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Morning Time has been a popular topic among moms as of late. How do we get our day off to a good start?
My homeschool is not super structured and for awhile our mornings have been more like “survival time.” I found myself starting the day by turning on the TV just so everyone would leave me alone while I got breakfast going.
But over Christmas break, I became convicted about establishing better habits and better routines. I’m also aware that starting new habits and giving up old ones is HARD. It’s a spiritual battle as well.
There are so many good things that could be done for morning time, but I’ve been convicted that we need to start with prayer. If I try to do a bunch of other things first, we don’t get to the prayer.
What Does our New Morning Time Routine Look Like?
The kids all grab their bean bags and head to the living room (sometimes with blankets too). The older kids are still half asleep while the little ones have been up for over an hour. We settle down and I keep it going for as long as I have their attention – sometimes its just 10 minutes or sometimes longer. On cold days sometimes I will continue on with a read-aloud to the older ones after the little ones have wandered away.
I’ve had these prayer sticks sitting on my counter for months(!), but we were never using them. I used them consistently several years ago before little ones disrupted that routine.
But now, I have decided to be INTENTIONAL about using them. We begin our morning time by passing the cup around (actually it’s the four year olds job to distribute them) so that we each have one stick. We then take turns praying for the person or family whose name is on the stick. We can pray for other things that come to mind, but the prayer sticks help us to get started and to be intentional for praying for the people in our lives.
I’m excited we are praying together more regularly – and not just at bedtime or meal time. I’m happy to be teaching my younger ones to pray.
It’s not easy though. It’s an easy thing to skip. I also recognize some spiritual warfare going on as we pray together as a family.
During December we celebrated Advent with a Jesse tree and accompanying Scriptures. So, the reading a few verses in the morning has been an easier transition. Since our church Sunday school classes (both kids and adults) is reading through the book of John, that is what we are choosing to read together. The goal is one chapter a week, so the daily texts are not long or complicated.
The fridge that had displayed the Jesse tree is now displaying things from the book of John. I am using some of the magnets from our Jesse tree as visuals (sheep, light, John the Baptist, etc). We will continue to add to the fridge with various visuals, words or Scriptures to help us in reviewing and remembering what we have read.
This memory work time can be one of three things:
If I still have the attention of the younger two, I work with them on their AWANA verses. We may also recite verses we are learning from the book of John.
My older ones generally study AWANAS on their own. But if we want to learn a Scripture together, we might use this time.
CC memory work review
Review CC memory work (sing History or Timeline songs, etc).
This is something new we have started this semester – Poetry Memorization from the Institute of Excellence in Writing (IEW). We had memorized poems before occassionally, but now we are being INTENTIONAL about it, making it a part of the weekly routine.
I love this program for a few reasons:
- Its approachable for all levels of kids. My little ones can learn it as well as the older kids. It has a wide range of topics so that the poems are interesting to both boys and girls at different ages.
- It has speeches in the last section that relate to the American History cycle – Gettsyburg Address, Patrick Henry’s speech, and parts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.
- The introduction in the Teacher’s manual is excellent!! It explains the need for memorization as a part of linguistic development.
- It models good use of language – for students to speak, write, and spell. Then, students can attempt their own poetry – with a model in their brains.
- The back section gives ideas on elements of poetry to point out and on activities to do to go along with the poems.
- It has spurred on analyzing other poems and songs. Already – in the three weeks of looking at these poems, we have had opportunities to study and analyze.
Process for Analyzing Elements of Poetry
We happened to get two books from the library that were full of poems. One was a nursery rhyme book, the other a super hero book.
We copied one of the poems from the Poetry Memorization book. I had my kids use crayons to mark the rhyming words with matching colors. In this way, we were able to identify the pattern of the poems. This particular poem had a rhyming scheme of A-A-B, C-C-B. Then, we looked through our nursery rhyme book and found that several poems had the same patter – “Little Miss Muffet” and “Jack and Jill Went up the Hill,” for example.
We looked through all the poems and identified patterns. Some poems had consecutive lines rhyming, some had every other line, some had the second and fourth lines rhyming. A few were not really rhyming, but had repeated phrases and rhythms.
You could take it a step farther and have students write their own poems by modeling a pattern. We haven’t done this yet, but probably will later in the year.
On days that we aren’t in a rush to get other things done, we spend some time with read alouds. By this time, my little ones have wandered off to play, or they join in playdough or coloring with the older kids.
We have enjoyed reading The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (We are having a colder than usual winter here.) This week we read Paddle-to-the-Sea.
Updated to add: When summer ended we added some Character Building Type books. I am currently using “A Child’s Book of Character Building” by Ron & Rebekah Coriell. I used this book when my girls were little and pulled it out again for my boys (now preschool). I feel it gives a framework for talking about character/virtues. There are four stories about each character trait – so we aim for doing one a week. (Side note, I showed this book to my mother-in-law and she said it’s the same one she used when here children were little. That’s to say that it has stood the test of time.)
I’m considering adding in something like the “Book of Virtues.” I bought one version of it and wasn’t impressed, but I think I have the shortened version. I like the idea of including it in the fall since we will be studying ancient history and many of the stories are ancient fables, myths or legends. However, I think it is more secular and I prefer the above book.
Don’t make morning time complicated, but be INTENTIONAL. Also, make it a time that the kids look forward to. (They grab their bean bags and blankets. They have a gummie snack during the Bible reading.)
Also, when starting something new, expect some resistance from the kids (It’s hard to give up old habits!). Don’t give up before trying new ways to make it enjoyable for everyone. Push through the hard days in order to reap benefits later.
9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9
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