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We are kicking off a new season of the Your Morning Basket podcast with a bit of a practical episode for you. Despite all of our years talking about and writing about Morning Baskets we still get the question — how do I get started doing a Morning Time. That is what we are hoping to answer here.

I am joined by the Your Morning Basket Plus Community Manager (and Morning Time pro) Dawn Garrett as we chat about how to get started if you have young kids who are just beginning school or if you are coming to homeschooling later with older kids. We break down the practical steps you need to take as well as how to troubleshoot any issues that come up. We can’t wait for you to listen.

Pam: This is Your Morning Basket where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day. Hi everyone. And welcome to episode 96 and a brand new season of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host. And I am so happy that you are joining me here today. Well, we are looking forward to kicking off a new season of the podcast. And so before we get started, let me give you a little preview of what we have in store for you coming up this season are fan favorites, Andrew Pudewa, and Cindy Rollins, as well as podcasts about music, art books, leveling up your boarding time to include your older kids with your younger kids, how to follow some rabbit trails and so much more. We’re just so excited to be bringing you a brand new season. [spp-transcript]

Well, on today’s episode of the podcast, I have Dawn Garrett, who is the community manager at your morning basket plus. And on today’s episode, we are talking all about getting started with the Morning Time. So if you have heard about this morning time thing, and you are wondering, what does this even look like? How do I begin this episode is for you.
And we’re going to be talking about getting started when you have a lot of little kids, when you have older kids, and even when you have a wide age range of kids. So it’s not just a getting started for the younger crowd, but getting started for everyone. So another way to get started with doing morning time is to head on over and check out some of the resources that we have for you
Over there, you can find our Your Morning Basket plus subscription. This is a fabulous way to start because we lay everything out for you. We’ve chosen the books, the poem, the music, the art, everything that you need. And all you have to do is open and go. So you can find some morning time plans. And if you click on over to in the green, get the tools button, you can find information about our subscription there. We have monthly and annual payment options for you. So do go check that out and now on with the rest of the podcast.
Welcome. Welcome everyone to a brand new season of the Your Morning Basket podcast. We’re so happy that you’re joining us here.
And I am joined here today by one of my very favorite people in the whole entire world. It is Ms. Dawn Garrett. She is the community manager for Your Morning Basket. So Dawn welcome.
Hi. Hey, I’m so glad to be here again today. Oh, so happy you are here, guys. I have to tell you that Dawn does a fabulous job nurturing the moms in our community at your morning basket. She has been homeschooling, how long now, Dawn for like 11 years?
Yeah. At least if you don’t count like the preschool stuff. So You have to count the preschool stuff. Cause we know you did preschool. Well, okay. So my oldest is 16 and we started when she was three. So 13 years, almost 14. Yeah. And Dawn has, and the reason I say that is because in our community, Dawn’s cautionary tale about preschool is well known. So we’ll have to point you to that one. She’s got a wonderful blog post about, So you think you want to homeschool and what it could really look like. But yeah. So we’ve been homeschooling a long time and such a great support and mentor for all of the moms in our free community area and the moms in our subscription as well.
So we are going to be talking today about a subject that you brought up, actually, you pitch this podcast topic and it is all about getting started with morning time. So can you tell me a little bit about why you thought this was a topic that we should podcast about?
Well, I get this question kind of a lot of, I believe, never done. Morning time. My kids are 10, 11 and 12. How do we get started? What do we do to do this? I have lots of littles. How do I get started with morning time? I think this would be something that will be good in our homeschool or I have high schoolers. We’ve never done. Morning time. Should we start now?
I’ve I’ve gotten all of these questions in the last month and a half.
Okay. So you’ve just outlined the whole podcast for us, right? That’s all we’re going to be talking about today. Guys, if you have one of those questions, we are going to have your answer. So I absolutely love it. It’s like complete and total podcast outline, my job is done. I can just put my feet up. It’s going to be great.
These are questions from our community. They’re the ones that you have been asking to get the answers for. So we want to answer them.
Yeah. Yeah. And I think it’s going to be an incredibly, incredibly helpful episode. So, you know, the thing is though, I think you and I could both make this answer very, very short. The way you get started with morning time is to just start.
Yes. Just find one thing and just do it.
Yeah. Yeah. And I, and I’m, I’m not, I’m not saying that to make light of any of the questions that we get or any, because these questions all come from a very real concern that moms have is I want to do this homeschool thing right for my kids. And I think that that’s a lot of times where the questions and the anxiety comes from, but if we impart nothing else to you today, and we’re going to talk about a lot of things, we’re going to give you a lot of tips. But if we impart nothing else to you today, I think the idea that really all you have to do is pick one thing and just get started because as you and I know getting started or even getting restarted,
It can be difficult.
And it’s 98% of the battle once you get started and you see how it just mourning time will organically grow. It will just, oh, can I do this in morning time? Oh, how does this work? Where, you know, how could we do this with all of the kids all at once? It just, it just becomes very natural. And sometimes it will grow out of hand if you aren’t careful.
Oh yeah. That could be a whole other podcast. But actually I think we’ve got another podcast on kind of that topic coming up later this season, but yeah, but it all begins with a single very, very small, very, very simple action. And that action could be something as simple and as small as, you know, bringing all your children together and saying a prayer together at the start of every school day or
Sure. That’s yeah. Or reading a poem. Yeah. Reading a chapter From a read aloud, you know, a picture book, if your kid’s singing a song. Yeah. Singing to hymn.
So all of those actions, if you’re like, where do I start with morning time, all of those actions could work. You do that one thing tomorrow and you’ve done it. You’ve started with morning time. Now, what makes this morning time as opposed to, and I’m not going to tell you it’s the time of day or the fact that you’ve done it in the morning.
What makes this morning time is if you do it again and then you do it again and then you do it again. So it’s the repetitive action that actually, you know, cause morning time is a habit. Right?
Right. Absolutely. The more consistently you do it, the easier it will become to just oh yeah. It’s that time. Yeah.
Yeah. So I think when you think about what is morning time, what is a morning basket? What is circle time? And you can use any of those terms interchangeably. It is just simple, simply a time in your homeschool when all of your children are together learning together. And it’s something that you repeat consistently in your homeschool over time. I think in Better Together, you talk about ritual as part of it, it becomes a ritual part of Your day.
Yeah. Very much so. Very much so. And it doesn’t have to happen. First thing though, it’s sometimes it’s lovely that it does because it really can set the tone for the rest of your school day. But you can, you can, you know,peg it to lunch. You can peg it to a little one’s nap times. Just anything like that. But yes, just starting with that one small thing. So if you, if you do nothing else after you listened to this podcast, find one thing that you enjoy doing with your children and do it tomorrow and just challenge yourself. Like, can I do this three times this week?
Can I do this four times next week and keep it that simple? Because I think one of the places that moms get hung up when they kind of come into this idea, when they’re introduced to this idea, when they think, oh, this would be a great thing. And they see the morning times that are out there, or they see the morning time plans that are out there. And they’re like, this is where I have to start.
No, you really do not have to start with a large amount of things. It’s better to start with less.
Yeah. And I, I think actually that’s, that’s one of the main mistakes that’s kind of made is that they think they’ve got to start with a Morning Time. That looks like somebody who’s been doing it for a few years.
And, and, and that’s where the stumbling block comes in. Right?
Absolutely. Because remember we’re building habits and when you are building habits, you have to, and habits and lifestyle. When you’re, when you’re building that you have to start with what you can do, which is probably a very little bit, and then you add the next thing later and then you add the next thing. But you start with just the, the first walk in the morning, right? Just the first thing.
Yeah. I was actually thinking about that because Dawn has actually been my inspiration. She started on a health journey in late March of 2020. And she started walking and she’s added other little habits as she went along and she’s lost, can I say it like 50 pounds right over the past year. So it’s been a little over a year now and I’m like, man, she is just so inspiring. And so I have picked her brain a couple of times. Like I go back, I keep going back to her saying, could you just tell me again, how did this? And she told one of the things she told me was, you know, I started walking in the morning and then they added a walk later in the day and they added a walk at lunch and this really stuck with me. She said at first it was really hard. And then it got easier. And so, you know, as I’m sitting here now barely reaching a lot of day 7 to 10,000 steps on my Fitbit.
And you know, Dawn’s at 15 to 17,000 steps when I have to keep reminding myself is Dawn said it was hard in the beginning. And she was barely getting 10,000 steps. Most days it took a year for 15 to 17 to become the norm. And now it’s not as difficult is it.
No, it isn’t, it, we, we find excuses to go for a walk, which is great. So this kind of the same thing with morning time is it can be really hard, but as we go on, like, we find excuses to read a book at dinner with dad, which is kind of like a second morning time during the day, or we, you know, the kids ask for it. Yeah. And you just kind of start to see how it shapes the atmosphere of your home, the lifestyle of your home. And it just makes a difference. Yeah. But when you start just like you can’t compare your, I can’t compare my beginning walking to Dawn, you know, who’s been doing it for over a year. You can’t compare your beginning morning, time to Dawn. Who’s been doing morning time now for, you know, a good 11 years or something like that.
And so it’s, you, you have to be careful not to make those comparisons and to realize that, you know, if you walk to the end of your driveway, if you do the one thing and you do it consistently, that’s where you start. And so I just cannot stress enough that really, really, it starts with starting with one thing.
If you listened to this podcast much at all, you know, that we always say start small and build slowly and yeah. Start small. And I promise if you start small and work consistently, you will start to build and then your morning time will flesh out more and more.
Yeah. Okay. So we’ve driven that one, home, so lets address, some of these other, like, take that part please and run with it, but let’s address some of these other questions that have come up in some of these other situations where, you know, like I have a 10 year old, 11 year old and a, you know, a seven year old, how do I get started with morning time with those particular ages?
Is it, you know, is it too in and what, what does it look like? So what would you, what advice would you give for somebody who has some kids who are honestly, in what I would consider kind of the ages of kind of what could be the golden age of morning time? Because it’s such an easy age.
It is a great age for morning time and absolutely it’s not too late. You’re going to have to get some buy-in from the 12 year old, probably, Hey, we’re going to study these things together. It’s going to help our school day overall, You know, it’s going to help your seven-year-old brother or sister to understand better about doing school. And like, and it’s going to help build a relationships within our family, which will help our school day too.
So yeah, you’re going to have to get some buy in with that 12 year old, probably maybe with the 11 year old as well, seven year olds will probably just follow right along happily because they get to be with the big kids. But yeah, you can totally do a Bible lesson, a fun poem, and sing a song and call that morning time and go on with your day. I think that would be a great start for 7, 11 and 12.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think getting that buy in sometimes is, is putting something, doing something fairly quickly that the 11 and 12 year old are really going to enjoy. And so we always talk about age appropriateness with morning time, you know, what can you do that is really going to appeal to those particular ages.
Now, if you’ve got a girl there’s a very good chance that some kind of art project is going to be really appealing or time to work on, you know, if I get to paint or to draw or to do something like that while my mom is reading me this book, you know, that was a big appeal to morning time for my kids at that age for a long time, because it was like, oh, are we going to do morning time? What they were really asking was can I sit here and draw my thing while you’re reading? Because that’s not like school, right. Can I sit here, draw my thing while we’re reciting memory work, if you have boys and girls, but you know, like what would appeal to them?
Like things like logic, something like the fallacy, detective or current events. My kids come to morning time for CNN 10 every day. It’s one of their very favorite parts of Morning Time. So finding some of those age appropriate things that are going to appeal to that middle age group and putting some of those things in early are so important for that seven-year-old, that nine year old nine-year-olds are. Sometimes that’s an age that can get a little sticky, Madlibs are often, you know, a really great kind of reel them in kind of activity as well.
Also giving the twelve-year-old something that they are responsible for. Something that they particularly love that they get to share with younger siblings is a great way to get started with those ages, if they like poetry, or if they like some particular silly story from when they were seven that they want to read, or, yeah, I think that can go a long way. I also would recommend taking, finding a book that’s not in anybody’s schoolwork, that’s not in anybody’s curriculum, finding a funny, engaging story that you can all laugh and giggle at together and that you will all just fun. No narration, no papers, no worksheets, nothing. Just read a fun, fun, funny story together. I think can make a big difference too.
Okay. So let’s, we’re not just going to leave them hanging without, let’s give them some suggestions. So one that we really, really enjoyed last year, that would be perfect for those ages. And I know that because I had kids who were that age and a little older is The Tarantula in my Purse by Jean Craighead George. And these were kind, it was kind of a memoir actually of her when her children were growing up. So she wrote my side of the mountain. And what else did she write on?
Th those are some of Nate’s favorites, my side of the mountain. And then there’s like a series of those, something about a Raven. He has them all. I have not read them.
Okay. So some more and link them for you. That’s the one I really remember, but, but these are like little, little vignettes. Each chapter is a story in and of itself. So there’s no storyline, there’s no thread that you have to keep going throughout. And each story, each chapter is its own little story.
And they’re just hilarious stories of how this family and their true stories have taken in wildlife and all the crazy, funny things that this wildlife did while they were living in the house. Another one I absolutely love for this age group. And I know it’ll work with this age group because my entire family fell in love with it a couple of summers ago.
And we did the whole series is the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place by Mary Rosewood. Yeah. And those were so much fun. Now I will say the narrator for the audio books for the first five audio books is just fabulous. So if you are a mom with some kids who are in this middle age group, and then you have some toddlers that you’re having to wrangle and run after finding a really fascinating audio book like this to play, you sit and listen to, except if you have to get up 15 times, it’s totally okay. Because the audio book is doing the work for you, but yes, we highly recommend that entire series. And it’s just so funny.
We are reading Penrod right now, which Cindy Rollins says recommended to me. It it’s probably for older, slightly older, maybe you’re early high school age, and there are some issues with it that you have to be careful with with the language used about people of other races. So I definitely recommended a read aloud that mom can edit on the fly, but it is so funny. He had to go today. We just finished reading today. He had to go invite a girl to the cotillion dance. And he went to all the girls and all of them already had their invitation. And he ends up at the one last girls, anybody but Penrod, it was, it was very funny. It’s had, it’s had its moments where we’re just all laughing really hard, which we haven’t done a lot. We’ve done a lot of moving stories. We haven’t done a lot of just laugh out loud funny story.
Yeah. Yeah. Love, laugh out loud, funny stories. And I think we actually have a series on the blog with books that are laugh out loud. Funny. So all recommended by Jessica Lawton who writes our morning time plans. And I will find that series and link it for you so you can get a few more ideas.
But yeah, so that idea of getting any, or really funny, engaging story in there for that, you know, 10, 11, 12, 13 year old crowd is going to be something that sucks them in. And then, you know, you start building the little things around it. So, you know,a few days in, oh today before we read our chapter, can we pray for, you know, the people in our neighborhood or the people in our church or something like that, or, you know, after you pray, you say, oh, we’re going to put our chapter book here and then, you know, give it three or four more days and then say, oh, after we finished today, can we sing some songs?
Now I want to talk about singing songs because you know, some of you guys may be out there going, my kids are never going to sing songs. Oh, I beg to differ because my kids love folk songs. And this is not something that we have been doing for years and years and years, we’ve always done music appreciation. We’ve kind of done like modern music appreciation.
And Olivia really loved like jazz. We’ve done last year. We did movie music appreciation and everybody tolerated that one pretty well. You know, I’m not going to say that music appreciation is my family’s absolute favorite thing. But this year we started singing folk songs and I’ve tried to choose, like, we haven’t done any of the slow plane to slow songs or like, none of those, we’ve done a Waltzing Matilda. We’ve done The Green Grass Grows All Around. We’ve done some sea shanties and you know, that was kind of what we did this year. And they just loved singing them.
Anytime I would play, like, even if we were grumpy, even if, you know, it’s like, it’s too early in the morning and I have to tell you, we could not do morning time early. They, you know, they still would perk up for the songs. And my husband comes down the stairs one day. He’s like, I think Thomas is in his room, singing Waltzing, Matilda. And I said, he probably is.
He was just like, how does he know this song? And I’m like, I taught it to him in morning time, but we enjoy it. It’s something that we, we really enjoy together.
Yeah. I think singing is really more important to them. We put emphasis on my, two of my kids are pretty serious musicians and we do composer study, but it’s not, it’s not necessarily our favorite part of morning time either, but we do enjoy singing hymns together. And I love my kids have gotten to the point where they can start to accompany. So I’m not trying to talk A Capella lead us because I don’t sing particularly well. But that’s the other thing, even if you don’t sing particularly well, you won’t hurt your kids because my oldest is taking voice lessons.
Cause she does sing beautifully despite all the years of listening to me sing. So I think singing is super important in morning time, especially as you’re growing it, toss in the doxology, we start with either the doxology or the Gloria Patri every day, even if that’s all you do, that’s a great start.
Yeah. Yeah. We actually end with the doxology everyday. That brings our morning time to a close. And so we do seeing every single day, whether I’m yeah. Whether we get to singing something else or not. So yeah. So I, yeah, singing is a great way. And sometimes we think, I think the thing I want to get across with this age group is sometimes we think our kids are never going to be into that. And if we introduce something in a delightful, playful way, now, if you come in there and say, okay, we’re all gonna learn to sing solfa, we’re gonna do scales. We’re gonna like do those Suzuki method of learning to sing or whatever, and sing the same songs over and over and, you know, go tell aunt Rhody or whatever. Yeah. They’re probably going to dig their feet in and not like it.
But if you come in with like, you know, the tick tock version of a sea shanty, which are really well done by the way for this age group and you show them and the like, you start, like, you print the words for them and you start singing it. You’re just going to be amazed. They’re just really going to think, Oh, this is kind of cool. This is kind of fun. And they’re going to jump on board with it.
So, And I think, okay, music has become so professionalized in our culture that singing at home seems awkward and hard for us. But I just want to, once again, emphasize it’s, it’s healthy and natural for people to sing and it’s really important. So I would encourage you to, to add some singing.
Yeah, yeah. And so much fun. We love it. We absolutely love savings. So, okay. So you know, what about if you have little kids, so we’re going to hit the teens in just a minute, but what if you have kids who are really little and you’re getting started with morning time in a way, I think this is, there are a couple of stumbling blocks, but I think this is probably the easiest way to start with morning time.
Absolutely. For sure. We started our morning time with one of those big blue preschool calendars. You know, that you add the number on the day of the weekend and the weather for the day, while they were eating breakfast. So contained at the table, eating breakfast, do calendar, sing a song, say a prayer.
I think, I think that’s one of the keys to starting with little ones is like take advantage of that breakfast time. Celeste Cruz came on the podcast fairly early on to talk to us about doing morning time with littles. And that was what she did too. She had all of hers contained at breakfast. Now, one of the questions we get from moms is when do I eat before or after?
Yeah. Yeah. After, I don’t know, I’m a mom, we have three stools at the bar in our house. You know, we have a bar where you can sit and eat there’s little countertop heights bar,
and we have three stools there’s space for four. Do we have four? No, we have three. And when my husband’s traveling are gone and he, he is occasionally the kids sit at the three stools in the night, stand on the other side of the bar and eat while I like clean up the kitchen. So, you know, it totally can be done that you eat before or after.
Yeah. We’ve always had a break after our morning time. We call, you know, recess or whatever. So we do morning time kids go on a break, then I can eat if I hadn’t eaten yet. Or, but I got to, especially with those littles, you’ve got to give them some wiggle time, some time to, to use up the energy that they just put into their bodies at the table.
So, So that, yeah, that’s exactly true. Yeah. That would be a great time with littles. Let them go and get some of the wiggles out before you move on to, you know, your short lessons of math and reading and things like, and take advantage of that time to, to go ahead and eat age appropriateness, I think comes back here with this set too.
Yeah. Heavy on picture books still. I mean, this is a great time to teach the Lord’s prayer to teach the doxology, you know, to teach some too. I loved using morning time to teach my kids the things that they were going to need on Sunday during worship to teach them so that so that they could participate from the time they were two and three, they could say the Lord’s prayer. They could sing with us when we were singing, even though they couldn’t read the hymnal, I tried to, you know, find hymns that we sang really kind of regularly, their eyes would just light up. I know this one, you know? And so that was, that was a big incentive for me for morning time when my kids were little, was making sure that they were familiar with what was going to be happening on the Lord’s day.
Yeah. I love that. I love that because there’s so much in, in worship that we take for granted, you know, and that kids in order to help them to participate and, and maybe even behave better in worship teaching them some of these things during morning time.
So yeah, that is awesome.
Was going to say my friend Kelly Combi used to do their morning time at the exact same time as worship as their Sunday worship. So that was the time of day when everybody was sitting still every day, not just on Sunday. So that’s just another idea to toss out there.
Yeah. I love that. Yeah. That’s such a great idea to do it at the same time, because then they get into that rhythm of this is when we’re going to worship. This is when we’re going to sit for a little bit. This is when we’re going to be quiet. Having said that, I think it’s also good to incorporate movement into your morning time for this age group as well.
And keep it super short. Like, you know, when you, especially when you first start, you know, even when you get a full-blown morning time for this age group, it’s probably only going to be about 30 minutes at most, at most. If yeah. If you have littles, you know, and that’s only, you know, that’s, if you’ve got the littles that like to sit still and let you repeat your books to them and you doing stuff with their hands, like this is the perfect time to bring out Play-Doh. This is the perfect time to bring out pattern blocks. This is the perfect time to bring out Magna Tiles and bring those things out. So when they’re done eating, you know, have the boxes nearby. Sarah Mackenzie talks about having a read aloud boxes for every kid where they have something in the box for them during read aloud time, you could use the same concept for morning time, where you have these little boxes of activities sitting next to your morning time place, and they can grab those. And then, oh, the Magna-Tiles are in this one, the Play doh’s in this box, that kind of stuff. Yes. We also have these things called Wedgits, which were blocks that they were just super fun. And actually they got pulled out this week. We had some guests at our morning time for a couple of days and a little guy who he just was in the room with us. He played with Wedgits, he played with blocks. He played with animals, he colored and drew. He sat on the floor. He did not participate in morning time, but he was there and he heard all of it. And that was exactly perfect. He was, he was not allowed to be disruptive. He didn’t even try to be disruptive. He’s good little guy.
But so if back to our 12, 10, 11, and seven, if you have a three tossed in there, don’t stress about making them participate in everything you’re doing, either just, you have to stay in the room and you have to be non-disruptive and, and, you know, play quietly here by mom on the floor. I mean, that’s, that’s perfectly legitimate.
Yeah. And, and, okay, so let’s talk about that because a couple of things can come up. First of all, when you start doing this, that three-year old is not going to be inclined to sit by mom and play quietly without disrupting, because three year olds don’t read the memo and get with the program quickly, right. That’s not their MO. so you’re, you know, you’re going to keep it super short. You’re going to give them the opportunity to succeed by keeping morning time, super short, to begin with. But there may be a period of time where you like where morning time is about training the three-year-old how to act in morning time.
But it’s all about re back to the habit and the lifestyle of creating the atmosphere of your home, where there are welcome to be there and participate as you know, and learning that they’ll grow into it. Yeah. If you keep going. Right. Right. I think Heather Tully’s episode, the episode with Heather tele, it would be a great one to refer, to, to think about how to keep those wide ages and stages together.
Yeah. Yes. Yes. So Heather has 10 kids. And so, you know, obviously there’s a very wide age range there because there are no twins in the batch at all. Right? Correct. Okay. So 10 kids, no twins, no triplets. And so she definitely has that wide age range and yeah, so it’s a matter of starting small, being consistent. And it, it becomes like, it’s just the thing we do. This is just how things are and how they work. But if you give up, when you get to the little hilly rocky part in the beginning, you’re never going to get to the, this is just how things are.
And I want to add in there for mom, you’re going to want to say, no, you need to sit here and be quiet for this whole time. You’re going to want, you’re going to want, like that control piece, that’s going to backfire on you. Most likely, honestly, letting them play quietly in the room is the best step toward getting them to participate. I remember fighting with my, my youngest is only, not yet, not quite three years younger than my oldest. And I remember fighting and trying to make her sit on my lap. No, you have to be still, you have to be quiet. You have to do this. You have, and wanting to like really exert authority over that three and four year old. And it made morning time that much harder for that much longer. So the atmosphere that you are creating, the temperature that you are creating in your morning time goes a long way toward making everybody happy to be there.
Oh, I love that. I love that. And, okay. So the next thing that comes up is well, you know, especially if your oldest is like seven, and then you have a four-year-old and a three-year-old or something like that.
Well, she doesn’t have to sit still. Why do I have to sit still? And my answer to that is you’re not four anymore. You know, you’re not three or a seven year old and seven year olds have to do things that are different than four year olds. And you know what it is completely and totally okay. To say that to your kids.
What do you say about fairness? Dawn? You have a saying is that you say, “fair is not equal.” Oh no. It’s Colleen! It’s Colleen Kessler where she says, “fair is not equal.” And so, you know, it just because the four year old or the 3 year old gets to get up and leave the table and come back again and leave the table and come back again, as long as they’re doing it quietly, the seven-year-old could be expected to sit at the table, you know? And so as they age, the expectations are going to change. And if they say, well, why doesn’t the little one have to do it? And, and I guess I say this, because I can think back to when my youngest was three.
And so that would have made my oldest about seven or eight. And we did morning nap time in a place that had a big picture window that overlooked the backyard. And in the backyard, I could see the trampoline. And so there would be days where that three-year-old, four-year-old would stand, walk out the back door into the fenced backyard and jump on the trampoline during morning time.
And I would get questions from the other two, why can he get up and leave? And I can’t do it. And, you know, my answer was always, you’re not three, you’re not four, you know, that’s why he gets to do it. And you don’t, you know?
Well, and I think in, in that episode with Celeste, she talked about how she would keep her older ones longer and morning time. But she trained the little ones when they were done, they go and put on their crocks and they go play in the fenced yard. I think that was something she talked about too. I think that’s a, that’s a really great episode if you have lots of preschoolers.
Yeah, yeah. It really, really is. And then, you know, I know that my little one, my three or four year old would wander out of the room. He would wander out of the room, back to his room. He would play for a little bit, he would wander back in the room, you know? So as long as you have safe places where they can be just out of your eyesight for a few minutes at a time, obviously if he got really quiet, that’d be going to find him and see what was going on. But, you know, then that’s okay too. Yeah, you’re totally right. Don’t fight that battle where you’re forcing them to sit there because you’re probably gonna end up being the loser, even if you’re the winner, You know?
Right, right. It’s going to take a number more years to get everybody acclimated to actually enjoying morning time, which you want everybody to enjoy morning time, including you. Yeah.
Yeah. So let’s talk about teens. So what if you are starting with teens? So we’ve, we’ve told you that it’s not too late to start. If you have a 10, 11 or 12 year old, is it too late to start if you have a 16 year old or a 17 year old?
I don’t think so because you yourself can start your own personal morning time. We talk about the peace and the mother’s morning basket. This is a habit for life that you can help your family to establish and to learn to, to live. I keep saying lifestyle, it’s a, it’s a lifestyle that we are trying to inculcate here. Right. So I think it isn’t too late to start, but you have to choose really carefully with a 16 and 15, 13, 17, 18. You have to choose. And It has to be like high, high impact.
Yeah. And so I think it comes down to two things. Two things are the key here. First that, to that age appropriateness, you know, and then also the, the posture and the attitude of a mom during this period of time during the day, because my relationship with my children has changed over the years, you know, in morning time.
Yes. Although you’re always trying to do that. co-learning where it’s not just you imparting knowledge, but you are all learning together. I mean, I didn’t have artists study and composer study, like we do them, so I definitely have been learning, but so yes, the posture, but with a 16, 17, that posture is even more of a coming alongside and listening And invitation. Yeah. And, and we talked a little bit about buy-in with the 12 year old, your girls, you’re going to also have to get buy in here with your olders, I think.
Yeah. Yeah. I see it as an invitation, an invitation to, you know, talk about some issues together. Like, you know what what’s going on in the world, or, you know, my kids just got their first job. And so one of the things that we’re actually probably going to start this this summer, even before we, we get to get back to school and morning time. But one of the things I see us doing in the morning time is it’s kind of financial literacy, you know? So that’s the kind of thing that I’m looking at doing with my teens. And somebody might say, well, where’s the truth, goodness. And beauty in that. And I’m like, well, there’s a lot of goodness and not blowing all your money and having good money habits, you know? Absolutely. And so, you know, just that, that would be a place that I could see us learning about those kinds of things in morning time and having those conversations together. And that’s something that would appeal to them. It would impact their life.
It would have interest to them because of the nature of the topic. And so I’m going to invite them into, Hey, let’s talk about these things. Let’s look at these things. I’ve got some videos to show you, you know, let’s have some conversations about this kind of stuff. And, you know, I think that’s going to reach them because they’re gonna, they’re gonna be interested in the topic it’s going to be relevant. Okay. I was actually going to ask you, because I’ve been also thinking about how to do this money management kind of thing. I think my kids are also getting to that point. What kind of videos do you think you’re going to use?
I’m not sure yet. I mean, we, the Dave Ramsey teen program has been recommended to me, so that might be a possibility, but then I also might just put something together myself, you know, I used a, you need a budget and they have some really great kind of simple that has a different share some of the same ideas, but also has a different, a different take, a different philosophy or some things like, so just not to get too far off in the weeds. Yeah. You know, Dave Ramsey is anti-credit card where you need a budget, shows you how to use a credit card as a tool. And so like, what’s more practical in our world today, you know, because they’re online fraud is very real and there’s an extra layer of safety from using a credit card. If somebody gets your credit card. Yeah. They can make a lot of charges, but they can’t empty your bank account. And so, you know, anyway, so I don’t know yet, can I answer it like that?
That was kind of a leading question because I was thinking about maybe the You Need a Budget videos, so yeah. Yeah. I wasn’t sure,
But the point is it relates to Morning Time is, you know, find the things that are relevant to them, especially for those teens and invite them into this conversation and use morning time as a place to, to do that. You know, last year we studied the election in morning time and we enjoyed it. It was absolutely fascinating. It’s so funny. The termite inspector came in one day while we were having morning time to do the termite inspection. And it just so happened to be the day that we were studying political ads. And we were going back through and watching political ads through the years and just having these really great, fascinating conversations. And I turned and looked at one point, I just, you know, let him, he has to walk through the whole house, looking for signs of termite damage. And I turned and looked at one point and he was just standing there watching. And then he started joining in on the conversation. It was like, school was never like this for me.
So, you know, and those Are great for all your kids to hear, school was never like this for me. I love It.
Yeah. Yeah. But think about, you know, I think a lot of times when you see the pretty pictures on Pinterest, you see the pictures of the pretty baskets and I’m not going to lie to you. My basket was sitting right there next to me with all its things in it. You get the idea that morning time is just this real pinkies up kind of, eh, what’s the word I’m looking for? I don’t know, structured and refined time. It’s the time to have those really great meaty, wonderful conversations with your kids.
So a couple more things about high school. I think, you know, if you have high schoolers and younger kids, I certainly think it’s okay to put some things into morning time that are for the high schoolers and just let even the seven, eight, nine year old just be there in the room drawing or, you know, playing with the Magna-Tiles or something like that, listening in you’ll be surprised at what they can get from those high school topics. But, you know, it’s okay to put something in that you think is going to be above the head of some of your younger kids and still require them to be there for It.
For sure. I mean, when my kids were all close in age, but my little one when she was two, she could recite Ooey-Gooey. I was the only one who knew that she knew every word to Ooey-Gooey, but she could say the whole thing. Just, just because of being in the room during the morning time, I wasn’t trying to get her to say it. She just learned it, you know? So you never know what your younger kids, what ideas they’re gonna pick up on. They can understand ideas that they cannot themselves read in a book. They can, that they will grow and grasp towards those things. Don’t, don’t try to dumb things down. They make things, give them engaging ideas and they will reach for them.
Yeah. Yeah, I think so. But then also, you know, kind of the opposite of that, it’s okay to, you know, do the things that you want to do as an entire family first and then allow those homeschoolers to go off and kind of do some of the things that they need to do.
Brandy Vencell used to do that where she would make sure that, you know, they did their Bible altogether and then, and then she would do Shakespeare and then let her high school or go because high schoolers have so much work to do and they, they feel it and they’re trying to get jobs and they’re trying to do have a social life and they’re trying to do this and they’re trying to do that.
I mean, they just, they, they fill their lives with so many things. A lot of the time don’t waste. Don’t, it’s not that morning. Time is a waste of their time, but make sure you’re just getting those high impact pieces for them and then let them go to the rest of their work.
Yeah. Yeah. And so some people might say, well, why would you bother having the high schooler come to morning time in that situation anyway. And the reason you bother, you know, Heather Tully actually said it best. She’s like, if I didn’t have morning time for my 17 year old to be there with my three-year-old, I’m not sure that they would see each other most days.
Right? Yeah. It’s fostering those family relationships. That’s a huge part of what you’re doing during the morning time. Yeah. It may be an extreme case. You may never have an a case where, you know, you have a teen who is like getting up to go to a job or like, you know, doing their school all day or sleeping in late, and then getting up and doing a bunch of school and then go into a job and, you know, and never seen the three-year-old and it may not be quite as extreme, but it is, it’s not just that you’re ships passing in the night during morning time. You’re actually engaging each other as a family and learning something together that you’re always going to share. You’re creating a common vocabulary for your home.
Yeah, yeah. Very much so. Very much so. So I think that’s a reason why it is important to, to keep those teens there for at least part of the time while honoring, you know, they’re honoring their separation from the family, which is what a large part of being a teenager is about is, you know, you pull clothes and you pull away, you pull close and you pull away. And we want to send these kids out into the world who are ready to go. I mean, that’s our role as moms is to prepare them to leave us one day.
Well, and, and I will tell you, I hear stories about from other families where they’ve released the teenager from the end part of morning time, but mom is reading wind in the willows or little house. And the teenager is sneaking back in to hear their favorite parts of those stories. That’s that makes me cry right now. You know? So it is knitting hearts together and so important.
Yeah. This is the part where Pam and Dawn bring out the tissue and have all high schoolers next year.
Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. So yeah. Well, you know, one of the questions I get so often is what does morning time look like? I think moms want to like, get a visual picture. So if I were at your house this morning, Dawn Garrett, what would morning time have looked like? Could you paint me a picture with words
I will certainly try. I had a 16 year old who was making cards. She and some of her friends are, have you heard about these, like open when letters, they make a packet of letters that are like open when you’re tired, open, when you’re excited, open, when you’re sad, open, when you had your first date open, you know, these different things. And it’s just a packet of letters that, that you send to a friend. And so she was making cards to make it open. When letters for one of their friends, they’re pulling together a big packet and she was watercoloring and she did a couple of really pretty, one of them was of the wild, highest sense we saw on our hike Wednesday night.
And one of them had these different polka dots. And so that’s what my oldest was working on. I have no idea what Nate was doing. He had some pony beads and some paper. And I think what he does with those is he does like football plays. And he’s like figuring out mapping out X’s and O’s for plays. And so he has one team and putting beads just happened to be convenient cause he has two sisters.
So I don’t, I don’t entirely understand what he was doing, but that’s what he was working on this morning. Sometimes he whittles, sometimes he works with paracord. Sometimes he draws it, just, you know, whatever floats his that day. We still have some of the toys upstairs from when our young friend was with us. So the wedgits were still out and Rebecca was excited about, she was building different, elaborate, shaped things with the widgets, which those haven’t been out in years at my house. But you know, sometimes that nostalgia is fun. So she was doing some of that. Sometimes she will kind of cross stitch or embroider. Just whatever moves her that day. And, and they all take turns reading. So I don’t do all the reading loud cause everybody gets tired of just hearing me. So that’s those, those are the different things that you would have seen. Oh. And Nate also played the piano to accompany our, him singing this morning.
So, Okay. So you’re gathered around a table and they’re all busy with their things and you’re reading and then they’re taking turns reading as well. So yeah, yeah. Down in your dining room or up in your school Room in
our school room. It’s also, I have, I have a short bookshelf. I don’t have, I have too many things for a basket for my morning basket. So I have a bookshelf and I turn around and pull things off of my shelf and we’re sitting in the school room and they’re working it’s Friday. So we did Madlibs and Madlibs with high schoolers is crazy fun because they come up with the best adjectives so much better than, you know, every adjective is a color when they’re in fifth grade. And I wish I could remember what some of them were at the moment, but they made me laugh So fun. It was a lot Of fun. So Fridays we do, we change things up and do kind of like lighter things because it’s the end of the weekend, you know, we just enjoy being together.
So I love it. I love it. Yeah. So ours right now looks a lot like kids sprawled across the couch. I haven’t like hearing you talk about yours. I’m wondering if I’m going to not encourage mine to go back to the table next year. So we have this issue, very practical issue.
I bought these really cute chairs for our school room when we moved into this house and everybody hates the chairs. I hate the chairs. They are the most uncomfortable chairs ever. So when it’s time to actually sit at the table and do school, I moved to the dining room table. So we have this school room, we have this school room table.
We don’t do school there is the dining room. And we just, just right across the way. I mean, it’s all one big open space. And we sit at the dining room table because the school room chairs are so uncomfortable. So I’ve got to, I’ve got to solve that problem this summer. And I think if I did, I could actually bring mine back to the table, but right now we have a couch and a loveseat and we’re sprawled out on the couch in the love seat. And you know, I keep all of my stuff in a basket. Now I have an overflow shelf in the school, but the things that we’re working on right now stay in the basket and I pull it over and set it on the side table.
And you know, I’ve got kids who are like, you know, fighting over how many squares each person takes up on the couch. And I’ve got one who’s standing on his head or laying in the floor with the dogs. And, but you know, everything happens right there. You know, all the reading aloud and everything. I have my binder, we have the TV, we watch CNN10 on the TV right there. And it’s just, you know, if you could just imagine someteenagers sprawled around talking and doing things sometimes, you know, somebody hasn’t eaten. And so they go to the, they they’re right there at the bar. That’s in that same area, eating something while we’re doing morning times. So that’s, that’s kind of what it looks like at my house. So it’s, it’s just a very ordinary looking, looking time when you say?
Oh yeah, I mean, it looks like a mealtime and I feel like I’m spreading a feast of ideas like Mason talks about. So that makes it a lot of sense. Yeah. Yeah. It really does. It really does. And so I think the idea that it has to, you know, it looks different from home to home, you know, sometimes moms in the community come up and say, oh, everyday morning time we do this. Or everyday morning time we do that. Of course, I can’t think of an example right now. And I think, oh, that’s really interesting. I never would’ve thought of that. You know?
Right. Yeah. The I’m blanking at the moment too, but yeah. I mean most days instead of Madlibs, I stand up and write a sentence on the whiteboard and we do we diagram a sentence together. I mean, it just, what you need, you have to determine what it is that you and your kids need to be doing together and then figure out how to fit it in slowly, start small build slow.
Yeah. Yeah. Very much so. Very much so. So did we hit all of those, all of those kinds of different questions that people were asking you about how to begin morning time?
I think so. I think just thinking about, yeah. How do you, how do you get started when you have this particular situation? Just start, you know, in Mere Motherhood Cindy Rollins says, don’t fuss about which book to read, pick up the book next to you and say, let’s read and read. And I think the same can be said for morning time. Don’t fuss about all the details. You probably know the doxology or some other praise song that you like. You can pray and pray the Lord’s prayer.
If you know, if there’s not something else that you, if you are uncomfortable, praying, extemporaneously and grab a book of poetry and read a poem and, you know, keep, and then keep moving, you’ll just gather them together and enjoy being together.
Yeah. Yeah. And yeah, I think that’s it. Stop it. You, you hit the nail on the head right there. Stop fussing over the details, just pick something and do it. And that forward motion is what’s going to keep you going. And if you pick one thing and you do it, and when you’ve done that one thing out, pick another thing and do it. You know, I often tell moms who are like, how do I get started? And I’m like, you know, choose five things that, you know, you and your kids are going to enjoy doing. You know, if you’ve got multiple kids and that allows you the opportunity to like put Madlibs and for the nine year old and put current events in for the 13 year old and put, you know, Frog and Toad or some fun picture books in for the three year old or whatever, and then put those things in the basket and pull out and do one thing. And then after you’ve done that a few days pull out and do two things. And then when you’ve done that for a few days, pull out and do three things. And then when you, when you finish something, when you’ve read the entire book, when you’ve done done all the things, take that one out and replace it with something else and just keep going. And that’s, that’s a lifetime of morning time, right? Yup. Yup.
So, the other thing I wanted to say was we do have a resource that you can use to help you get started. We call it our months of mourning time sample plans, and we call it a month of morning time, but the wonderful thing about it is if, if you are using this approach and this is for the person who is just like, I just have no idea what to do. Like she, this woman is telling me to choose five resources and put them in a basket. And I just can’t even, I don’t know where to start. And you would like a little bit of help with that. You can come download this free resource. It’s an example of what our morning time plans are like, and there’s three weeks worth of stuff in there. But if you’re following this approach where you’re starting small with one thing, and then you’re gradually adding things in, you can totally stretch this three weeks out to last you a couple of months.
And so it, it really is a place where if you’re kind of at a loss for, you know, what composers could we listen to, or what poems could we read or what art could we look at, or what are some good books for us to read, then this will definitely help you get stuck. For sure. Yeah.
Well Dawn, thank you so much for joining me today. It was a fun conversation. Thanks for having me and for taking my suggestion. I think this could really help. A lot of moms get started using morning time in their homes.
And there you, it now, if you would like links to the books, resources and blog posts that Dawn Garrett and I talked about today, you can find them on the show notes for this episode of the podcast. Those are Now I will be back again in a couple of weeks and we are going to be chatting with Cindy Rollins all about how do you choose the best things for your morning time? This is one of the questions we get a lot. I know I want to do morning time, but I want to do all the things. So how can I narrow down and choose which things are best for my family. So I hope you join us for that conversation in a couple of weeks and until then keep seeking truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool day.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

Key Ideas about Getting Started with Morning Time

Morning Time can be built by starting with one simple thing and adding to it over time. With the elementary ages and pre-teens, it’s great to start with a funny book that gets everyone laughing. Over time, adding in a prayer, a poem, and maybe some music, and you are on your way to a full Morning Time.

As you are establishing your Morning Time, it is easy to get discouraged if you start comparing what you do to someone who has been doing it a long time. So don’t compare your Morning Time to anyone else’s. Just keep going.

One of the main goals of Morning Time is to knit the family together with common vocabulary and shared memories.

Make sure your Morning Time is age appropriate especially for the older kids. If you have a range of ages, It’s a good practice to aim Morning Time at your older kids and allow your younger kids to listen in.

Keep in mind that Morning Time isn’t going to look picture perfect. Just aim for a warm and inviting environment that engages everyone as much as possible. Remember, it’s an opportunity for you to learn alongside your children and your attitude helps to create the atmosphere.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • [3:16] meet Dawn Garrett
  • [4:35] questions for today’s podcast
  • [8:42] Morning Time defined
  • [14:04] starting Morning Time with elementary ages
  • [23:01] singing songs in Morning Time
  • [27:20] starting Morning Time with preschoolers
  • [34:00] challenges with toddlers
  • [40:10] starting Morning Time with teens
  • [51:40] Morning Time in real life

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