In this episode, we talk to Barbara, a homeschooling mom who shares her experience with implementing Morning Time into her homeschooling routine. Barbara talks about her journey to discovering Morning Time and how she initially struggled with finding resources to use. She shares how Morning Time has helped her create a connection with her children, and how it has become a grounding and warming up exercise for the day. Barbara also talks about how she uses Morning Time to bring in other aspects of learning, such as grammar and history.
Links and resources from today’s show:
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Pam: Are you ready for homeschooling to feel joyful again? Do you wanna build closer relationships, remove some of the stress around planning and enjoy learning with your children?
Welcome to Your Morning Basket. I’m Pam Barnhill, a homeschool mom just like you. And I’m going to show you the magic and fulfillment that Morning Basket or Morning Time can bring to your homeschool. Grab your coffee or tea and let’s get started.
Barbara Cozens is a Catholic homeschooling mom of two living in Carson City, Nevada, with her husband of 14 years. They began homeschooling out of necessity in August of 2020, but then they fell in love with the peace and joy that homeschooling brought them. When Barbara isn’t homeschooling her kids, she enjoys scrapbooking, watching movies, camping, cooking, baking, and going to Lake Tahoe in the summer.
Barbara, welcome to the podcast.
Barbara: Thanks For having me.
Pam: It is so much fun to have you on here. The first thing I wanna know is how do you find time to do all of these things and homeschool your kids?
Barbara: Well, I'm not sure I do them all at this, you know, very well. Anyway, the scrapbooking especially has kind of been put on hiatus until actually just recently. I'm more intrigued again to get back into Scrapbooking.
Pam: Okay. So you and I are gonna have to talk about that off the podcast because I used to be a major scrapbooker and just have struggled getting started again. So we'll have that conversation later. But let's start with homeschooling. Can you share a little bit about how you got started with this homeschooling thing?
Because you never said, this is what we're gonna do when we have kids. Right?
Barbara: It was always in the list of things to do if anything ever catastrophic happened, it was always private school, then homeschooling and then public school, if something ever happened, I never thought I would ever homeschool. I never saw coming. And so then 2020 hit and I think like a lot of families, we just decided it was best for our kids to be at home during that, those first, that first year.
Pam: Okay. And so then you're like, okay, we're gonna homeschool. And how did you even get started? How did you know where to start? Did you try to do school at home or some kind of virtual school?
Barbara: No, we decided to just do this, to do homeschooling and then I went down the rabbit trail that the internet is, and I got, the first thing I did was I found a Catholic online homeschool conference. And so that's where I got where I saw you first. But it just gave me a little bit of confidence as to what this homeschooling thing was all about.
And, then I just jumped in and started watching a ton of videos and seeing, well, what's out there? And then we did order the boxed curriculum because I didn't know what to do. So I ordered a boxed curriculum and we didn't know if we were going to keep our kids at home because we thought they would go back to the private school.
So we actually used some of the curriculum that they used at their private school. And so school did look a lot like school at home at first. And then I realized this is not what I wanted to do.
Pam: So, about how long did it take you to go like, eh, maybe this box is not what we want?
Barbara: About four months, because I was just all over the place. Cause at the time I, my son was in fifth grade, my daughter was in third grade. And so I was constantly doing different, well the same subject, but third grade history with the third grader in fifth grade history with the fifth grader. And I was all over the place all the time.
And there were lots of tears from me because I didn't know. I thought, this can't be right. This is so hard and I know it's not that hard cuz there's all these wonderful ladies saying how wonderful homeschooling is.
Pam: And so there was a big disconnect between what you were hearing other people say online about how much they loved homeschooling and what was actually going on in your home on a day-to-day basis?
Barbara: Yes, exactly. And we, you know, I just, in the back of my mind, I hadn't recognized it until we had decided to actually do homeschooling for real. I felt like the principal at their private school was my boss. And so I was living up to this weird expectation that, well what if they went back to the private school? I gotta make sure that they're still doing the same math and still, you know, they're, the standard was still being set. And, and then once I let that go and I fired her as my, as my boss of my homeschool, things started, they definitely turned around for sure.
Pam: Oh, that's interesting. I wonder how often we have these bosses in our homeschool that we don't even realize are there because you probably didn't wake up every day going, you know, I have to do exact, like, this principal's gonna be staring me down. But, and it was probably just kind of driving you in ways that you weren't even thinking of kind of living up to this expectation of somebody else for your homeschool.
Barbara: Oh, for sure. For sure.
Pam: Okay, so you're doing school at home. You're doing school in the box, you're doing third grade history and fifth grade history and you're thinking there's gotta be something else out here. So what did you do?
Barbara: Well, I started researching and was hearing this unit study family approach. And so I kind of jumped on that train and threw out all the history and the science that we were doing separately and came together and oh my gosh, it was so much fun cuz we got to do activities together and my kids are so close in age that it's okay to, it was okay and I, I was not thinking that it was okay at first, but then it just, oh, it started to be much more beautiful when we could sit together and do our activities. And I didn't have to read two different histories and two different science, you know, textbooks or whatever it was.
Pam: Okay. So where did you first hear about the idea of Morning Time or a Morning Basket?
Barbara: I heard about it during that conference, the Catholic Homeschool conference from you. And then I jumped right into the Plan Your Year and because I'm a planner at heart and it spoke to me and I thought if I could just plan it, I'll be good. So I planned it and then I loved the idea of all of the Shakespeare and the composers and the hymns and all of that and, but I, I just was making, wasn't making the connection that you had all of these things. So I just went out and gathered 'em all myself and I still have my folders.
They say Shakespeare and art and poetry and, and I still have little bits in there but oh gosh, that took a lot of time to put all that together. And then I just felt disjointed because I wasn't sure what am I doing? And so I would just do a little here and a little there. I knew enough that we started our Morning Time with prayer and a read aloud.
That's how we initially started. And then just dipping my toes into the actual what you are offering. It took me about, I think the next school year then we just dove right in and started really using the plans that you offer cuz it made it so much easier for me. I didn't have to go to teacher's websites and find all sorts of different things myself.
Pam: Right. Okay. So you, what was the first set of plans you ever did? Do you remember? I think it was the Fall plans in 2021 and oh gosh, we just loved it. It was so much fun. It really was. I just, well first of all we loved fall and so it was great to just dive right in with those and enjoy all the things I yeah, I'm pretty sure it was fall that we did.
Pam: Okay. And so they loved the things that you were doing. I have a feeling that your favorite part was the fact that you didn't have to go find it all.
Barbara: I didn't have to go find it all. I didn't have to go find anything at your website.
Pam: It was all right there.
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Talk to me about history and science now. So how are you doing that together?
Barbara: Well, we still use a Unit Study and it, we just sit down and I read it and then we do some activities and occasionally I'll go into the Morning Time plans and pull videos or the book lists are really helpful and so we start, we'll pull out a book and we'll start doing that for our read aloud. So that's basically it for like history we use a unit study.
Pam: You use a unit study for that. Okay. Yep. And then what kinds of plans do you find yourself drawn towards? Have you stuck with just the seasonal plans as part of the, Your Morning Basket Plus?
Barbara: No, I really love all the Catholic plans. So right now we're doing the Lent plans and I've been much more intentional in following the schedule. And then we do the loop. So we'll do all the daily, the prayers, the memorization, the scripture, all of that. We do all of that and then we'll do one or two from the loop.
And I've been much more intentional and it's just been so great. That's what I'm really drawn to is the Catholic plans and then the, of course we love the seasonal plans. We did the Christmas and Advent and let's see what other ones we've done some of the Explorations. We love doing the zoo one cuz we went to the zoo on when we were on vacation and when we got back I thought this was perfect.
We can just pull up all the zoo stuff and watch the videos of the San Diego Zoo and wait for the tiger to show up.
Pam: I love that. I love how you're like, you don't feel like, okay, I've got to sit down and I've gotten to do this whole plan before we can go to the zoo or now that we've come home I've got to do this whole plan.
You're like, we're just gonna open it up and we're gonna pick out the parts that we like and use it to, to our advantage. And I think the, the Catholic plans are very much like that too. Have you been able to dabble in any of the devotions, the monthly devotions?
Barbara: We did the communion one I think. Yes we did cuz I remember getting a couple of, some of the books the, and they were just so great. And my daughter would just sit and read them out loud to us instead of me having to read out loud.
Pam: I love that.
Barbara: Right. She just loves to… just let me read it Mom, I wanna read it. And so yeah, those have been really great too. It's hard to pick. Well, just which one I want to.
Pam: Well and that's the great thing about being a member is you get to pick and choose from, you know, you don't have to choose. You can go in and choose a little from here and a little from there and really mix and match how you do them.
So let's talk about some of the nitty gritty of what Morning Time looks like in your home with two kids who are now, how old are they? You've been at it for two years. So seventh grade and fifth grade.
Barbara: Yep. Yep. 12, almost 13 and 10. Yep. Okay. So what does Morning Time look like on any given day?
Well, we pray. We have some pledges, we have some affirmations. Right now we're doing two read alouds. Cause we had our own read aloud. And then the Lenten plans we're doing Charlotte's Web which has been such a fun thing to do. So then we do all of the things that are in the lenten plans. And then after we're done with all of that, we will do a little bit of grammar with Fix It! Grammar. And we're finishing up our US history unit, which is bringing us to the Declaration of Independence. And then I have an entire unit that is devoted to Declaration of Independence. So we're really diving into that. Probably not this year, but next year.
Pam: Yeah. So even though you're using the Morning Time plans, you're also using your Morning Time as a place to put other things like your Fix-It! Grammar and your unit study for history as well. And just do all of that together as one group.
Pam: I love it. Yeah, I love it so much. So what was it like bringing in a fifth grade boy who's now a seventh grade boy into this concept and idea of Morning Time? Did you have any kind of motivational struggles there?
Barbara: I didn't. He is surprisingly, he is a wonderful, wonderful student. He got lost at the private school and we've been able to just hone in his love for learning and I think he would've lost his love for learning had we continued otherwise. And so he loves it. He gives me a little pushback now, but when I explain to him, it's about our connection to each other, my connection to him, his connection to his sister, he doesn't push back too often. And he would probably like me to not have it be an hour and a half, but we're covering a lot. And so, I think it's wonderful and I don't want him, I don't want him to go away.
Pam: Right, right. You know, I have a 17 year old and one who just turned 16 and then the 13 year old, and sometimes they get the ah, Morning Time, Morning Time stuff, but then we do it. And I'm like, I don't think you guys, I think you guys are just complaining for complainings sake. Like, I don't think you realized if this went away and you had to do all of this stuff on your own, just how miserable your life would be. Right. So what impact does Morning Time had on your homeschool?
Barabara: Well, it grounds us, and I liken it to how you warm up your car in the wintertime before you go run errands. So it warms us up. It kind of gets out the sleepy eyes and the brain fog from waking up in the morning. And so, generally I'm doing all the reading and the kids are working. If they're not doing a handwriting lesson, they're doing diamond art or my son's drawing on procreate on the iPad. They're just fiddling with whatever. And so that part, they get some creativity out. And then I just think that they can focus better when it comes to the actual tasks of doing school.
Pam: All right. Because they've been revved up. It's kind of set the tone for the day.
Barbara: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Pam: So what is the best thing that you've gotten out of Morning Time, do you think? It's definitely the connection and the maintaining of the connection and the fruits that come from the conversations when we're talking, our faith formation and we're talking about the differences between non-Catholics and Catholics, and even talking about current events and whatever's happening in the world. We will just sit and have those beautiful conversations that would probably get missed because they were at the traditional school, they're off talking with their buddies and we're not privy to some of those conversations. The connection with my son and my daughter is so beautiful.
There's best friends. And I love that. That was been one of the things that my husband and I talked about in the very, very beginning. We want to help them maintain a close friendship and be best friends because that's what they're gonna have later in life. And it's so important and it's been so, so wonderful to watch them. They bicker of course, but they sure love each other.
Pam: Oh, I love it. I love it so much. And yet, I mean, even if kids are at home, you know, once you get kids who are teen ages who are all busy and they have so many different activities and you know, then, then they start working and things like that. If you don't have a time in the day when you all come together and dinner, you cannot depend on dinner to be that time of day. Because, you know, if you have two kids who are working and they're going off to jobs, you know, between the two of 'em four or five days a week, you're never gonna see each other at dinner.
And so, yeah, I, I agree with you. I think the connection and it just marks that time in the day when everybody's home and so everybody gets to come together and still get to have those conversations and be together for sure. Yeah. So I love it so much. Yeah.
So, Barbara, have you learned anything neat in Morning Time? Do you consider yourself a lifelong learner?
Barbara: I never thought had that thought before homeschooling, but yes, I love it more than they do. I think that history is lost on, on school-aged kids. Cause the history has been the most fun. I just have been really soaking up all of the different parts of early American history is what we're working on now. And oh, it's been so much fun. So yes, now I am a lifelong learner.
Pam: I love it. I love it so much. Yeah. Yes. I love it. Well, Barbara, thank you. Thank you so much. If somebody were thinking about, Hmm, should I try this Morning Time thing, what would you tell 'em?
Barbara: Absolutely. You have to do it because it's…even in just starting small, like we did at the beginning, a prayer and a read aloud and it just brings the peace that comes because everybody settles down and they're listening and they just get into it and it's fantastic. It's an awesome feeling for sure. Yeah. So, oh, thank you.
Thanks so much for listening to Your Morning Basket. If you are ready to spend less time planning and more time engaged in learning with your children, join Your Morning Basket Plus a monthly membership with everything you need to start a Morning Time practice in your homeschool. To join, head on over to ymbplus.com and I'll see you there.
Key Ideas about Morning Time
- Morning Time is a time when the family comes together and creates connections with each other.
- Morning Time helps set the tone for the day and can improve focus during schoolwork.
- It’s important to find resources that work for your family and mix and match what works best for you.
- Implementing Morning Time doesn’t have to be overwhelming, and you can start small and build on it as you go.
- It’s possible to use Morning Time to bring in other aspects of learning, such as grammar and unit studies.
Find what you want to hear:
- 0:34 Meet Barbara
- 1:35 How Barbara got started with homeschooling
- 5:56 Getting away from doing “school at home”
- 6:46 Starting Morning Time
- 12:50 What Barbara’s Morning Time looks like
- 15:37 The Impact of Morning Time
- 16:40 Barbara’s favorite thing about Morning Time
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