Over the course of our homeschool (this is our 7th year, yikes!) I’ve employed Morning Time at different points. When the boys were younger would begin our day with a circle, we’d sing little songs and do some yoga and then move on to reading together. Fast forward to life with a 2nd and 6th grader and this special morning gathering had slipped away.
As my boys have grown older I’ve definitely felt the pressure to make sure they are hitting their academic targets. Don’t get me wrong, this is a good pressure and it’s a pressure I place on myself. Making sure my kids have a robust and meaningful education is a big part of why we homeschool. But there are other reasons too and those are the reasons that I felt were getting pushed to one side.
When it came to making sure my kids had access to great educational resources I could give myself a big tick; but what about the more esoteric reasons I began this homeschooling journey? Charlotte Mason talked about education as an ‘atmosphere’, surrounding and steeping your family in the very best the world has to offer. Music, art and literature are all things I’m passionate about, but I was finding hard to slot them into our busy homeschool days.
Recently my interest was piqued when I began reading about Morning Baskets. These homeschoolers are using the same simple concept of Morning Time and elevating it to meet the needs of older students. It is a really great way to bring to the table (or in our case the sofa) all the little bits of learning or materials that don’t fit into traditional subjects, yet have real benefits for our children.
So instead of launching our day by moving straight into our academic subjects, such as maths or a writing project, we begin with our morning basket. Right now this includes a bit of an eclectic mix of things ranging from meditation audios to learning about Art History. I am still playing around with the format and it’s a bit free flowing right now, but I’m feeling happy that we are exploring the subjects that add a little richness to my kid’s education.
For ease of use I’ve developed a Morning Basket ‘spine’, a selection of books to reach for each day, without having to be too creative! I’ve been really inspired by blog posts I’ve been reading at Edsnapshots and have used lots of her practical ideas and resource suggestions. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve included:
Skylark – the sequel to Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachlan
Viking Tales – Jennie Hall We’ve been learning about the Vikings in our history and this has been a lovely way to expand on that.
13 Paintings Children Should Know – Angela Wenzel
13 Art Mysteries Children Should Know – Angela Wenzel
Winter Bees by Joyce Sidman – we’ve really enjoyed this book and I have a few more of hers lined up for when we finish this one. The poems are accompanied by information about the animals, so it is a lovely mix of art, poetry and science.
When I am using our ‘standard’ basket we will typically read a chapter each of the novels, 2-3 poems and a picture from each of the books. This usually takes 30 minutes to an hour, which is really great value considering we have touched on literature, language arts, science (zoology), art history and history. While we haven’t delved too deeply into any of the subjects, by touching on them regularly we gain a deeper understanding over time. As each book is finished I have something else on standby that rotates in to that slot. A novel, poetry, art appreciation etc. Simples.
By beginning together, we are putting our energies into the same things but also easing into the day when brains (mine especially) are still getting into gear. We are sharing thoughts and ideas that are simple but so enriching, but we otherwise wouldn’t make time for. I’ve also noticed that by beginning the day with couch-snuggling-reading-together-time, I meet with a lot less foot dragging from the boys when it comes to starting school. For some reason they find the prospect of poetry and cuddles more tempting than a maths lesson or some spelling review. Who could possibly have guessed? But really it’s the mental equivalent of veggies hidden in their snack. They get to ‘relax’ with Mummy, while I get to fill their brains with poetry and art history. Perfect.