not Having a Set Start Time for Homeschool

Most of us have been taught that having a specific schedule is needed for us to accomplish our goals and have a healthy life. While it is important to set aside time to pursue activities of learning, homeschooling does not require us to start our days promptly at 8:00. From my family’s experience, we’ve found that having a hard, non-negotiable start time has actually hindered us. We feel more pressured to squeeze ourselves into the allocated times which makes us all grumpy.

Instead, we work within the flow of a routine.

How These 3 Bad Habits Make Me a Better HomeschoolerWe rise at our various times, wake up in our own ways (reading, playing, watching TV, exercising), and then we come together to dive into some focused learning time. By setting aside the expectation that we must start our day at a certain time, we free ourselves from the pressure to fit learning into the hours of 8:00 and 3:00. 

We aren't lazy. We work at our own pace and according to our own schedule. 

Bad Habit #3: Not Doing Things in a Schoolish Way

If you have a traditional school background of any sort, you’re familiar with all these trappings of school. I’m here to tell you that you can ditch these schoolish habits (if you choose), and your homeschool will flourish! Many of us fall back on these habits because they offer a sense of security in measuring our children’s growth, but the truth is, we already know that our kids are growing. So, let’s take a peek at some of these schoolish habits and see why we can ditch them.

  • Raising Your Hand to Ask a Question: Homeschoolers are notorious for peppering people with questions! Why? How? What? Even in the midst of a prepared lesson, your child may latch onto an idea that was not the original intent of the lesson. This leads to questions and rabbit trails and interest-led discoveries! When passion for learning ignites, questions and comments erupt, and raising a hand is a sure way to extinguish the flame. 

  • Receiving Grades and Taking Tests: You know what your child knows. You spend days and nights together, discussing, exploring, and debating. If we skip the testing and the grading, we show our children that learning is natural and takes place all the time. We show that we value learning for the sake of learning and not for the gold star of a grade. We see learning as a vast ocean rather than the limited information that can be gleaned from a test. So feel free to ditch the grades and the tests! 

  • Scope & Sequence and State Standards: We all know that every learner is unique and every person learns at different rates. We have the privilege of ditching the state's scope and sequence and standards. Sure, these can make a lovely menu for selecting topics that interest our kids, but we are not tied to them. 

  • Finishing Every Math Problem: When your child has mastered a topic or just needs a break, skip a few math problems. Skip a page! Skip an entire section if need be! Look at the child in front of you. What does he need? You know the answer.

We don't do things like the schools do. And that's precisely why we homeschool!

Many of us chose homeschooling because we wanted freedom from the confines of traditional school and as it turns out, the "bad” habits that we have formed over the years are exactly what homeschoolers thrive on. So, stay in your pajamas all day if it works for your family! A relaxed, joy-filled environment promotes the life-love of learning that we all seek!

Request a BookShark Catalog

About the Author

Angela Awald nurturedrootsAngela Awald is a homeschooling mama to 6, certified teacher, writer, and doula. Her days brim full of learning, loving, and laundry (lots and lots of laundry)!! She believes that nurturing children (and ourselves) means helping them to see that all of life is about learning – from our mistakes, from each other, and from great books! Angela blogs at where she shares the ways she is nurturing her family and inspiration for nurturing your own.