A neighbour asked me recently what homeschooling tips and tricks we use, because she and her husband are thinking about switching to homeschooling. All the upheaval in schools is inspiring many to take the plunge into homeschooling, and I know it’s not an easy switch. We began homeschooling when my son was in grade 2, so I know what it’s like to go from public school to homeschool. So, I’m going to share some things that have really helped us in our homeschooling journey.
This particular post began as a subsection in a post about Homeschooling tricks we use. But I ended up having so much to say about it that I’ve made it its own post. You’ll find, hopefully, more details than you even need to make Quiet Time a reality in your home. All the Quiet Time questions answered…I hope! Any new questions, just leave them in the comments and I’m happy to help!
It’s actually very good for kids to have some time on their own!
If you need more convincing to read this post and give Quiet Time a go, check out this article from Selmar Institute of Education. This is just one article about the importance of Quiet Time for kids. ALL ages of kids. Your teens will benefit greatly from Quiet Time, too. Just look up “Benefits of Quiet Time” in your favourite search engine and you will find many great articles and statistics to back me up. Quiet Time is not just a time for Mom to get a break (although that’s reason enough for me!), but your kids will benefit from it as well.
Starting Quiet Time
At first quiet time can be a BATTLE! I think kids feel that being sent to their room against their will is never a good thing. But now I tell my son (9-years-old) that he can come out of quiet time and he frequently says “No, that’s okay. I’m going to stay.” In fact, I told him this afternoon that Quiet Time was going to be longer than usual (because he’s been rather naughty this morning) and he said, “YES! I love long Quiet Times!” So if it’s tricky at the beginning, don’t be discouraged. Don’t even be surprised if you’ve had a week of Quiet Time and you’ve not gotten a moment to yourself. As long as you follow through you should be “arriving” any day now!
How does Quiet Time work?
This is the basics of how I run quiet time with my family. The kids eat lunch at noon, almost on the dot. They listen to an Adventure in Odyssey while they eat, and head to their quiet time rooms (after I say, “Quiet time!”) at 12:30. They stay there until at least 2, but sometimes 3 (usually that late only if we start it late, or if they continually come out before I say it’s time). They aren’t allowed to come out of their room until it’s tidy.
What do kids do in Quiet Time?
Little kids can use this chance to nap. My son (age 9) mostly listens to audiobooks (on the Libby app from our local library, Adventures in Odyssey, or a number of audiobook CDs we have) while playing Lego, or listening to audiobooks while looking at books, or listening to audiobooks while playing… The audiobooks are a constant. He loves them, and his vocabulary is much more extensive because of (at least in part) them. Here are some examples of his vocabulary (too many! Skip if you want, but they’re so darn cute!):
- He broke a chair because “the chair was rubbish.”
- I sent him to his room. When he thought he should be able to come out he said, “Please Mum, I shan’t do it again.”
- “What is that disgusting smell in the garage? It’s agony!”
- “Can you close this camping chair for me? I’m atrocious at it!”
- “I love this shirt so much! I can’t abide not wearing it!”
- To his sister: “How could you throw my bathing suit on the ground to get me in trouble with Dad and make me look like a fool?”
Basically audiobooks are awesome!
My 4- and 5-year-old daughters bring puzzles into their quiet time rooms, or paper, markers and stickers to make countless pictures, or bring in their babies and play. Some rare times I let them stay together, but they have to be quiet and get along or I separate them.
Don’t feel like you have to structure their Quiet Time. In fact, part of the benefit of Quiet Time is that it helps kids be more independent. They can find things to entertain themselves. I have only heard my children say “I’m bored” two times in my life. And one time I responded with, “You are not!” and they burst out laughing, saying, “No, we’re not!” They are used to finding their own amusements. At the beginning, though, you may want to say, “You can pick some books and one quiet activity each.” If they don’t know what they want to play with, make a couple of suggestions and let them choose. If they take too long to choose, give them to the count of ten to decide, then (if they haven’t chosen) tell them time’s up and they can pick tomorrow.
Quiet Time activity ideas for little kids:
- sticker books
- beads and string
- dolls (babies, Barbies, army men, figurines)
- markers, pencil crayons and colouring books
- notebook and pen
- Perler beads
- Polly Pocket
Quiet Time activity ideas for older kids
- graphic novel
- Lego (any age, am I right?)
- notebook and pen
- crafts (knitting, scrapbooking, rug hooking), etc. If they don’t have any quiet hobbies, now is the time to find some!
- Polly Pockets
- practice hair styles
- paint nails
- writing letters
- word/number puzzles such as crosswords, sudoku and jumbles
What are they not allowed to bring into quiet time?
- Messy things like paint and silly putty. I don’t often let my youngest daughter bring markers in because she’s too apt to accidentally leave an open marker on the bed or carpet, or on purpose write on the wrap from my wedding dress that we use as a table cloth for the dresser in their Princess Room. 🙄For example.
- Loud Toys. Anything that ruins the tranquility of quiet time.
- Devices! No, really! Please, hear me out. A break from devices is so important! My children are almost always more disobedient and unruly after they’ve had screen time. Can you relate? Do you have devices on so often that you haven’t had a chance to notice? Try it out – I think you’ll be thrilled with the result! We try to have no screens from Monday- Friday afternoon (emphasis on the “try”). At first they will likely nag you…a lot! But stick it out, you’ll notice that one day, they ask a little less, until they rarely ask. It’s not just my personal experience: a friend of mine took TV away from her kids for a month at the beginning of summer break, and shortly after beginning her children stopped asking for TV. When my kids ask to watch something, I just say, “You know we don’t watch TV during the week,” and they are completely compliant. Having time to be alone and think and have some quiet is very good for them, especially if they’re in a busy home. Our device exception is whatever they’re listening to their audiobook on (laptop, CD player, cell phone), but even then they’re listening, not looking at the screen.
But my kids don’t have their own rooms!
That’s okay! They just need somewhere that’s quiet. My daughters share a room, so my youngest stays in her room because occasionally she’ll sleep. My older daughter goes in my room, which she sometimes trashes. When she does, she has to tidy it up, and she’s not allowed to bring in anything to play with the next day. When my younger daughter was a baby she shared a room with my son, so my son would have quiet time in our studio/office while the baby napped in her crib.
Exceptions to Quiet Time
- Holidays (including Christmas break, but not including summer break -actually this past year is the first year we didn’t have quiet time over Christmas break)
- Fun days, such as when cousins, grandparents or friends come for the day
- Gorgeous days. On beautiful days when everyone is having fun outside I will allow the children to stay out together and play instead of having quiet time. I tell them that if they come inside (except to use the bathroom), or if I can hear them fighting, then they have to come in and have proper quiet time.
- If all three are having fun together. Part of the reason we homeschool is so our kids can spend time together. When they are all three playing joyfully together I like to let them. Sometimes that means we skip quiet time, sometimes we delay it.
So what do you do during Quiet Time, Jessica?
I thought you’d never ask! I eat my lunch a peace and joyous quiet! I was at a homeschooling conference where one of the speakers was going on and on about what a joy and privilege it is to be able to have lunch with our children. I felt so guilty! I HATE having lunch with my children! When my husband’s not there anyway. Once in a while it’s alright, but consistently? Ew, no. I’m always getting up to get them things, telling them to be quiet, “don’t be so gross”, etc. Why do that when you can eat in peace? And *BONUS* your food stays hot!
Moving on. *Ahem* I eat lunch, then have a cup of coffee while I read (or listen to an audiobook – favourite novel of last year, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson), I do food prep, clean (on occasion), craft (obviously), talk on the phone, blog (it’s Quiet Time as I type this), book appointments, paint my nails, nap (rarely, but it happens). Mostly I have my own quiet time to relax and recharge for the next part of my day. Occasionally I’ll pull out one child at a time to do some one-on-one school work or reading, but only if I’ve gotten a good chunk of time to myself first.
So you tell your kids to go to Quiet Time, so they do? And they stay there?
😂 Good one. You’re hilarious🤣. No, not always. But they’ve gotten much better. The trick, as with most parenting, is to be consistent. Clearly lay out the rules and the consequences of breaking those rules, and follow through with your consequence when they inevitably break the rules. We don’t need a perfect Quiet Time, but we do need our children to obey us, and try to follow the rules. A consequence that I often use, that I think is reasonable, is that the child gets an extended Quiet Time if they come out prematurely. It can start off small. For instance, if my son came out I’d just tell him that he knows he’s not supposed to come out and that he needs to go back. If he comes out again, I say, “Okay, you’ve just added 5 minutes to your Quiet Time.” If he comes out again I’ll up it to 20 minutes extra. If he comes out again he’ll get 30 minutes extra and have to vacuum the living room when it’s over. Sometimes my girls are very loud, and talk to each other across the hall. When it’s that extreme I’ll give all the aforementioned consequences to no avail. Then I’ll bring my coffee and my book to the hall and watch them until they get the message. If the consequences aren’t severe enough, or if there’s no follow-through, your children will not improve. You can stay calm through all of this (theoretically, anyway.) They already know the consequences, and you’re just informing them that they’re getting them. When you let the other children out of Quiet Time make sure the disobedient one knows that this is when they should have been able to come out, and their 20 minute consequence starts now.
Laying out the rules: what should I say to my kids to set this Quiet Time thing up?
- “Go in your room and enjoy your time there. You may come out to use the bathroom.” Try to keep it in the positive sense. “You GET to have some alone time.” My 4-year-old goes to her room of her own volition in the evenings or on weekends and says, “I’m just going to have some alone time.” This is not a bad thing or a punishment.
- “If you want books (our limit is whatever they can carry in one trip, and whatever they can choose before I count to ten), quiet toys (just one or two, we don’t want them to make too big of a mess) or a water bottle get it before you go in.”
- “Stay in the room until Mum or Dad come and get you.”
- “You can come out when your Quiet Time Room is tidy.” Note the positive spin again: not “you can’t come out until your room is tidy.”
The benefits of Quiet Time are so many that you are doing your family a disservice to not try it out. If you have any questions I would love to hear them. If you try it out I want to know! Please message me in the comments. Don’t be discouraged after a couple of days. You can do it!