I read a news story recently about a woman who pulled her child out of school because the start of school was too early for her child and she was sick of her daughter suffering because of it. Naturally, it invited a lot of comments, most of them not kind, about the mother using it as an excuse because she was too lazy to get her backside out of bed in the morning. But it begged the question, how early is too early for children? Are you using an excuse to stay in bed longer than you need to?
There was a part of me that understood what the mother was saying, but I don't think it's necessarily because of the early time. I found that when my children attended regular school, the mornings could be very stressful, and I'm an organised person. It was more about the pressure of absolutely not being late, which would inevitably invite some sort of situation which meant you ended up rushing to get to school before the bell rang. We were in a routine, my children woke when they were told to, they brushed their teeth and made their beds, and then they came down for breakfast before getting dressed. I didn't have to listen to them complain or tell me it was too early and I certainly didn't have to pick their sleepy heads from out of their breakfast cereal. But on occasions, I did find myself barking at them to get a move on, sometimes absolutely screaming at them because they were 'stressing' me out as they seemed to suddenly start walking in quicksand the minute we had to leave.
It made me think, how must have that set my children up for the day? How motivated could they have possibly been, having arrived in school with their mother's disappointed voice still ringing in their ears? Our school wanted the children on the playground by 8:40am and in school by 8:50am. When you think about it, that's pretty early. Children need to be up for at least 7am to allow them enough time to regulate themselves, eat, drink, and get dressed, and then, of course, we adults need time to get prepared too. Especially if there's a job to attend. I always got my children up early enough to have a little bit of playtime otherwise, it would have felt like I had just pulled them from their beds, shoved chocolate hoops down their throats, slapped them in their no-iron shirts, and shoved them out the door. It's no wonder some parents struggle with children who just do not want to participate in the school rush, sorry...run.
Don't get me wrong, I think there are parents who absolutely can't be bothered to argue with their children. The ones who let them get away with it until eventually, they have to drag them out of bed kicking and screaming and turn up late with another warning letter from the head, going in the bin without even being opened. But the question still remains, how early is too early? Well, I'm going to tell you something that might surprise you. My children still get up at 7am every day to start their homeschooling day even earlier than they used to start their school day. They start their lessons at 8am. But guess what, we don't have any shouting or screaming, there's no stress whatsoever at all. The day starts off very calm and my children begin learning having had a slow and easy morning, with enough time to eat, drink and play, and spend time with their parents eating breakfast instead of being herded out the front door.
The reason we start at 8am is because we finish at 12pm, after that, the day is ours. This works for us because I work and if I didn't have my children in some form of a learning routine, they would sit on their iPad's all day, that's not exactly the intention I had for them when I pulled them out of mainstream, school. So, what makes the difference in this whole routine if my children still have to get up at the same time as they used to? It's all about removing the fear. For me as a parent, I'm not worried about disappointing my children by getting them a big red late mark on their attendance record, and that gives my children a mother who motivates them instead of burdening them and making them feel responsible for my stress.
I understand why it is important for children to be in school at a certain time and on time, after all, you couldn't rock up to work whenever you feel like it, you would most likely get the sack. But what if the school day started a little later, 9:30am let's say, I wonder how much of a difference that could make to families? I guess we'll never know. I'm just glad that homeschooling has invited a peace to my life that was never there before. There are so many aspects to mainstream school that affects the entire family, the early morning routine is just one of them. I'll always be thankful to have removed that stress from my life, and to no longer sit in the car crying knowing I'm going to have to wait until 3:30pm to apologise to my children for being such a horrible mother earlier that day. Be honest with yourself, are you being lazy or do you start your day with enough time to make the most of it?