A few months ago I put together a Morning Basket for homeschool. Every year I try something new and the Morning Basket was this year's experiment. We had been finding that it was hard to get to everything we wanted to do in a day and the Morning Basket has helped me focus and streamline my homeschooling efforts. It didn't take long for me to become a believer! Now that we've tried it, I think every homescooling Mama should at least consider adding this to her homeschool.
I was visiting a friend when I noticed a little booklet called “A Handbook to Morning Time” by Cindy Rollins. “Why would spending together in the morning need it's own handbook?” I wondered. It's a very small book, but it is power packed! In “A Handbook to Morning Time” Cindy Rollins described how her family would gather every morning, sing together, read the Bible, work on memory work and get a huge chunk of their school day out of the way before they ever stopped for a break. She shows the larger picture, how faithfully gathering together for morning time every day built up a solid education over the years and helped her children to form discipline by instilling the “schoolwork before play” habit.
Why Our Family Added a Morning Basket For Homeschool
This was life changing for me! In our home, I was waking up to an already-created lego mess (do they play with legos at night?!), breakfast chores were dragging on way longer than they should delaying the start of our school day and then it seemed like as soon as we sat down for school there was some kind interruption (usually child-caused). So frustrating! But this book offered a picture of a family sitting together, not torturously “doing school,” but simply enjoying each other and enjoying learning together. Something in my gut said, “This will work for us.”
It didn't take me long to find a second book about morning time, every bit as good as the first. Where “A Handbook to Morning Time” had been an excellent introduction full of resource lists, “Your Morning Basket” by Pam Barnhill went a step further and delved into more detail with tips and planning sheets to help me implement a daily morning time together it in my home. I was hooked! (Both books are excellent, but if your budget only allows you to get one, I recommend Pam Barnhill's Book “Your Morning Basket” as it goes more in depth and walks you through the process of planning your own Morning Time.)
What Is “Morning Time”?
Quite simply, Morning Time is a relaxed way to spend time together learning. It's a daily ritual where we come together in the morning and set the tone for our day by connecting with each other and then reading and recite just a few things. It's a little bit of effort each day that adds up to a lot of effort over time. We may sit together for an hour or more and during that time we discuss little snippets here and there… Bible, academic concepts, good character development, and more. We read, we recite. Obviously, an hour a day isn't a complete education, but it's a solid start. All these little steps we take each day during morning time are adding up to an incredible knowledge base for our children.
But more importantly, suddenly homeschool had become stress-free and pleasant again. We were spending time relaxing and learning together and it was lovely.
Peek Into Our Family's Morning Basket For Homeschool
For our family, the key to holding everyone's attention is to not spend too much time on any one topic, but also to find intensely interesting resources to share during morning time so that the children look forward to it. Here's what I've put together:
- Hymn Study – My children love to sing (especially the hymn “Sound the Battle Cry!”). As a family, we practice singing and memorizing our favorite hymns. (This could count as poetry)
- Bible Reading & Scripture Memory – Memorizing Truth through scriptures is so important if we want our children to be guided by Right thinking.
- Memory Work – Although we are not part of a Classical Conversations Class (and that doesn't fit into our lifestyle and family goals right now), I purchased an older copy of their book Foundations. After reviewing it, I believe it does exactly what the titles promises… it gives our children a solid academic foundation to build on. My children aren't thrilled about the memory work, but it's good for them. So we do it. The beautiful thing about Morning Time is that we only work on it for a few minutes and then we move on to something they like better.
- Next, we do a bit of Grammar. We're using the book Our Mother Tongue by Nancy Wilson. It's a perfect book for Morning Time because the lessons are divided into short activities. We can do an activity or two and then move on to something else.
- Math. Everyone is at different levels so it would be hard to do math drills, but we spend a few minutes of morning time reading a book by John Hudson Tiner called Exploring the World of Mathematics. Instead of being math practice, this book is about mathematical concepts like the history of the calendar, how clocks work, how numbers got their names, the stories of great mathematicians and more. Hearing about math in story form makes it come alive! We are really looking forward to reading the other books in this series, as well.
- Then we read a story or work on memorizing a poem, usually selecting something that has an emphasis on good character.
- Finally we wrap up our time together with music or art appreciation. Right now we are studying the various musical eras throughout history through a curriculum called SQUILT (which stands for “Super Quiet UnInterrupted Listening Time”). We have fairly conservative taste in music and I really appreciate the high-quality musical selections in this program (even in the modern era). But what this busy Mama appreciates even more is how easy SQUILT is to teach! I just open the pdf manual and do the next thing… I read some basic facts to the children and then click on the link and play the you tube video of whatever music we are listening to that day. It comes with worksheets and notebooking pages that are ready to go. This is one of my children's favorite parts of morning time.
Later in the day older children will do their English and Math and then we'll all do History, Geography and/or Science, Health & Nutrition together depending on the day. There's still plenty of time to go outside for some nature study, practice musical instruments and pursue their various projects. Morning Basket time doesn't replace school, it's just one part of school, but it's the heart of our school. It's a way of “doing school” that's connected, organized and pleasant. Yes, we skip the morning basket some days when things are super busy, but when we stop and spend time in going through our morning basket, our days go so much better!
A New Tool To Organize The Rest of Your Day
The morning basket has given me a head start on my morning academics, but I still needed a detailed plan to help me manage… well… everything else. Kimberlee Stokes at ThePeacefulMom.com is a seasoned mom who I have appreciated for years. Not only does she have it all together, but she's just such a lovely grace-filled lady! (The Peaceful Mom is a great name for her!) Kimberlee has written a back to school planner. While this planner isn't homeschool-specific, Kimberlee is a homeschool mom herself and she knows that being an organized mom is just a universal challenge. I've had a chance to look it over and it's a great tool for moms in general, whether you homeschool or not! In the Back to School planner bundle Kimberlee has included:
- 2017 Mom's Back to School Planner with ideas, calendars & checklists
- 12 Freezer Meals in 1 Hour volume 1 Meal Plan and Grocery List
- 1 Week of Breakfasts in 1 Hour Meal Plan and Grocery List
- 60 Hand-Illustrated Printable Lunchbox Notes (including Color-Your-Own)
- How to Make a Morning Routine That Works Mini-Course PDF
- Exclusive step-by-step sleep transition plan to get your kids back on track.
- Weekend prep plan so you can enjoy stress-free school days.
- Make-ahead breakfast recipes to beat the morning crunch.
- 42 easy-to-prepare meals with links to printable recipes.
- Printable healthy lunch box ideas list.
- Simple and nutritious after-school snack ideas.
- Printable clothing inventory to see what your kids need.
- Printable back-to-school shopping list so you know exactly what to buy.
- Printable 10 Minute Task List to prep your home for the busy back-to-school season.
- PLUS a handy printable checklist to guide you through the Back-to-School Plan step-by-step!
The Back to School Planner launches TODAY! It's on sale for $17 this week. Click on the blue button above to buy it before the price goes back up to $47.
And now, I have something super fun to tell you about!
It’s Back to (Home) School time!
It's that time of year, when many homeschoolers are busy preparing for a new school year. Some of you may have already started your new year, and some of you may have never stopped!
I've gotten together with a great group of bloggers to make getting ready for the new school year just a little bit easier and hopefully a little less stressful for you. How does $250 sound in helping you buy curriculum, books, games, puzzles, and educational supplies? Two people will win a $250 gift card to the online store of their choice (choices are Rainbow Resource, Christianbook, or Timberdoodle).
We know homeschooling can put financial strain on families – whether it's from living on one-income or buying curriculum for your children – the financial aspect of it can be stressful. Our hope is that we can bless homeschool families so they can buy the curriculum and supplies they need (or maybe a want you can finally splurge on) for their school year.
To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter. Now I know that is quite a few entries for you, but each of these bloggers generously chipped in their own money to bring you this giveaway, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries. And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are at winning!
Giveaway ends August 4th, 2017 at 11:59pm ET. Must be at least 18 years of age. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. Please be sure to read the Terms & Conditions upon entering the giveaway.