I’ve tried many homeschool methods and schedules over my 20 years of homeschooling. Our prefered homeschool methods and schedules have changed with each year depending on the age and number of kids, mom’s health and a myriad of other factors. However, Morning Time (MT) has consistently been a part of our homeschool days for as long as I can remember. You could say it is one of my favorite homeschool hacks. Here’s why.
What is Morning Time?
As awesome as MT is, it really isn’t especially complicated, which is likely why it has remained a part of our homeschool day for so long! MT is the practice of gathering the entire family at some central location (often the dining room table) every morning to start the day together.
Some people focus on the arts, memorization of poetry or other information, or reading good books. Others use this time more practically to combine teaching of multiple ages in a busy homeschool.
By setting aside between 20 minutes and an hour or so each day and rotating through a variety of short, simple subjects, families are able to accomplish a lot of learning – a few minutes per day.
What we do during morning time
What we do during morning time varies every year, even every season. It is a very practical practice that can include anything that your family wants to learn. Here are a few regular things that we do each morning:
- Open the day with a prayer or inspirational quote
- Listen to beautiful music or observe inspiring art
- Read and/or memorize poetry
- Practice memory work
- Read out loud (or listen to audio books together)
We have also done nature study or other science projects, reviewed our maps for geography, practiced math drills, written letters or cards, talked about family struggles, had a tea party etc.
What Makes a Successful Morning Time
Start with music. I splurged on Pandora Internet Radio with no ads ($4.99/month) and this awesome Bluetooth speaker last year. Just choose a musician or musical genre that you like and Pandora will create a personalized ‘station’ that plays their music and more like it. Our kids know that when the music starts, it’s time to head to the table for our MT.
Short and simple lessons. The beauty of MT is that you are able to do smaller subjects that otherwise would likely get lost in the shuffle. Listening to one song, enjoying one piece of art, reading and reciting a poem or remembering the territories of Canada are all quick lessons. The variety adds to the fun and ease of this hour or so of our mornings.
Reading aloud. For the life of me I cannot fathom why I have such a hard time making a habit of reading aloud to my kids. I know that tremendous benefit to reading aloud yet the days pass and we haven’t cracked a book together.
If you have been listening in on my weekly Facebook Live broadcasts, you may know that I have been binge listening to some of my favorite podcasts lately including The Read Aloud Revival with Sarah MacKenzie. Sarah is such an inspiration in so many ways but especially in the area of reading aloud to our kids.
Did you know that by reading only 10 minutes a day 5 days a week during the school year, you will have read over 30 hours together? Anyone can read 10 minutes a day, especially if the habit is anchored to another habit such as Morning Time.
Sarah recommended allowing kids to read the fluff that they enjoy (obviously nothing immoral, etc) during their personal reading time and using family read aloud time to conquer the classics and other good literature that are on your bucket list. I found this method very freeing for my perfectionist mindset!
Combining subjects. Morning time is an ideal way to cover subjects like Science, History, Art or Music with all of your kids at once. A general rule of thumb is to aim the level of your studies to your older kids and allow the younger kids to follow along to the best of their ability.
Start with joy. MT lends itself to an atmosphere of enjoyment. With the wide variety and small amount of time dedicated to each topic, kids are bound to find some joy in at least one subject!.
Customized to your unique family. While there are some awesome MT resources available for families, part of the power and success of MT is the ability to customize it to your unique family. Some families will plan every week of their MT while others will ‘wing it’ using whatever catches their fancy that day. And that is okay!
Tips for Starting Your Own Morning Time Routine
Start small. Start with one subject or topic at a time. This is a good practice for the start of any homeschool year. Pick one topic to get started and once you get up and running, add another topic until you find a good balance for your family.
If you’re interested in cultivating a morning time in your homeschool but aren’t sure how to go about it, you’ll love Pam Barnhill’s Your Morning Basket guide and resources. Guide, planning forms, videos and even a private Facebook group for more ideas and support.