Starting with Morning Time

Morning time is a popular idea in some homeschooling circles. Most of the time, it’s encouraged as a way to bring all our children together regardless of grades or ability into a time of learning as a family. It’s a way of lessening some of the academic load by combining students to participate in the good, the beautiful, and the true altogether.

What about if your kids aren’t in school yet?

Is morning time still a good option for you? Yes!

I first began a morning time with my children when my oldest was kindergarten age . . . and I had a three-year-old, two-year-old, and infant as well. I knew I didn’t want to do a formal kindergarten with my oldest, and I was hearing so much about morning time thanks to Pam Barnhill’s podcast. I wanted to start sharing those good and beautiful elements with my children.

“Children grow up so fast, don’t they? Not a day goes by when I don’t say this to myself or hear it from someone else. Even so, I don’t always necessarily live like it is true.”

Gloria Furman in Treasuring Christ when Your Hands are Full

I was committed though to a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education, and I wanted to make sure that my morning time didn’t become “school.” Consequently when I first began morning time, I started it over breakfast. We had to eat breakfast every day so I wasn’t taking away from my children’s play time or outside time. I was simply adding value to an activity we did every day anyway.

I also kept it all optional. Once my children were done eating, if they wanted to get down from the table, they could. If they wanted to stay and listen to a story, they could. I never compelled them to stay and listen when they were ready to be done. Some days we might make it through a lot of “subjects.” Other days we’d make it through fewer.

“If you want reading aloud to make a difference, you don’t need to do a ton of it. You just need to do a little bit of it over a long stretch of time. It all adds up.”

Sarah Mackenzie in The Read Aloud Family

I was amazed though at how quickly my oldest daughter picked up on memory work. I began reading The Apostles Creed to my kids over breakfast; I’d read it once each day. I was shocked when my oldest daughter memorized it! (She was four at the time.) Now as it turns out, my oldest daughter seems to have an excellent memory. My next three children do not pick up on memory work nearly as quickly or as easily as my oldest does.

With that said, reading through the Apostles Creed with my preschoolers familiarized them with the language of theology. They may not have it memorized, but they became aware of the concepts. It provided a shared language in our family from which to talk about theology with my children as they had questions.

So what should you include in Morning Time? Here are some suggestions; please note I’m not suggesting you do all of this every day. Pick and choose what will work best for your family.

Elements of morning time

  • Bible time – either reading from the Bible or from a book like Old Story New by Marty Machowski
  • Nursery rhymes – Mother Goose is excellent for morning time. It’s available on Librivox.
  • Picture books – I would go to the library regularly and find beautiful picture books to read aloud to my kids. Some authors we like: Patricia Polacco, Tomie de Paola, and David and Sarah Stewart. Ambleside Online also recommends some beautiful picture books.
  • Catechism – This children’s catechism is great for preschoolers as well as older kids.
  • Singing – Hymns and or folk songs are a great addition to morning time. Choose hymns your church sings regularly or start following Ambleside Online’s rotation.
  • Chapter books – Young kids may or may not enjoy chapter books at this age. If your kids aren’t ready for chapter books, don’t push it in my opinion. There’s plenty of time to enjoy chapter books in the future. However, if you want to give chapter books a try, the Thornton Burgess animal books have been a favorite for my kids.

The best way to start morning time is simply to jump in. Pick one or two things to cover with your children over breakfast . . . and just start!

“The true aim of education is to order a child’s affections–to teach him to love what he ought and hate what he ought. Our greatest task, then, is to put living ideas in front of our children like a feast. We have been charged to cultivate the souls of our children, to nourish them in truth, goodness, and beauty, to raise them up in wisdom and eloquence.”

Sarah Mackenzie in Teaching from Rest

For a look at a morning time with older kids, check out How I Do Morning Time . . . and You Can Too!

~ Melinda ~

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