Do Mornings Well! Part 1
Do Mornings Well!
“Win the Morning, Win the Day!”
I see this quoted often in books, on blogs, Instagram feeds, and Facebook pages that are dedicated to productivity, entrepreneurship, personal growth, and habit development.
I’m not an entrepreneur, but I’m a bit of a productivity/habit/organization nerd, and over the last several months, I’ve been wondering how some of the excellent advice that is given in the business space might apply to homeschooling. One of the key concepts that I come across on a regular basis is the idea of setting yourself up to win your mornings. In the business world that often means being up at 5 am, getting in a good workout, answering emails, reviewing the day’s schedule of meetings, and planning out a list of tasks.
Winning the morning is a concept that can be applied to anyone’s life and I’ve got three topics that I’d like to share with you over the next several months that will help you win your homeschool mornings.
- Morning Time
- Building Habits
- Bullet Journaling
Mornings with my children have always been a treasured time. So much so that it was a challenging adjustment as my children grew and started to be out of the home most mornings with work and post-secondary classes. The memories of first morning smiles from my babies, first hugs of the day from my toddlers, and big kids who always seemed to be in the mood to snuggle first thing in the morning are some of my favourite mothering moments.
Our homeschool mornings have always been gentle and slow-moving, but productive. The nighttime nursing years rarely saw me out of bed before the little ones, but now, with my nursing years behind me, I’m able to get out of bed before my children and accomplish a few things before waking them up to get started with their day. I encourage you not to miss the opportunity we have to make special morning memories. It’s worth seeking out how to do them well. And winning the morning sets you up for a great day.
I first heard about morning time at a homeschool conference (also called morning baskets, lunchtime learning, together time, morning meeting, family learning time, and circle time). The concept is simply gathering your children together to learn something together and it is a great way to start the day.
We have tried implementing this concept at other times of the day, and you should do what works for you, but I think there are real benefits to sticking to mornings. Morning Time starts your day with order and routine, ensures that enrichment studies get done, and my favorite…if the rest of our day falls apart, we have still engaged in meaningful learning.
Getting Started with Morning Time
You don’t need heaps of time. Start by setting aside 20-30 minutes and build up from there. I like to use several resources each morning, but you can start with one, and add on as you go. If you are already doing a regular morning devotion, add one more component to your Morning Time to get you started.
Storage for Morning Time Resources
When I first heard about Morning Time, it was referred to as a Morning Basket and I opted to use an actual basket. We outgrew that basket quickly so I currently use a 3-tiered rolling cart, but you could use a bookshelf or box. Portable storage is ideal if you think you might want to do morning time curled up on your bed one day and at the kitchen table the next.
Scheduling your Homeschool Morning Time
Once you have built up a stack of resources you will want to consider scheduling. My preference is a flexible loop schedule. I set things up so that I can move a resource that I’ve used one day to the back of the stack to wait for another day. The only one I use daily is the bible resource.
You could opt for a set schedule too, where you have particular resources that are used on certain days.
I prefer to keep things flexible. I make morning time a priority but there are times where I have to set it aside or we have to cut our time short so looping through the resources seems to work best for us.
Ages & Stages and Morning Time Resources
I’m currently spending my mornings with my four youngest (ages 7-15). I have found that when we have used a resource that is geared towards younger children, the older ones have found the review helpful; when the resource is geared towards older ones, the younger ones still seem to be able to glean bits of information that build over time. I would encourage you not to fret over the age for which a particular resource is intended. The bible resource we are currently reading is designed more for my 10-year-old but I know that it is a helpful review for my 12 & 15-year-old and my 7-year-old is making connections to the resource we used last year that was geared towards his age.
Key Components of Your Morning Time
Devotions. Reading a chapter-a-day from the bible works well or you can opt for a Bible storybook. At times we’ve added bible memory work. And when we attended a large church, we had a special prayer project where we rotated through praying for our missionaries (a practical geography lesson too). I would highly recommend any of these resources; we’ve used many of them. The Ology and Wonderfull are next on our list after we are finished with The Children’s Illustrated Bible.
Other Bible Storybook Resources Include:
When you’re ready, add a creative component: drawing, picture studies, poetry, a simple seasonal craft, and music study are a few ideas. Keep in mind that the idea isn’t to do all of these every day. You want to loop through them throughout the week.
Read Alouds are my favourite resource. I’m always finding books that I want to read to my children and have quite the stack. Read Alouds help you introduce your children to all kinds of topics; during a typical week, we might learn about owls, a far-off land, a historical figure, and how cities are built. Read alouds are the best!
Review in the form of games, flashcards, and discussions. This is a new component for us. I’m trying to be more purposeful in our discussion topics and have recently purchased a few games to help us review math facts.
I haven’t tried long-term projects but I think this could work too. Personally, I would avoid projects for morning time that will be too time-consuming with set up or clean up.
While everyone is gathered, I like to spend a few minutes on the administrative details of our day and week. This is where I assign chores, give reminders about appointments, and review expectations about the grocery store trip that is planned for that day.
I love a well-written homeschool curriculum but the resources that I find that are easily pulled into our family morning time are my absolute favorite!
by Adrianne Curwen
Adrianne is a wife to a public-school educator/administrator and a homeschooling Mama to seven children, ranging in age from 7 to 23. She believes that we have a unique opportunity as homeschoolers to design individualized education that suits giftings, interests, and passions. She and her husband have used a blend of registered homeschooling, enrolment with independent DL schools, and participation in public trade school programs to design individualized programs for their children. She is passionate about using as many read-alouds, picture books, novels, and conversations to educate her children but also gets excited by the amazing homeschool-designed curriculum that’s out there. Adrianne is thrilled by her new role as Communication Specialist for Classical Education Books and is grateful to have an opportunity to learn something new. She is grateful, every day, for her saviour, Jesus Christ, and has no greater joy than when she sees her most important missions field walk with Him.