Before I discovered morning time, I was so frustrated!
At first, morning time was not even on my radar. I had never heard of it.
Starting our homeschool days off on the right foot seemed impossible.
I would wake everyone up early with the plan to hit it hard. Knock it out of the park. I had to do the big things first and get them out of the way. Math. Writing. History text book. It felt like I had to keep pushing everyone to do more and be better. I was going to prove to myself (and everyone else) that I could be successful at this homeschooling thing. I could do just as well as the public schools. No, better!
But it didn’t take long before the dread set in. The dread of getting up and forcing myself to start the school day, day after day. Push-back, fits and tears, and the feeling of always being behind some arbitrary standard all overwhelmed me.
Kids grew and changed, learning challenges surfaced, more babies came. Then I took everyone’s capacity to the max (including my own). I piled on more academics and stretched the days out longer and longer because it never felt like we were doing enough.
This couldn’t be it!
I was always exhausted, at odds with my kids, and felt like a failure. Something had to give.
It took me awhile.
I had to reset my priorities and stop trying to recreate school at home. I studied homeschooling books and philosophies, listened to podcasts, and discovered completely new paradigms for life and learning. Gradually, I tested the waters before wading out and letting go of the edge of the pool. I embraced different approaches and waited patiently to see the fruits of my efforts, to see if the changes I was making were really working.
One practice that truly revolutionized the feel of our homeschool was morning time.
Morning time is a favorite part of our homeschooling days.
And it doesn’t even have to start early. In fact, in this season of life (expecting baby number six), 10:30 am has become our sweet spot.
Morning time is part of our family culture. It is comforting and works into our routine. We enjoy this time singing hymns and folk songs, reading stories, reading poetry, looking at fine art, practicing art tutorials, playing mad-libs, memorizing and reading scripture together, eating snacks, working on projects, listening to the music of famous composers, or getting swept away be a family read aloud.
It really helps us to start the day with something to look forward to instead of slogging through intense academic subjects first thing. We can fill the morning with things we may not otherwise get to if we were constantly pushing through traditional book work trying to get ahead of the game.
You don’t have to do everything every day, or even every year. Just spread things out across the week and enjoy. You can assign different subjects or activities to different days, or use a loop schedule for more flexibility.
We try to keep mornings nice and relaxed. The kids find something to keep their hands busy (like play-dough, legos, coloring, or finger knitting), and settle in for the start of the school day.
Morning time allows me to bring all my kids together.
Kids across a broad age range can have that daily connection and shared experience before they go their separate ways to work on individual subjects or attend outside classes.
Morning time exposes kids to a wide variety of things they might not otherwise have experienced. It inspires kids to learn more on their own time. I’ve had kids find interests in geography and maps, writing and classic literature, cultures of other countries, music composition, nature observation and drawing, Shakespeare and theater arts, foreign languages, memorization techniques. And all because of morning time.
Don’t underestimate what your little ones are learning, either.
They are around rich language, beautiful art and music, and glean from what you are sharing with the older kids just by being present during morning time (even when they seem like they aren’t listening).
Your morning time doesn’t have to be long. It’s very adaptable and can be lengthened or shortened based on times and seasons. At this time, we do things I want to do all together first, then focus on the little ones for about 15 minutes. Everyone participates in singing learning songs, reading a story, or playing a short learning game just for them. It helps them to feel special and fills their little buckets before they run off to play. After they head off to do their thing, I can cover material more suited to the older kids.
It’s my hope that I can use this time to plant truth, goodness, and beauty in their hearts.
The Holy Spirit might bring a scripture or line from a poem to a child’s memory for comfort or inspiration at the exact time it is needed. And my own heart is being filled, fed, and blessed in the planting process.
Cindy Rollins has written,
“That is what Morning Time is. It is the daily collection of little grains of time that add up to a lifetime of learning. It is the daily sowing of the seeds of learning for the long haul. Morning Time is not about reaping a quick harvest of spinach or lettuce after a few cool weeks. Morning Time is about faithfully tending an orchard over long, long years knowing that the future harvest will be far more valuable than any quick crop. Maybe it isn’t even an orchard-this is homeschool carbon which will produce a harvest of diamonds for those who have the patience and the courage to go for the long prize.”
The subscribers only Free Resource Library has some morning time plans available with selections for scripture memory, hymns, folk songs, poems, and fine art.
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Thanks for listening, friend.