I take pride in being my individual self. I like to do things on my own. I like to do them my own way. I like when I have organic and unique ideas for homeschooling that other people find interesting or deem a great idea. I struggle with criticism. I don’t like using other people’s ideas because I want it “to be my own”. When I read or see something that is a good idea I feel a twinge of jealousy and resentment that I didn’t think of it first or that I didn’t think of it on my own. Such is the story with “morning time”.
Morning time. It seems so self explanatory and natural, but it is so much more than that. Pam Barnhill wrote the book, Better Together: Strengthen Your Family, Simplify Your Homeschool, and Savor the Subjects that Matter Most. I bought this book months ago based on the title alone and having no idea what the subject matter really was. It sounded perfect. Who doesn’t want a stronger family, a simpler way to homeschool, and to spend more time with the subjects we love? I couldn’t wait to read this life changing book and anticipated its arrival.
I read it.
I hated it.
The entire book was about this thing called “morning time”. It had testimonials from other homeschool families doting on the idea that morning time had transformed their homeschool and family. I read the entire book and put it on the bookshelf. I couldn’t believe I had bought a book solely about “morning time”, and then actually sat and read it! What a waste of time and money. Such a basic and simple idea and I felt tricked. But really, it was just my stubborn pride and resentful attitude.
I tried to do homeschool MY way. Was I successful? Sure. Did I have hiccups and failures? Of course, it’s part of the journey. But something was lacking… I was missing a key part of our homeschool and I struggled to determine what that was. It was almost like that feeling when you know you’re forgetting something important, but you just cannot remember what it is you’re forgetting. I just knew I was missing something, but I could not pinpoint what it was.
The other night I was sitting in bed going over my homeschool plans for the week. I pop onto Pinterest just to get some inspiration and creative juices flowing and what is at the top of my feed? A pin that says, “What’s In Our Morning Basket”. A blog post about morning time in their homeschool. Then it hit me. What I was missing from my homeschool was morning time. I pulled Better Together off the bookshelf and started skimming the pages and reading my notes and highlighted passages. This time, instead of being hateful in my attitude towards it and feeling like I was not doing enough in my homeschool routine, I felt motivated, inspired, and happy. My own pride had kept me from embracing this idea of morning time. It seemed like such a simple idea, but it is so much more than just a morning routine. After feeling as though a piece was missing to my homeschool for the past few months, I finally felt at peace and as though I had closure and found the solution to my dilemma.
Morning time is an opportunity for learning. An opportunity for family time. An opportunity for growth. An opportunity to investigate a variety of subjects that we want to learn and teach about, but that don’t always get enough time in our homeschool day. Art history, science, US and world history, music appreciation, poetry, etc… All equally important in a well rounded education, but often times set aside so that math, reading, and writing can take the lead. Although morning time looks completely different in everyones’ homeschool, it brings about so many of the same benefits.
For morning time lots of people have a morning basket, or box. We have what we call “Morning Bucket”. This in itself is kind of a funny incident. While perusing Target one night I found the most amazing stuff on clearance, including a blue metal tub. For less than $5 I couldn’t say no. Since I purchased it, it has been sitting in my bedroom, empty, serving no purpose. When I finally felt the calling to incorporate morning time into my routine my first thought was that I could use this great bucket to hold our supplies! It was like it was meant to be! (Or I pretend it was at least… it justifies the purchase, right?).
In our morning bucket I have included a chapter book for read aloud (our first one will be The Green Ember by S.D. Smith because I’ve heard nothing but amazing reviews of it), a bible study book (we’re starting out using I Can Learn The Bible by Holly Hawkins Shivers), and some other activities like water color paints, sign language blocks, the kids’ art journals, and some independent self checking math activities. We have started out simple and small and as time goes on, I intend to implement a loop schedule for our science, social studies, history, and art/music history subjects. (Loop scheduling allows you to implement subjects daily that perhaps are hard to find time to do or that tend to get pushed to the side in order to focus on the “main” subjects like reading, math, and writing. More on this in a future post.)
On our first day of morning bucket, I took it slow and kept it simple. I may or may not have had donuts for the kids (it was purely for motivation not bribery…) We had classical music playing, the kids drew in their art journals, and I read Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales aloud (because The Green Ember had not arrived and I couldn’t wait to get started) as the kids drew and listened. One important nugget of knowledge I gleaned from Pam Barnhill, was how children understand and remember more than we understand and realize. I found this to be so true even on our first day! Around 7pm the night after we had done our first morning bucket, I heard my older two boys excitedly telling dad about the fairy tales we read and how they couldn’t wait to listen to the music and have me read to them again while they colored and ate breakfast. They had even asked me multiple times that day, “Will we do the morning bucket everyday?” I didn’t feel like reading to them or listening to music was out of the norm for us, as we do these things daily. However, the atmosphere and structure (although not rigid) was so calming, soothing, and enjoyable. It set the tone for the day and we all know how important it is to start the day out on a positive note. Then boys are so excited about it and love the books so much that tonight at dinner they asked to do “morning bucket at night”. Talk about a positive transformation and habit to implement into your daily routine.
Do you implement a morning time into your homeschool or daily routine? What do you call it and what does it look like? I’d love to hear others take on it and how it varies from what we do. Until next time!