This post contains affiliate links for products I have been very blessed by personally.
When I first got started homeschooling, or rather, tried to figure out how the heck to start homeschooling my two unruly, fiesty little boys who had very little experience with any kind of structured learning, I was lost. It seemed impossible to get them to sit still through anything, and they had the attention spans of flies.
I have come to learn, however, that at their age, this is to be expected! What I’ve learned to develop is routine, rather than strict structure.
For this reason, I have totally fallen in love with our morning time routine. I am a fan of the Charlotte Mason and classical methods of homeschooling, so, since my boys are only three and five, there’s not much structure to our homeschool day apart from our morning time ritual. I do a lot of very gentle academic work with them, but don’t follow a curriculum (other than what I come up with on my own).
So, rather than a strict schedule, I just make sure to set aside some time for “homeschooling”, i.e. time exclusively for my boys as opposed to juggling housework and wage work while watching them. Most of this time is spent outside, exploring, reading books together, coloring, practicing tracing or cutting, or just hanging out and being goofy.
Since prior to discovering Charlotte Mason, I had been so lost on how to apply more structured learning to our day when my boys seemed to resist it so much, learning that many educational advocates such as Mason don’t push anything academic until age six was a huge load off for me.
I recently finished the Charlotte Mason book, Habits: The Mother’s Secret to Success, which I highly recommend to any homeschooling/unschooling mom. It’s all about establishing a foundation of good habits in young children, not just for the sake of education but for life in general. I feel like this captures the whole spirit of homeschooling so well, and really hit home for me.
So, I felt that a general routine for our homeschool day, especially first thing in the morning, was a great way to ease us into a more structured day and a repeating schedule, without pushing academics too hard.
What I’ve come up with has been such a blessing to me, and my children enjoy it very much. It doesn’t take long, and it always seems to change the whole trajectory of our day. My routine is as follows:
I wake up before anyone else in the house, and take the opportunity to pray and study my Bible (more on my Bible study method soon, I promise!) Then, my husband gets up and I make his breakfast and lunch, and we eat breakfast while he watches YouTube and I browse my blogroll or the day’s news stories. Then, he’s off to do his Bible study and get ready for work, while I throw on some clothes and get to work.
I work until the boys get up. When they do, I make them breakfast as they eat, we start our morning time. Next to our table I keep a desk and a cork board that acts as a sort of morning time center for our day. This is where I keep the materials I use for my Bible study as well as our morning time.
We go over the day of the week and the date, the weather outside and the temperature(see the free download below!), our country’s flag and state flag (they’re really into flags), the Charlotte Mason “I am, I can, I ought, I will” statements, and our Bible memory verse of the week (or month…I’m not strict).
Then, I read to them from The Jesus Storybook Bible (which I absolutely LOVE, by the way), do a page from The Ology (also love), and move on to a storybook. Some great staple purchases I’ve made are The Complete Thomas the Tank Engine Collection and Beatrix Potter: The Complete Tales, which are both beautifully illustrated collections with timeless stories that my boys love and I’m very glad I bought. We also have a huge pile of library books each week that we might grab from too.
At this time, if I have their attention and they’re interested, we might work on some spelling or tracing, or maybe counting or spelling, whatever strikes our fancy at the time. Sometimes we just move onto the sofa and keep reading, or into their playroom and set up trains or do puzzles.
Often, though, especially now that the weather’s warmer, we just throw on our outdoor clothes and get playing. We sit in the sun and read, or they practice on their balance bikes, dig in the dirt with their construction vehicles, whatever.
This routine for morning time has been a great opportunity for me to spend more intentional, focused time with my kids, and give them the attention they really crave from me when I’m otherwise occupied. I find when I stick to this routine, they’re calmer, better behaved, and tend to leave me alone when I do need to focus on work or chores. Everyone tells me this time is so sweet and so short, so I’m trying to make the most of it I can, and learn from, and take advantage of, their natural childhood curiosity and wonder.
Ok, ok, enough about my morning time! If you’re here for the free downloads, here they are.
I have been loving how easy it is to display the weather on our morning time board each day, and talking about the weather with my boys. Simply click the link, print out, laminate, and cut out! I hope they are a blessing to your morning time routine. If you enjoy them, please share with your friends!