What Does a Homeschooled Teenager’s Schedule Look Like?

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Last week, I told you about my morning routine. I also mentioned my teens’ schedules and alluded to the fact that they don’t really have a morning routine because morning is almost over by the time their day starts.

What Does a Homeschooled Teenager's Schedule Look Like?

My teens’ schedules may alarm some of you, but they’ll probably relieve others. It should be noted that my attitude is that I don’t care when (during the day) they do their work or how they schedule it (other than daily practice of subjects that require it and math daily because doing more than that in one day would probably make their heads explode) as long as all their work is completed by Friday and isn’t slapped together.

My night owl

Megan is my night owl. Like Brianna before her, she prefers to do the majority of her work after 11 PM when the house is quiet and her friends are offline. She typically does her reading, history, science, and language arts during the late night hours.

Math is a different beast and is always done in the afternoon. That way, she can complete all the problems that she can do without assistance and come to me for the ones she’s unsure about. She’s also been doing the ASL course in the afternoons, too, and practicing throughout the day.

So, what time does my night owl get up since she works late into the night? {ahem} You probably don’t want to know that. I start trying to wake her up around noon for lunch.

Sometimes it takes awhile.

However, often once she gets up I wonder why I was so worried about it because the majority of her work is already finished from the night before.

homeschooled teens schedules

Do I worry about how she’s going to manage to get up at a decent hour when she gets a job out in the “real world”? Nope. Brianna was the same way. Now, she has to be at cosmetology school by 8:30 every day. Like, seriously, because they lock the doors at 8:30 and if you’re late for school you just have to wait until they unlock the doors at 9:30.

Brianna has never been locked out. She sets her own alarm, gets herself up, and prepares her own breakfast and lunch before heading out the door each morning.

Both Brianna and Megan are perfectly capable of getting up at a more mainstream time when the need is there. Brianna has now gotten accustomed to going to bed by 11:30 most nights. Megan will adjust, too, when she needs to. If not, there are always 2nd and 3rd shift jobs. Somebody has to work them.

My afternoon teen

Josh is typically up between 11:00 and 11:30 AM. He wakes easily, but is so not a morning person (like his mother). I don’t speak to him any more than I have to until after lunch. He does the subjects that require the least amount of thought before lunch. For him, that’s usually language arts, reading, and science.

We take a long lunch and usually resume school by 2:00. That’s when Josh tackles everything he didn’t do before lunch. Like Megan, he does math in the afternoon so that I’m available to help explain difficult concepts. I’m getting pretty good at algebra, y’all. (Sadly, I find that Josh’s algebra comes more easily to me than Megan’s 8th grade math. I don’t understand how that can be.)

teen homeschooler schedules

So, does that late start and long lunch mean late afternoons for Josh? Yes, usually. I don’t think it’s any different than kids coming home and doing homework after school, though, so it doesn’t bother either of us.

What I like most about my kids’ schedules is that they’re taking ownership of their education. They’re discovering the times that they’re each most efficient and capitalizing on that. They’re both scheduling out their own day in their planners and making sure their work gets completed. Those are excellent time management and organizational skills.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I don’t have to sometimes remind them to check their planners or nag about schoolwork. They are teenagers. But for the most part, they have become pretty adept at managing their day.

Do you have teens? What does their schedule look like?

This post is linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop and Finishing Strong.

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Kris Bales is a newly-retired homeschool mom and the quirky, Christ-following, painfully honest founder (and former owner) of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. She has a pretty serious addiction to sweet tea and Words with Friends. Kris and her husband of over 30 years are parents to three amazing homeschool grads. They share their home with three dogs, two cats, a ball python, a bearded dragon, and seven birds.

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  1. Thank you for posting this. I have a teen (age 15) and a 9 year old and neither of them ever want to go to bed. They share a room so it’s difficult to get the younger one to bed earlier. My teen also sleeps late and usually rises around 11am. My younger wakes around 8. So maybe I’ll just let the older one sleep and work his own schedule and work with my younger son. Sometimes I fall into the trap of thinking that we have to work traditional school hours. You are right – as long as the work gets done, who cares about the time frame. I’m going to share this blog post with my teen.

    1. It’s easy to fall into that trap, but really sometimes teens just need more sleep. I hope your teen enjoys the post!

  2. Our policy for teenagers is very similar. M, who will be 15 next month, can sleep right through the day sometimes….but her schoolwork is completed (usually at around midnight) and she can get herself up in the early morning for her weekly volunteer activity without a problem. If that’s how she wants to manage her time and her dad & I are pleased with the academics, why shouldn’t she?

    K, now 23, did things that way too and now it’s rare for him to sleep past about 6:30, even when he can. Now if we could just convince D, 7 to sleep in a bit we’d be all set!

    1. There’s one in every bunch. 😉 Of course, for me the early riser was the one who sleeps the latest now, so maybe you’ll get there.

  3. My daughters are a lot like your daughter. They’re usually awake until about 4 am, and I start TRYING to wake them around noon, although they usually don’t get up until around 1. My son is usually in bed between 11-1 and wakes sometime around 9. Right now, I do school with the elementary age kids in the morning, so school doesn’t start for these three until around 2. My oldest daughter prefers to do her work on her own, so a lot of times she just does it whenever she feels like, but my other two teens are very activity oriented, so they do a lot of work together. The 2 o’clock time is somewhat arbitrary, but that is when I read the book “Jesus Is…” aloud to the three of them. That’s kind of our kick-off. My oldest daughter usually does her geometry around 9pm, so that I can help her while the other ones are in bed. (At least they SHOULD be.) I’m pretty much like you, though. Whatever works for them, as long as it gets done.

  4. I love this. My son who I am homeschooling is in 7th grade. Our unique situation is that I work full time. Depending on what I assign and where he needs help, his school day may not even begin until after dinner. I love the flexibility of homeschooling.

    1. I’m in this same category with my daughter – i work part time so she usually is sleeping while I’m at work and whatever needs to be done together is done in the late afternoons and then she has all day/night to complete her independent work.

  5. I am so glad that I just read this! My husband always goes on and on about getting the girls up early etc…but they work best when they sleep late! — I thought we were just being lazy 🙁 Thanks sooooo much for letting us know..we are’t the only *night owls*

  6. Our oldest (now graduated) was never a morning person. When he was in public school in early elementary it was a nightmare getting him up and dressed and out the door. Once we decided to home school we just naturally let him sleep until he was ready to get up. By the time he was a teen, he would get up around 2pm and then we’d start.
    This actually worked out well because by then his morning bird sister was also being home schooled. So we finished with her about the time our son was getting up.

  7. Around the teen years all of my four started rising later. Frequently I’d be finished with the younger ones before the teens even surfaced. If and when they needed to they got themselves up early they all did. My 17 year old would prefer not to rise before 10:30-11am. However, he’s doing one course at university and needs to rise earlier for some lectures. He’s never missed one or been late. And he often has early – very early as in 5-6am – starts for his job. Again his alarm is his friend. If he doesn’t have to get up early then he doesn’t. My 14 year old is often up and working by 8:30-9 am but she’s not dressed and she isn’t really ready to face the world. I think she’d like to stay in bed later but she likes to have some free space in her waking hours and she has to leave home mid-afternoon to train and coach (and she’s too tired to do any schoolwork when she gets home) so this is the compromise that more-or- less works for now.

  8. As a parent who homeschools and works outside the home, my kids don’t usually start school til late afternoon. We even do work on Saturdays in the event that everything for the week isn’t finished. It’s so much easier than traditional school schedule was.

  9. Man I love reading your blog! I just wish my own kids were older…because I’m worried I’m going to forget all your amazing advice by the time mine are teenagers!

  10. So fun to read the ‘other side’. Our house is the opposite. 8 going on 9 children (baby due in a few weeks) and he teen gets up at 5AM on her own daily because she’s out the door at 5:45am (with me as driver) to go to an early morning scripture study class with 7 other teens from church who live nearby. They meet at their teacher’s house. 6 public schoolers, 1 online schooler, and my daughter, the homeschooler. She gets home at 7am and the rest of the kids are up or getting up then. School done by lunch (occasionally we have science experiments or more reading aloud in the afternoons. And occasionally the teen has some work to do in the afternoon due to her library volunteer job mid-week. I

    1. The idea of anyone having to be out the door by 5:45 with me as the driver makes my head hurt. 😉 Josh had to be at driving school by 8:45 every day for the week he took the class. I found it so stressful.

      1. LOL, it is ok only because it’s just her. If it were the little kids too I would hate it. And I’m not looking forward to doing it inwinter with the snow and ice (Ohio, usually subzero for a good two months with snow that just won’t melt.) But I am trying not to think about that too much right now.

  11. I’m going to be the odd man out here. My husband and I are early risers…. so my 14 year old has an alarm that goes off at 7:30 each morning. Her work is hopefully completed by 3 or 4 — and then it’s off to afternoon and evening activities. The entire house is shut down for the day around 11. That is just what works for our family… but I love that homeschooling can allow YOUR family do to what works for YOU. 🙂

    1. That’s great, Mary. And that’s the whole point – enjoying the flexibility that homeschooling allows by allowing your teens work at the time that is optimal for them. I confess, it sounds really, really nice to have the whole house quiet by 11 PM. I would enjoy that. 🙂

    2. I am like you, Mary. We all need to rise early or it just doesn’t happen around here. My 15 year old and I head to the gym (my part-time job) at 5:45 a.m. He practices basketball while I do my job. Then we get back home at 9:15 a.m. and start school work with all the children. While I am at the gym, the younger children are still sleep until about 7:30/8:00. By the time I get home, they have eaten, completed chores and washed up and ready for me. We have to have a schedule starting early so that we can participate in afterschool activities or just relax. Kris said it best, “flexibility is the point”.

  12. 10+ years ago, we were caring for my husbands aging/wander-prone grandma. My 2nd daughter stayed awake doing school(chemistry mostly) and watched “grandma tv”. It really helped all my children to be more compassionate and loving. That daughter now has degree and works a normal 8-4 job.

  13. I love the trust for your young people that comes through in this post, Kris. I’m a lark but as my kids approach their teens their body clocks are beginning to shift towards later rising. Their schooled friends are all exhausted this weekend after their first week of term while we’re all feeling refreshed and relaxed. How wonderful to have the freedom to tune into our own natural rhythms!

  14. I keep praying that one day mine too will own their education so that doing work late at night would actually happen. We are night owls, but my just turned 14 and 15 year olds keep scheduling daytime classes outside of the home between 11 and 2 so there isn’t much sleeping in, and they take from 4-8 off for friends. We are newer to homeschool so there is still a lot of prodding needed or games will dominate. I have them do the subjects that require thought, like math and written responses between classes/before friends, they choose when to do history/Bible, science, and reading so we are often having deep discussions at 12 in place of written responses…far better in my mind. 🙂

  15. My 15yo will sleep in til 10-11am if left to herself which I mostly allow, so on days we are home all day school begins about 12 noon. She chooses to go to bed at 10pm so I think its clear she just needs more sleep. In elementary we usually started by 8 and she went to bed by 8 or 9pm. She willingly takes and enjoys some coop classes w friends two mornings a week this year at 9 am so I get her up for that and she does pretty well once she’s eaten anyway. Since she’s pretty resistant to doing schoolwork after dinner or on weekends she will sacrifice some sleep to get things done if we have afternoon activities. Her choice though, personally I’d sleep and finish after dinner. She is moving towards independence with these choices though so I’m happy w her progress.

  16. I have started letting my teen sleep until he wakes up, which is around 8:30-9:30am. The reason it’s so relatively early (compared to many on here) is because I enforce lights out at 10pm. The reason I do this is that I am just not comfortable with letting my kids have unsupervised computer/internet access night after night — which is what would happen if I went to bed and left them up. Is anybody else concerned about this, or am I just being overprotective? How do those of you whose kids stay up after you handle this issue?

    1. No, I don’t think you’re being overprotective at all. That was a huge concern for me, as well. We’ve done things like set up network filtering with Open DNS, put the router on a timer so that the Internet goes off/comes on at designated times, and, of course, talk to our teens a lot about their Internet usage and our expectations. I have everyone’s passwords and they know I’ll check their online activity whenever I want.

  17. My daughter gets up at 11 am too. She is in the 9th grade and I would like her to do world geography. What do you recommend? Can you please tell me what your son’s curriculum is like. what history, math, literature, science and grammar. I just want to know as a reference because I don’t know what I am doing.

  18. My son (almost 14) is actually an early riser like his dad. I AM NOT! lol. He gets up early (around 6) with my husband and they work out and read the Bible together. then he starts school around 8 on his own after breakfast and a shower. his schedule is the most chaotic since he does most of it on his own and he has to make more adjustments for certain things on certain days (karate at the college next door tuesdays/thursdays. etc…) the only stuff that has to be done at a certain time is family school subjects (bible study, foreign language, scripture memory). he then zonks out pretty much by 9:30. for my younger girls (12, 10, 8), i stagger start them with independent work so i can sleep in a bit and dont start the youngest (who i work with the most) until 9:45. i have to give them specific start times otherwise they would play all morning. which would be totally fine if their neighborhood friends didn’t want the afternoon hours for play. they do tend to stay up later (till around 10:30 or 11) talking since they all share a room. 🙂

  19. We usually start school by 10am so we can be finished by 3pm when my husband comes home from work. That way we can enjoy family time or other activities without having to worry about getting school done.

  20. I have one that starts by 8:30 am and finishes before lunch and another that doesn’t get out of bed uutil almost lunch time but takes the day for himself and starts his books at 10:30 pm.

    1. I think that’s really cool that they both have the flexibility to schedule their day in the way that works best for them.

  21. So glad to have found this my daughter says she wants to do work in the morning, but I can not get her up to do so. She is a night owl. Sometimes I give her something to help her sleep- but same thing it makes it hard to get up. I work from home some days right now it is almost 100 and she is still asleep. I have been trying to get her up every hour. Some days school work is a big struggle, but I agree as long as she gets it done Im flexible on the time. I was worried that this was way to laid back, but when I read your post it made me feel so much better! Thanks!

  22. Although it infuriates others, and I let them guilt me into thinking my kids had to be up early for years, I finally settled into a late day routine in high school. We used to fight all through the morning when we got up early.
    I am a night owl and I kept my younger children up til 10 or later so I wouldn’t have to operate on 5 or 6 hrs sleep. I liked it because we didn’t have to rush home from church or events to get kids in bed.
    We are now all 3 in college (my 2nd go round) with dual-enrolled H.S. Junior and Seniors. We make it fine to 8 o’clock classes. The last couple of years, my son chose to go to bed at 10 or 11, and he got up at 8. My daughter and I went to bed around 12-12:30 and we’re up 9-9:30ish. My son was always finished with his work by lunch.
    Most afternoons, we had some sort of music practice or club meeting or church activity. We also did a LOT of volunteering around the community (soup kitchen, relief org, etc….). To me, service work was a ‘course’. We were always socializing with people of my choosing. Through 4-H, I exposed them to just about everything there was to offer. My son also did scouting (now Trail Life).
    I do think academics are important, but the more well-rounded they are, the better they will adapt in life. We NEVER took an achievement test until the ACT, and my son scored a 29 on his first try.
    So, if you are pushing your kids til they cry or hate you, I encourage you to stop battering them with every assignment listed in the curriculum and get them out in the community to learn. I’ve always said the best motivation for learning is good, hard work.

  23. Kris, after reading your profile, I’m convinced we could be besties. Married 22 yrs, teens 17 and 16. 5 cats. Weird and quirky! I’m in Mississippi, though.

  24. I greatly enjoyed this post! Our family lives and works a self sustainable farm, and 16yo DD is more of an early riser than we are. She is up at 6 to do some house chores and milk a cow before breakfast, water/feed after, then do math every single day and one week of another subject (just one!) after that. We have a 365-day school schedule, and usually she works ahead of scheduled due dates. Work can travel for the day, or for a week during vacations or business trips. We are blessed!!

  25. What do you do about a teenager,15 yr old girl, that won’t get her work done? She wanted to make her own schedule, but she didn’t make it past the first week? I don’t mind if she wants to do her work later in the day as long as it gets done? I feel that maybe I didn’t give it enough time. She will get up in time to make it to worship practice, 8:30, and co-op, 6. Other mornings she will get up anywhere between 10-1 and really doesn’t do much, school work or chores.

    1. I’m right there with you. I started running into that problem with my 15-year-old girl toward the end of this school year, though she’d done well previously. I’m pondering that for next year. I think it’s going to be something of a natural consequences kind of thing – if you can’t operate on your schedule and do what needs to be done, you’ll be back to operating on my schedule and/or skipping the things you want to do because you didn’t complete what you need to do. I’ve got better things to do with my time than nag a teen who is perfectly capable of managing her own schedule.

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