Want a super student? Make sure to use homeschooling’s secret weapon

During the teenage years, there is one simple, but powerful difference between homeschooling and conventional schooling.  This small difference delivers out-sized results.  It doesn’t require any additional resources or tools, just a little bit of planning.  Best of all, your teen will want to do this. 

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Clearer thinking and academic achievement
  • Better emotional health
  • Better physical health
  • Sounder decision making
  • Fewer accidents and injuries

What delivers all these great benefits? 

Getting enough sleep at night.

Research shows that teens need an average of 9 hours of sleep each night – more than they need when they are 10 years old!  But as they go through puberty, their melatonin levels change, preventing them from falling asleep early in the evening.  (Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep patterns.)  This causes them to stay up later.

Research shows that teens need an average of 9 hours of sleep each night – more than they need when they are 10 years old!  But as they go through puberty, their melatonin levels change, preventing them from falling asleep early in the evening.  (Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep patterns.)  This causes them to stay up later.

However, conventional schools don’t alter their hours for teens, so they are still forced to get up at the same time.  The net result is that most teens get about 7 hours of sleep each night.  By the end of the week, they have been deprived of about 10 hours of sleep that their minds and bodies need.

In contrast, homeschoolers have the opportunity to sleep in to get enough rest (assuming their parents allow it).  They don’t need to begin school at a specific time, so they can enjoy a healthier sleep pattern.  One study found that homeschoolers slept an average of 90 minutes longer than conventionally schooled students.  To put it in perspective, kids in conventional schools had been in class for nearly 20 minutes before the homeschoolers even got out of bed!

The benefits of sleep cited above are not trivial.  Research has shown that sleep has a major impact on mental, emotional and physical health.  Lack of sleep degrades attention, memory and analytical thought.  Sleepless people think slower and have difficulty consolidating learning.  Sleeplessness also undermines creative thought.  It’s easy to see how this could impact education.

Sleeplessness also leads to greater irritability and mood swings.  Several mental health disorders are also linked to lack of sleep.  Sleepless people are more likely to make poor decisions leading to increased risk of accidents.  Lack of sleep also impairs the immune system, hormone levels and rate of healing.  Sleepless teens are more likely to get sick and to heal slower.

All of this adds up to a secret advantage for homeschoolers.  Because they can get enough sleep, they are able to function at a higher level.  This may contribute to the tremendous academic and social success homeschooling has over conventional schools.

So, make a point to allow your teenaged children to sleep in the morning.  Even better, take positive steps to ensure they have a good night of sleep.

  • Minimize screen time at least a half-hour before bedtime.
  • Keep electronics out of the bedroom, so they are not awakened by alerts and notifications.
  • Establish a regular schedule for sleep.
  • Keep their bedroom dark and quiet at night.

Good sleep habits empower your kids to excel in their education and give them a clear advantage over kids in conventional schools.  More importantly, they teach your children excellent habits that can help them for a lifetime.

Mike is a co-founder of Homeschool Awakening where he devised the HEART diagnostic and writes a lot.  A father of 5 and homeschooling for more than 15 years, he has been in the trenches and understands the thrills and challenges.  When he is not writing, he is typically on an adventure with his family.

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