Feeling overwhelmed? Your homeschool day needs Morning Time.
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Here’s the scenario: You’re homeschooling multiple kids from 6th grade down to preschool.
You’re only one person.
How on earth do you teach all of your kids what they need without splitting yourself into 4-5 different people (this is every mom’s dream super power, right)?
A few years ago, we added something to our homeschool routine that was a game-changer.
It’s a concept adopted by people all over the place, but I first read about it in Cindy Rollins’ memoir, Mere Motherhood. She homeschooled 9 children (around the same time I was growing up in this brave new homeschool world). In order to save her sanity and educate her many children, she used Morning Time.
What is Morning Time?
Essentially, Morning Time is a short session on weekday mornings to cover all of our bases.
If you want to make it precious, call it a moment to read aloud, connect, and discuss important lessons with your kids.
If you want to be practical, it’s a routine that helps you tune into what you kids are learning and where they are struggling.
It typically lasts 1-2 hours in the morning, and it’s full of short, 15-minute sessions of various read-alouds, memory practice, and if you’re feeling brave, activities. Morning Time is similar to the concept they used in one-room schoolhouses, where one teacher guided kids of all ages through their lessons simultaneously.
For example, our Morning Time currently consists of Bible, Character, Memory work, History, and Math Drills. I have kids in grades 1-6. They all benefit from these lessons. The older kids catch on to more than the younger kids, and the younger kids catch on to what they are ready for right now.
No mom-guilt here. You make Morning Time work for you. There are no hard and fast rules.
But here are a few rules we follow.
Morning Time Rules:
- 15 minutes tops for any subject
- Alternate between reading and active time
- Give younger kids a coloring book or blank paper to doodle on during read alouds
- You don’t have to do this every single week day. Do it however many times a week works for you
- If it’s all going to pot, cut it short
If your kids are active listeners (meaning they need something to do while you read), have them draw pictures of what you’re reading to them (precious), or do Morning Time over breakfast or a snack (more helpful in our house).
Realistically, we use a few swivel chairs in our living room that keep my boys moving while they listen.
What to Do During Morning Time
Here’s what we do during Morning Time:
- Bible/Character (15 min)
- Bible/Character drawing, writing, or activity (15 min)
- Math drills (15 min)
- Memory work (usually a Bible verse and poem) (15 min)
- Brain Break (5-10 min)
- History (15 min)
- History drawing, writing, or activity (15 min)
- Help/Questions time (20 min)
Other subjects we can do during Morning Time:
- Social Studies
Books We Use for Morning Time:
In the past, we’ve studied all kinds of subjects during Morning Time. Some books work better than others!
These books are some of our favorites. The kids enjoyed the content, the colors, the layout, and we all learned a lot from them.
Sometimes we read a book, and sometimes we watch a short show!
- The Mr. Phil Show
- What’s in the Bible
- The Book of Virtues
- The Bugs & Slugs Show
- The Bible Project
- The Chosen
- Jesus Storybook Bible
- What is God Like?
Memory work sounds way more condescending than it is. Children’s brains are so quick to memorize things, and what you memorize as a child sticks with you the rest of your life (ask my mother any music lyrics from the 1960’s).
Memory work is just a way to fill my kids’ memories with good things – not just YouTube ad jingles.
Currently, we stick to Bible verses and poetry. These books are full of excellent things to memorize:
- Use something like this for Bible memory
- The Dream Keeper & Other Poems by Langston Hughes
- A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennett
- What is God Like? By Rachel Held Evans & Matthew Paul Turner (currently using this for copywork too, so we’re slowly memorizing it)
When my kids were little, we memorized by re-reading the same verse or poem every day (or so), and they automatically memorized it. Now, we still do that, but we also incentivize it with extra screen time for the older kids.
Currently, we’re using The Story of the World (we’re on Volume 2) for history. After we read a chapter, my older kids write a short paragraph retelling the story we read.
For geography and social studies (as well as to supplement our current history), we choose books from Give Your Child the World: Raising Globally Minded Kids One Book at a Time, one of my very favorite resources.
Typically, at least once during Morning Time, my kids need a break. They need to run around the house, go doodle on some paper, or talk about something completley unrelated to what we’re reading.
So we take 5 partway through Morning Time, and then we continue.
Morning Time segues perfectly into time with each kid to go over corrections or areas where they’re struggling. Not every kid needs this one-on-one time every day, but the opportunity is there.
What to do With Littles During Morning Time:
Toddlers and preschoolers don’t usually want to sit still during Morning Time (understatement), but they do want to be involved (always). This is what we did with little ones during Morning Time:
- Reserve special toys that can only be played with during Morning Time. Switch them up every few weeks.
- Draw a picture of what I’m reading about and show me afterward
- Color in a coloring book (can be related to what we’re learning or not)
- Snacks. Enough said.