The School Bus Comes Early

Photo by Laurel Russwurm

The school bus comes early. At 6:30 AM, my children and I waved to the kids as they rode away on the bus. The buses began driving past our house again last week, and while we usually aren’t up to watch the early buses, we were today because we wanted to watch the sunrise and listen to the quiet of the day. Last week we were out at 11:30 PM to watch the stars.

Our schedule, or more appropriately pattern, usually isn’t quite so varied in such a short time. We typically fall into patterns, just as many families do. We encourage our children to listen to their bodies, which tend to get tired around the same time of day for a while before shifting to a new pattern. However, as unschoolers, we reserve a flexibility to our days that many families are not allotted. We can stay up late or get up early as we choose. And while we aren’t totally without any schedule, having appointments or attending field trips or activities which interest our family, for the most part, we are able to choose when we do those things and if it fits our needs.

And here I hear the cry from parents claiming  that we are setting our children up for failure when they are grown. Someday, our children will have to follow a schedule, get up at the same time everyday, and trudge to work like the rest of America. If it was mandated that adults be at jobs at a certain time, with no choice in the matter, they might have a point. However, I would argue that just because a person may have to be at work at 8 AM 15 years from now, it’s no reason to impose that schedule on a 5 year old.

There is no guarantee what hours my children might keep as adults. Perhaps they will choose to work a late shift, and yet no one claims that I should keep them up all night in order to acclimate them to such a schedule. Chances are that the position they choose will have some flexibility. Homeschoolers are more likely to be their own bosses, are more likely to go on to higher education and receive advanced degrees, and are more likely to be self-guided in these efforts.

As a mother staying with my children, my schedule does not dictate an adherence to a rigid schedule. My schedule prior to having children, working in a university setting, allowed flexibility with my hours, as does the job my husband currently has. Regardless, our choice of vocations is intrinsically tied to our hours, and we can therefore choose whether a position fits or not. It’s a choice not given to children on the way to school, whose waking and sleeping hours are not a reflection of what their bodies are telling them or what they are learning, but are dictated by a government based solely upon their age.

So, we wave to the kids on the bus and wish them a wonderful day, as we go on about our lives on our own schedule, whatever that may be to fit our needs. While those parents advocating strict adherence to schedules shake their heads at my apparent lack of structure, I smile, knowing my children, in their earnest quest for learning, are doing, and will do, quite fine in life.