As more parents begin their homeschooling journey, it’s important to understand how to make the transition and the most effective way to start your homeschooling day. Let’s talk about what morning time is and why you’ll want to add it to your routine!
Every weekday morning I have a goal in mind: 7:00.
I want to have myself ready and the kids up by 7:00 so we can get a good start to our homeschool day. When this happens, we can usually knock out several subjects by 8:00!
But our reality often looks more like this:
- My six-year-old won’t get out of bed (she is an Intuitive Eater that needs more sleep than my other kids).
- My nine-year-old should be doing the farm chores, but instead, he’s curled up in a blanket wanting breakfast.
- My twelve-year-old is reading (not a bad habit…unless it’s interfering with chores and getting ready).
- My two-year-old is begging for new toys (we rotate them almost daily because he’s my Adventurous Eater that likes things to be new and exciting).
- Then there is Mom…trying to do twenty things at once to get myself ready, make breakfast, clean up the kitchen, prep part of dinner, start the school work,…
Before I know it, it’s 9:00 and we haven’t done a thing…and I feel like the day is a lost cause before we even get to snack time.
That was me for the past four years. I’m a get-up-and-go kind of person (which is why I’m up working at 5:00 am!). I like to check off my to-do list as soon as possible so I can relax and have fun later.
But my kids don’t always share my passion for early mornings. So as I was preparing for another school year I decided to try a different approach. This year we are starting the day with “morning time.”
Even as an experienced mom that made the transition to homeschooling years ago, this was a new concept for me. But it is very effective! With so many parents starting their homeschooling journey this year, I thought I’d share what it is and why it works.
Why a Schedule Matters When Homeschooling
It’s probably no surprise to hear that when you don’t have at least a general schedule for your homeschool day, not much gets done. It doesn’t have to be timed down to the minute with each subject, but you do have to know how you want to structure your day and what you hope to accomplish.
When figuring out your ideal schedule consider these questions:
- Do my kids focus better in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
- Am I a morning person or a night owl?
- What other activities do I have to work around?
- Do I have little ones that nap?
- How long do meal prep and mealtime take?
- How long do chores take and do they have to be done at a specific time?
- What time are sunrise and sunset?
- What time of day do we prefer to be outside?
The list could go on, but you get the idea. There are many factors to consider when it comes to establishing a homeschooling routine. The important thing is making sure it works for you and your kids.
Once you know the answers to these questions, you can structure your day appropriately.
For example, I am very much a morning person. By the afternoon I’m tired. My kids also tend to focus better in the morning, and the afternoon is a time for either outdoor adventures or quieter play while my toddler naps. So we try to do almost all of our school work in the morning.
What is Morning Time?
Morning time is time set aside for the family to come together for reading, talking, singing, and playing. It doesn’t even have to be in the morning. Though it is for many homeschooling families.
In her book The Call of the Wild + Free, Ainsley Arment describes morning time as an “intentional time together with books, songs, and games…it centers our children and sets the tone for the day”
The idea behind morning time is gathering the family in order to be together, distraction-free, and having fun. It should be positive and encouraging. It really does determine how the rest of the day will go. Morning time can include:
- reading aloud
- giving younger children attention early and getting them started on a fun project
- getting outside to explore nature and move
- group subjects like history, science, Bible, and art
By working together and making connections first, working one-on-one with individual subjects is likely to go better later. This is especially true if you are teaching kids in a wide age range. If you simply jump right into math and language arts as soon as your kids get up, you’ll often have resistance and bad attitudes.
How to Establish a Homeschool Morning Routine
While morning time may sound good, figuring out what works for your family isn’t always easy. It takes time and a willingness to adjust. Here are a few strategies to help speed up the process.
Ask your Kids
One of the best ways to figure out what works for your kids is to simply ask! Older kids will definitely have an opinion. Youngers kids tend to let you know even without specifically saying. My six-year-old likes to start with lots of snuggles and connection. My two-year-old likes to start the day with something new and exciting.
Observing kids is my superpower! So I love this method. For a week start your day with unstructured time. Watch to see what your kids gravitate towards. My oldest will always read if given free time. My nine-year-old likes to get outside and ride his bike.
Find a Common Interest
As you can see, every child has a different idea of the perfect morning. So it’s important to find a common interest. For my kids, it’s reading and nature. They all love read-aloud time and getting outside. Most days I try to start with some reading and going outside to explore our farm and write in our nature journals.
Sometimes we are surprised by what does and doesn’t work. So don’t be afraid to try different things.
My oldest does not enjoy math. For a long time, I tried to work on math right away so she could do it before losing her focus and get it out of the way. But it just backfired. It started her day with frustration and set the tone for the whole day to be negative. We had to move things around so we tackled math later when she was feeling more confident and connected.
Finally, don’t forget to include yourself in the equation! Even though I try to meet my kids’ needs. I have to acknowledge that I am a morning person and need to check a couple to-do’s off my list early in order to feel like our day is on track. So, while we do some reading and outdoor time right away, I do set rules about when chores need to be done and when our other subjects need to get going.
Start Your Day with Intention
At the end of the day, the important part of morning time is starting your day with intention. Focus on what your family values. That could be:
- quality literature
- physical connection
- good conversations
- filling out day planners and setting goals
This will help your kids feel loved and supported. They will learn how to set goals and stay organized. They will also learn to respect others’ time. Working together as a family to focus on your values and meet everyone’s needs is one of the most important lessons your kids will ever learn. Morning time is a great way to accomplish that.
Can Anyone Have Morning Time?
Even if you are still on the fence about homeschooling, have opted for remote learning, or are doing in-person learning, morning time is still a great practice for your family. Get the kids up ten minutes early to make sure there is time to snuggle or read a good book before the busyness of the day begins.
If mornings are just too rushed, turn your morning time into bedtime. Make evenings calm and relaxing, play a family game, read a book, or listen to soothing music together. Ending the day with connection will help your kids sleep better and even start the next day with a positive attitude.
Does Morning Time Work?
Morning time is a great strategy to set the tone for your day and make your children feel loved and connected. However, you can’t let it take over your day. It’s easy to let morning time turn into a day of fun and play without accomplishing the rest of your schoolwork.
As I’ve incorporated morning time into our routine this year, I’ve found that I have to set a time limit. We get one hour of morning time and then it’s time to move on to other subjects. I help my kids ease into the day with the things they enjoy. But I also meet my needs of staying on task and having sufficient time for the rest of our work.
Morning time is a wonderful homeschooling strategy when kept in balance with your other demands. This way everyone wins!