(Since the writing of this post my 2 eldest daughters have graduated from our homeschool and are both productive members of society.)
Recently the county where I live approached the topic of a later start time for the public schools. For many reasons, this becomes controversial mostly between the schools and the parents. The school administration obviously needs to be concerned with logistics; bus availability, the daily schedules of the drivers, the teachers, and the parents. They stated that the school budget would increase in order to make a delayed start a reality.
Parents, of course, are concerned with their child’s health and their ability to concentrate and do well in school but they also need to consider their schedules especially with the many extracurricular activities on the calendar.
As a homeschool parent, I have the luxury of allowing my children and especially my teens the freedom to sleep in. It doesn’t take us the same amount of time to complete school and they don’t need to wake early enough to catch a bus.
Even so, the type A part of me has always insisted on an early rise so that we can conquer as much as possible because, after all, I feel great when I can check off those boxes. I’m often mastered by my to-do list, by the requirements of school and by productivity. I’ve always had a hard time resting and allowing those in my life to rest.
Despite my natural driven tendencies, my whole world changed when I got sick with chronic Lyme Disease and I couldn’t stay awake. As each of my children was diagnosed I realized the absolute necessity of physical rest in our home.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that adolescents need between 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep each night in order to function at their best. My logical answer to that is “go to bed earlier”. But if you’ll remember your teen years you’ll remember that wasn’t possible. In fact, studies show that teens have a hard time falling asleep before 11 pm.
So I’m faced with the question that if a healthy teen needs that much sleep how much does my chronically ill and fatigued teen need?
It’s hard to answer that question. I have to consider whether or not my teen even slept the night before. As hard as it always was for me I had to let them sleep as much as they needed during their sickest times. Sometimes that meant they didn’t get out of bed for weeks or months except for the necessities.
My teens don’t want to stay in bed, well, not always. They certainly don’t want to fall behind in school or miss out on what all their friends are doing. They get discouraged and even frustrated with the amount of rest they need. It’s been one of the hardest parts of parenting & homeschooling ill children.
Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made. When something goes wrong our body needs to shut down temporarily in order to heal. We need sleep, healthy nutrition, and TLC. We would do well to stop and give in to rest.
What’s Most Important
As you can imagine I have experienced a lot of anxiety over whether or not my children would ever be well. Would they be able to finish school and graduate? What about their future? We have had to find creative ways to make learning happen despite our circumstances. We had to decide on what the most important things were for our children to learn.
I sought the counsel of other moms who had been in my position as well as the counsel of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). They were able to give me wonderful guidance and even suggestions for curriculum that would work for my children and their individual needs.
The school board in my county finally decided to approve a delayed school start but only by 20 minutes. As for my household, I will continue to assess and decide on an ongoing basis when our start time will be which I base on the health of each child and what their individual needs are.
I’m thankful for the flexibility that homeschooling allows for our family, especially since chronic illness became a major factor.