Are you in the “let ’em sleep” camp or the “we gotta get started on school by 9am” camp?
You might guess from the title of this episode that I’m in the former. In this episode I give all the reasons why I advocate for letting your homeschooled teen sleep in and do their schoolwork when they are well rested.
It seems like a simple topic, but it can affect many aspects of your homeschool day. Listen to find out more.
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This episode sponsored by My Father’s World Curriculum
If home is the center of education, God’s Word should be the center of the home. With My Father’s World Curriculum, God’s Word is not just a subject. It’s central to everything your child will do every day. From preschool through high school, My Father’s World combines the best of Charlotte Mason’s ideas, classical education, and unit studies with a Biblical worldview and global focus.
For high school families, My Father’s World has teamed with Unbound to provide an exciting new coaching program helping students and parents through the difficult high school years. Students will receive 18 bi-weekly group coaching calls as well as gaining access to an online community of coaches and like-minded students in a secure, private environment. Quarterly “Design Your Future” calls with student leaders will provide insights on the struggles and rewards of a Christ-centered life in this season.
From preschool through high school, My Father’s World has you covered. Go to mfwbooks.com today, download a catalog, schedule a free consultation, and let us help you find the fun, engaging, life-transforming curriculum your family has been waiting for. Go to mfwbooks.com today!
Episode 76: Pros for Letting Your Teen Sleep In
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Ann Karako: Hi, I’m Ann Karako, and you’re listening to episode 76 of the It’s Not That Hard To Homeschool High School podcast.
Welcome to another episode of It’s Not That Hard To Homeschool High School. The podcast for real people, so that you can confidently, competently and yes, even contentedly, provide the high school education that is best for your teen and your family. I’m your host Ann Karako from notthathardtohomeschool.com.
Hello, everyone, and welcome. Glad you’re here today. Back in January, I started an email series, I called it the care and feeding of homeschooled teens. [chuckles] Over the course of the next many weeks, I tackled one topic per newsletter.
My newsletter, by the way, comes out every Monday. If you’re looking for some encouragement to start your week, then get yourself signed up at notthathardtohomeschool.com. There’s a place on the homepage where you can input your email address and get on my newsletter.
Anyway, I don’t even remember where I was now. [laughs] Okay, I did this email series and there was a good response. I thought “Why let this thing rest [chuckles] in old emails that have been buried in people’s inboxes? Let’s bring it to the general public.”
Today on the podcast, I’m going to start a similar series. I don’t know if I’m going to call it the care and feeding of homeschooled teens, but it is that. We’re going to tackle a topic an episode for the next several weeks. Hopefully, it will be helpful for you. It’s not just about homeschooling. It’s a lot of general parenting teens topics; and yet as homeschoolers, we have specific applications for these things. Let’s get started.
The first topic is something that might seem shallow, [chuckles] might seem unimportant and yet, I really want to be a strong advocate for this thing. What am I talking about? I am talking about letting your teen [chuckles] sleep in. Yes, we’re going to talk about teens needing sleep today.
You might already be a convert on my bandwagon today and that’s great. Do you know what? If that’s the case, then you probably have my permission to shut this episode down now and come back in two weeks, or actually, I think it’s longer than two weeks, because April has five Fridays, and I don’t podcast on the fifth Friday, only on the first and third Fridays. However many weeks it takes for us to get back. [laughs] You can say goodbye and go if you want to but you never know what I’m going to say in any given episode, so stick around if you want.
Anybody though, who is listening to me now, who has the tendency to get their teen up in the morning, then I would request and suggest that you listen to this episode. It won’t be super long but I want to give you some things to think about.
We don’t have to keep to a public school schedule. We don’t have to make sure our kids get up at the crack of dawn every morning to get started with school, or chores and breakfast first and then school. One of the things that I loved the most [chuckles] when I was still homeschooling is that I could literally be still lying in bed, sometimes even with the lights still off, and I would hear the school bus drive by our house. [chuckles] I’d be like, “Nananana booboo, we don’t have to get on you,” [chuckles] so we don’t have to be up right now. None of my kids would have been up. I was barely awake myself and I would hear the school bus going by.
Why do teens need to sleep in?
Let your teen sleep in. You do not have to get them up at the crack of dawn and get going on the day. Why am I saying this? So many reasons, mainly kids at that age need so much more rest than their younger siblings do. Teens are growing very fast. If you are buying clothes for your teenage son, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They grow out of their jeans every six months, am I right? Girls are the same way. They grow in different directions [chuckles] but you still end up buying a lot of new clothes very quickly no matter what. They are growing physically, that takes energy.
Remember how when your kids were infants and they were having a growth spurt, they often needed a lot more sleep during that time? Well, teens are in a very long-term growth spurt. They need more rest just to fuel their body to do the growing that it is doing. If they don’t get the rest they need, their body’s still going to be growing but it’s going to mean they don’t have enough energy left to do other things.
How else they use up lots of energy during the day [chuckles] is their emotions. Oh, my goodness, teen emotions are a thing [chuckles], right? They are very strong, and that’s partly because of growing so much physically and the hormones that are changing how they think and feel, and they’re having to figure out how to deal with these very strong emotions. Sometimes the self-control takes a lot of energy, or if they’re giving into those emotions that can take a lot of energy. You know what I’m talking about.
If they have the rest they need, oftentimes those emotions become a lot more stable but also just the ambient energy usage that comes from being a teen and having the emotions is then taken care of because they’re getting the rest that they need.
It’s really hard to be a nice person when you’re tired, isn’t it? [chuckles] We can relate to that, can’t we? If your teen is having trouble being a nice person maybe that’s one of the reasons why, and maybe they just don’t want to tell you, or maybe it’s too subtle for them to even quite understand that that’s what’s going on.
It’s also hard to be productive when you’re tired. I don’t know about you [chuckles] but I really struggle when I’m tired to be motivated to do anything, and yet we’re expecting our teens to do a full day of schoolwork. Also, it’s hard to learn new things when you’re tired. What about that higher-level math that your kid is now taking in high school? Do you think that’s easy to learn on a good day? No, then if we are having them learn it when they’re sleep-deprived, goodness gracious, that’s going to run into problems.
Now you’re thinking “Oh, but I know my kid gets to bed at nine or ten o’clock every night so the fact that I’m waking them up at 6:00 AM is not a problem.” First of all, when you do a Google search you find that teens need at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night, not just 8, but 8 to 10. Many need closer to the 10-hour range than the 8-hour range, so don’t assume your kid is in the 8-hour range.
Secondly, who’s to say your teen is actually going to sleep [chuckles] at nine or ten o’clock? Maybe they’re headed to bed but are they really sleeping? Lots of teens prefer to stay up into the wee hours of the morning and in fact, sometimes that’s when they are their most productive. Have you ever thought about letting them do schoolwork then? Obviously, there need to be some ground rules. It becomes really weird to think I’m going to bed before my child [chuckles] and I will be asleep before they even go to bed. That can be a bit of an adjustment but sometimes it’s the best adjustment to make.
Set some ground rules, obviously, we don’t want them on the internet, we don’t want them playing around in ways that they should not be. Maybe there’s a reading book or a school subject that they can work on even if they’re sitting out in the dining room all by themselves. There’s a little bit more accountability that way.
I would suggest that you not assume that your teen is getting enough sleep just because you are sending them to bed at nine or ten o’clock. That would be something to follow up on for sure.
Hey, I’m just going to jump in here for half a moment and tell you that the sponsor for this episode is My Father’s World. If home is the center of education, God’s Word should be the center of the home. With My Father’s World curriculum, God’s Word is not just a subject, it’s central to everything your child will do every day. From preschool through high school, My Father’s World combines the best of Charlotte Mason’s ideas, classical education, and unit studies with a biblical worldview and global focus.
For high school families, My Father’s World has teamed with Unbound to provide an exciting new coaching program helping students and parents through the difficult high school years. Students will receive 18 biweekly group coaching calls as well as gaining access to an online community of coaches and like-minded students in a secure private environment. Quarterly “design your future” calls with student leaders will provide insights on the struggles and rewards of a Christ-centered life in this season.
From preschool through high school My Father’s World has you covered. Go to mfwbooks.com today, download a catalog, schedule a free consultation and let us help you find the fun, engaging, and life-transforming curriculum your family has been waiting for. Go to mfwbooks.com today, that’s mfwbooks.com.
Even if they are going right to sleep are you having to wake them up every morning at 6:00 AM or 8:00 AM? That could mean that they need more sleep. Are they willing to get out of bed then? If they’re not willing to get out of bed, if they struggle to get out of bed, that could mean they’re not getting enough sleep and they need more.
What about getting schoolwork done?
I know that many families like to do morning time or just you’ve had that good feeling of, “Oh, we got a lot of school done in the morning so now we can relax in the afternoon,” but the teen doesn’t necessarily feel that way. The teen doesn’t necessarily feel good about having to get up and drag through the morning when they’re tired. They would probably feel a lot better if they were allowed to sleep in and then take care of their schoolwork in the afternoon and evening.
When it comes to morning time, you’re like, “But morning time should happen in the morning, right?” Well, maybe not now that you have a teen, or maybe it can happen later in the morning. Maybe the early morning hours can be for you and your younger kids to work on math, reading, and those things that they really need your undivided attention for, and then you can give more attention to the teen in the afternoon when now, they’re working on those more difficult subjects. Something to think about as far as adapting your schedule so that your teen can get the sleep that they need.
Teaching them responsibility
One big thing that we tend to hear is, “Oh, but if I don’t teach my kid to get up early while they’re at home then they won’t know how to be responsible and get up to go to a job.” All I can say to that is that’s a load of hockey, [laughs] as my neighbor used to say. [laughs] Teens will be motivated to get up for a job when they need to do so.
Both of my youngest kids had to do early shifts at their Chick-fil-A jobs. I’m talking they had to arrive at work at 5:30 in the morning, and it’s a 35-minute drive away. We were in the habit of allowing them to determine their sleep schedule and to sleep in when they didn’t have to be at work, but they still were able to get themselves up and go to work. A lot of times they would be up and out of the house before I even was awake myself. They are very capable of doing that.
It’s all about motivation, it’s all about accountability. They know if they don’t get to work on time, they’re going to lose their job, so they’re motivated to get there. They don’t need to be trained in that. They know how to do that. It’s an instinct, “I want the paycheck, I like having money so I need to get to my job on time even if it’s early in the morning.” Don’t worry about that. That’s not something that you have to say, “Oh, my kid can’t learn how to do that if I don’t train them how to do that by getting them up early every day while we’re homeschooling.” Not true, just not true. You can trust your teen more than that. You can give them more credit than that.
All I can say is, out of five teens, I’ve allowed them to sleep in. I have not gone to them and told them when to get up. Some of them were the type that liked to set an alarm and would do so and get up. Others were like, “Nope, I’m sleeping as long as I want to.” Sometimes that would be 10:00, 11:00, or noon, and I was okay with that, for the most part.
Obviously, there are some days where we need to get them up, but in general, I allowed them to determine their sleep schedule and everything worked much better that way. They were much more well-rested, or at least they didn’t have the excuse of being tired [chuckles] to fall back on. If they tried to use it, they soon learned that it was not going to work because “Hey, you slept in until noon.”
That’s the thing. It’s a whole ‘nother learning process when we allow them to be responsible for their sleep schedule. It’s a whole ‘nother learning process where they realize, “Hey, I need to get to bed and get to sleep. Even if I’m allowed to sleep in, I can’t stay up till 5:00 in the morning. I need to get to bed at an hour such that I will get the sleep that I need.” It’s just another way for them to learn and grow. They get to experiment with what works best for them, and they get to learn how to handle this situation for themselves. It’s another area we can start to give them some independence in so that they can start to learn by trial and error what is going to work for them. In my family, it was the best thing ever. [chuckles]
As homeschool moms, we tend to think we need to control each and every situation. We need to have a tight schedule, and we need to be in control of everything. Sometimes it comes as a surprise that with our teens, we need to start learning to [chuckles] relinquish that control because they will push back at these attempts to keep controlling them like we used to when they were younger. Sleep schedule is one thing where we can give them a little bit more autonomy.
One of the topics later on in this series will be autonomy. We will go more into that but for now, the sleep schedule can be something that we allow them to have a little more autonomy within reason. Obviously, everything is open for discussion, and we can discuss it with our teen and put some boundaries on it. In general, we can allow them to sleep in and determine when they’re going to do their schoolwork and you’ll find that there’s a lot less pushback.
If you are skeptical [chuckles] I suggest you try it and see, because I believe that letting your kid sleep in so that they are well-rested is going to solve a lot of other issues that you may be dealing with, such as the lack of motivation or the inability to understand this particular math concept or just the bad attitude towards their siblings. A lot of that may resolve itself or at least get better when they’re getting enough rest.
If they’re not able to sleep well, then that means a trip to the doctor, to get some blood work done to see if there’s a reason for that.
Alrighty. I hope this has been helpful for you. Many of you’re like, “Yes, been there, done that, know that.” Not every episode in this series will be that way. This is a very light topic for today. I thought we’d just get started casually and not get too deep the first week.
Next week we’re going to talk about patience, not patients in a hospital but patience as in being a patient person. Yes, being a patient parent. That will be our subject for next week. I hope to see you then. Thanks for being here today.
- Episode 91: Unschooling Teens — My Experience and Advice (with Julie Polanco) - November 18, 2022
- Episode 90: Are You Giving Grace to Your Teen? - November 4, 2022
- Episode 89: Kristin Moon’s Homeschool Experience — Do’s and Don’ts for High School - October 21, 2022