Interested in more about the Morning Basket? Read my full review of Your Morning Basket from Pam Barnhill right here.
There are quite a few terms in the homeschool world that all (pretty much) mean the same thing. Or, at least, are referring to the same concept.
We call our special time together in the morning Morning Time and we refer to what we use in Morning Time as our Morning Basket.
Make sense? I don't know... "Circle Time" just reminds me of public school Kindergarten, so it isn't my favorite term, but to each, her own. We can call it anything we want, the idea is this - every single day your family is spending intentional time together reading and learning intentional, meaningful things, and bonding in intentional, meaningful ways.
For some Moms, Morning Time is a very short, 15-minute time with their children. For others, Morning Time can take up to 2 hours, depending. We are somewhere in between.
Cindy Rollins is kind of known as the homeschool 'founder' of this Morning Time thing (although I think she really just made it better known among Charlotte Mason and Classical families). If you click on the links below of her podcasts, you can hear her talk about the 20+ years she did Family Time/Morning Time in her home. She advocates that this time together can take 2-3 hours of your day or longer, depending on what you consider to be 'Morning Time' work.
This is not 'wasted' time, this is the BEST time! Reading, memorizing scripture, looking at art, listening to classical music, reading inspiring stories, talking with and about God... it's beautiful!
So, What does Morning Time look like for our family?
For us, Morning Time is an intentional time when we all sit and spend quality time together focusing on what we consider truth and beauty.
This usually includes prayer, Bible reading and study, reviewing our Scripture Memory work, Poetry reading and Poetry Memorization, Hymn Study and singing, Fables, Folk Tales, Nursery Rhymes, and Shakespeare, as well as Artist and Picture Study, Composer and Music Study, and Character and Habit study with inspirational/devotional read-alouds.
Yep, it's a full Basket. *smile*
Yep, it's a full Basket. *smile*
I've seen Morning Time or Family Time done differently by many parents, so you really will have to decide for yourself what it might look like in your home.
My goal is to have our children look at Family Time as a time of joy and something they want to do! Something they remember with fondness! Something that never feels like 'work'!
In fact, just the other day, my eldest son (who is also sometimes my hardest to please) said something that warmed my heart. The conversation went like this:
"Mom, I'm done all my work."
"That's awesome... oh, no, wait, you're done your individual work... but we still have Morning Time stuff to do, hun."
"Oh! That's ok! That's not work."
Morning/Family Time comprises of about 50% of our homeschool 'family work' but our kids don't perceive it as work because it is fun, engaging, enjoyable, and special!
Homeschool win, right!?
"What Matters Most in your Homeschool Day?"
I've been asked this question many times in various ways. Most homeschool Moms have probably wondered (or stressed) about the question, what really IS the important stuff? Especially when life gets busy; there's a new baby, visitors, a foster child, an illness, a time of stress, changes, moves, you name it - if a whole bunch of homeschool stuff had to go - what would you be sure to hold on to?
In other words, if you knew you only had a bit of time left - what would you want to be absolutely sure you got into your children's hearts and minds? (This is not often the case, but pondering this question can really help you narrow your priorities).
Establishing an intentional Family Time has really helped me see what truly matters in our homeschool. Having this daily habit or routine of reading together and focusing on those things that are important for our hearts, minds, and relationships has really grounded our homeschool in so many ways.
It has also allowed me to present a big chunk of our 'curriculum' in a way that is not perceived as 'work'! This is a beautiful thing because it means the children are enjoying the journey of learning so much that they are embracing it as joyous, not cumbersome.
So, I've been praying and seeking the Lord on this idea of What Matters Most for quite some time now. Oh, about 7 years?! *smile* And, there are a few things that I've realized should never change for us.
Monumentally important to me are the following:
1. The Atmosphere of our home. So, basically, is the Holy Spirit present and leading? Does the way I treat my children consistently reflect Christ's love? Do I exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit? When I do mess up, am I humble and honest in the way I approach my errors? And then, are the children growing and learning to be more like Jesus in the way they treat me, their Dad, each other, and others? Then... are we reaching out to the world around us with love?
2. Cultivating a relationship with God and each other. Families are their own little church communities. I firmly believe this. So, learning to serve God and each other is foundational. Not easy... but foundational.
For us, this includes learning more about God through His Word (the Bible) and hiding His Scriptures in our hearts through memorization. It also includes singing hymns and songs of praise together, celebrating God's Holidays and Feasts, talking about God's truths and how they apply to every day life as well as big questions like, "What is my purpose?" and "Where did I come from?"
This would include also how we are cultivating a relationship with one another. So, are Wes and I really investing quality time into our children? The kind that builds life-long, trusting, discipleship-focused relationships?
3. Encouraging our family to Feast on Ideas and to ENJOY the literary feast. Yes, we want to learn great things and we want to LOVE to learn! This comprises mostly of enjoying wonderful Living Books together that focus on good, true, and noble things, at also includes nurturing a love of the natural world/God's creation. This also means, endeavouring to think deeper, embracing an understanding of History, Geography, and Science (nature) and how God's nature and truths flow through all of these. Also -questioning culture, learning about heroes of the Christian faith, and considering inspirational thoughts and ideas.
So, from these 'Most Important" ideas comes our list of what to include in our Family Time. It is easy to see that for me, what I deem to 'matter most' in our homeschool is not largely focused on what many would view as traditional academics.
Sometimes, it isn't about more stuff. It's about the right stuff.
If I was to break down our day and put all the most important stuff in a basket, you'd have our Morning Basket.
Morning Time is typically what we do first because it is (to me) the most important 'work'. It is mostly soul work.
Before we worry about Math or Copywork or Writing or any of the stuff traditional school puts as the top priority, we are focusing on Bible, Hymns, Character Study, Poetry, Fine Arts, and wonderful, soul-shaping stories.
And then we can enjoy the peace and joy that comes with this choice~!
For us, Morning Time is very easy going.
We usually all get a little snack or tea (or hot chocolate!) and sit around the table together. Then, depending on the day of the week, we will work through a bunch of readings and activities. We read, we discuss, we pray, we recite, we chat, we read, we sing, we read, we narrate. We laugh and enjoy each other's company. Oh, and, we read.
And that's it.
Using our Morning Basket for Morning Time
So, our house is overloaded with two things. Books and Legos. If I could use two words to describe our home decor it would be, well, Books and Legos.
And to be honest, for ages, there was no rhyme or reason to how I organized our readings for the day. They were just stacked behind our book holder, which is actually a recipe book holder and our youngest referred to our reading picks as 'the book menu'. (I love this, by the way!~)
So, yea, books are EVERYWHERE. And though this is lovely in theory, it can play havoc on Family Work Time if you don't have what you need when you need it. Because if your kids are anything like mine - all it takes is for me to have to walk away and search for a book and I've lost them all in a moment's time.
So, here is the blissful vision of the Morning Basket area (this is at the start of the day...):
And then, here is the reality at the end of most days:
So, nobody's perfect but I can say from experience that having a Morning Basket has been wonderful for our Morning Time because all my stuff is RIGHT THERE. No searching. I grab the basket, bring it to the table or couch, and we can get started easily and flow through our stuff without interruptions(ish).
So, I've established that we:
1. Love Family/Morning Time and use it as a foundational part of our homeschool to ensure we are daily covering 'what matters most'.
2. Use our Morning Basket as a tool during this time.
But, I thought I should share with you what is IN our Morning Basket these days!
This might give you some ideas for your own family as you either think about starting this habit in your family or continue to nurture it. The book lists (apart from scripture) may change, but the heart of idea stays the same.
Our Morning Basket is for a 10, almost 9, and 7 year old, for reference!
So, here goes...
What's in our Morning Basket right now?
- The Bible - we are using The NIV Adventure Bible, and the Chronological Life Application Study Bible
- Our yearly devotional book - this year we are using NIrV Adventure Bible Book of Devotions for Early Readers
- Morning Time Binder - this is a little folder that I put together and stays in our Morning Basket. This includes our Prayer and Poetry Memory work (right now this includes The Lord's Prayer and several short poems from Christina Rossetti), Hymns and songs we are working on (right now we've got This is My Father's World, Take My Life and Let it Be, Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages, The Wondrous Cross, and various bible songs), Blessings (like the Aaronic Blessing from Numbers), and the 10 Commandments and Apostle's Creed which we will be working on for memory work. I also have some rhyming prayers I would love to memorize with the kids. (This part of our Morning Basket takes no more than 5-10 minutes because we rotate every day between the various components.)
- A Child's Book of Prayers illustrated by Michael Hague
- Hymns for a Kid's Heart Volume 1 by Bobbie Wolgemuth and Joni Eareckson Tada
- Laying Down the Rails Habit Training Handbook (we're working on Kindness right now)
- The Children's Treasury of Virtues by William J. Bennet
- The Book of Virtues by William J. Bennet
- Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula (Christian Heroes study -1 chapter per week)
- Come Look With Me- World of Play by Gladys S. Blizzard (Picture Study)
- Claude Monet: Sunshine and Waterlilies along with various Claude Monet color prints (Picture Study)
- Beethoven Lives Upstairs by Barbara Nichol (composer study), last term it was Tchaikovsky Visits America.
- All the Year Round by Frances L. Strong (seasonal nature readers from the late 1800s, volumes by season, available for free online)
- Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by E. Nesbit (we cover 1 play per month)
- A Child's Book of Poems compiled by Gyo Fujikawa (we read a poem every day, at least!)
- The Voice of the Martyrs annual report (this might sound funny, but we use it as a prayer guide for the nations along with the map we received).
- First Hundred Words in French (by Usborne... we use this maybe once a week if we feel inspired).
Sometimes, we do our History and Novel Read-alouds during Morning Time. There is honestly too much variation to list all the books here, what I can do is give you some ideas of the books we are currently reading and have recently read:
- Can't you Make Them Behave, King George? by Jean Fritz
- The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
- Stories of the Nations and Stories of America from Simply Charlotte Mason
- various Nature Study picture books
- Boys and Girls of Colonial Days by C. Sherwin Bailey
- Indian Captive by Lois Lenski
- King of the Wind by M. Henry
- Ben and Me by Robert Lawson
Other books we've recently had in our Morning Basket:
- The Jesus Story Book Bible
- The Case for a Creator for Kids
- A Child's Garden of Verses
- All Year Long (poetry book from Christian Light Publications)
- Hero Tales Volume 1-4 by Dave and Neta Jackson
- Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley (Shakespeare)
And before you get super overwhelmed - we don't read from every title every day! Our days go on a rotation. One day we will read from Trial and Triumph, the next we will read some Shakespeare, the next it will be Composer Study... so it works out quite nicely.
Some Links I Found:Morning Time Podcasts
Cindy Rollins blog
CiRCE Institute - the long haul
GROUNDED, the physics of Morning Time
Teaching from Rest
100 Things for Kids to Memorize
Links to some of my other Morning Time Posts:
I pray this post is helpful and/or inspiring to you in some small way!
Remember, don't forget to check out my full review of Pam Barnhill's Your Morning Basket right here!
I've pinned tons of ideas, articles, and many of the books and resources we use in our Morning Basket on my Morning Basket/Morning Time board on Pinterest...
Follow Cassandra's board Morning Basket / Family Circle Time on Pinterest.