We’ve been home educating for six years. SIX. And finally, I feel confident that we’ve found a bit of a groove. There are so many things I want to show our children- fine art, good music, history of our country and the world, fun stories, poetry, stories of missionaries, novels- seriously, it is endless. And it never feels like enough. And even if you don’t keep your children home, I’m sure there are things you want to teach or pass onto them. This is a way of actually adding it to your day, and making sure it becomes a priority.
The last two years, we tried Morning Time, or Morning Basket, or whatever the cool moms call it. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read a classical novel over top of five kids talking, rustling and basically trying to ruin your life, hopes and dreams and not to mention- their education- but it was too hard. I quit. We did it for a few days, and just went back to what we were doing. With a few changes, this year we’ve been going now ten weeks, and, like, added a baby, and I see no reason to quit. Here’s what changed things for us:
- Start small. This year we only started with a short Bible passage and science together. Now I loop the main ones (science, social studies, Bible study) and focus longer each day. Instead of going quickly through subject after subject, we stay longer in one, until we’re done a unit or at a natural stopping point. It’s usually four or so school days.
- Add one or two smaller things. We’ll read a letter together from our Compassion kids, a fun story that I want the littler kids to hear, a discussion on something in the news, a fun or inspiring poem: whatever I see the day before that adds a bit of life to our time. Pretty soon we’ll add our Advent stories and activities. We’re also always in the middle of a novel. Currently, it’s “Five Little Peppers and How They Grow.” This sounds like a lot, but it’s really informal and always under an hour.
- Treats. This is their favourite. We review flash cards (which I HATE but seem to be helping) of their multiplication/addition/subtraction facts. It is very important to me that they are super quick and fluent in these. They get a chocolate chip for every two they get right, which is a pretty big incentive.
- Memory work. This has slid to the back burner so far this year, but we will start this again on Monday. For real.
- Prep. Have what you need where you’ll be. Unless you have great experience herding cats, you don’t want to be scurrying around and looking for stuff: they scatter. This is also why we haven’t been memorizing Bible verses. I keep forgetting to print one out for them to read (I love the ones online that have nice pictures in the background.)
- Busy hands. Last year, I spent too much time trying to find quiet activities for them to do. One had puzzles, one play dough, and on and on. It made the room a disaster, and was just all around too hard. Now I let them do what they want quietly, but they have to get it and clean it up themselves. So far, they’ve been using the Draw Right Now! books, or just colouring. The toddler snuggles with me, or colours, and the baby play with toys in her exersaucer.
- Routine. This is everything. It has to be done most of the days. Maybe not every single day, because this is real life, but a majority. If your children are in school, maybe it’s while they eat a snack when they get home, or before bed. For us, it’s first thing in the morning, so I can snuggle on the couch and enjoy my collagen tea. It may sound weird, but I do NOT read bedtime stories. I am done by evening, and have no patience. We do all of it during the day instead. Find a time when you are at your most “Mom.”
- Time. We have to start by a certain time, or I feel like I’m under pressure with fitting in some outside play and getting everything done by lunch. We are usually done school by 11:30, which works well with lunch prep, but if we start too late everyone starts petering out and losing their focus. I have to get up at a certain time- and get them up by a certain time- or it really affects our day. It’s kind of embarrassing, but I am not talking about a 5:30 am wake up here. Normally we are all up at 8:30. Once you add chores and breakfast, its starts to feel like a countdown. I was hoping with DST it would become 7:30, but so far, nope. No matter what, we stop Morning Time at 10, so I can nurse the baby and rest my voice before their individual studies.
- Perseverance. Whether you send your kids on the bus or keep them home, your focused time is so incredibly important. You have knowledge that is worthwhile to be passed on to them. Just the sound of your voice inspires something huge in their souls. Make a time each day, even just 15-20 minutes, where you impart beauty on their lives. Whether it’s Bible stories and prayer, or a favourite book of your childhood, or real life stories of courage and bravery- all of it matters to your children and your relationship with them. Obviously, I’m a huge advocate for literacy, reading and books in general, but just having a topic of discussion in mind to share and hear their thoughts on can enrich your relationship.
How about you? Do you share time with your children every day that they can count on? Do you do a morning time? I would love to hear about it!