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What do you do when you have a kid (or two or more) who do not like Morning Time? As much as we want to think that our kids will be as enamored with the idea of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty as we are, sometimes that just isn’t the case — especially when we start building a Morning Time habit after our homeschools are already established.

Today I am joined by Dawn Garrett, Community Manager here at Your Morning Basket, and we chat about solutions to this very problem. We talk about flexing schedules, honoring your kids’ time, age-appropriate activities, and yes, when it is okay to require them to stay and have a decent attitude.

All of that wrapped up in one (hopefully) helpful show.

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 72 of The Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. Today’s episode of the podcast is about one of those things that we don’t like to talk about but it happens. What do we do when our kids or a kid doesn’t like Morning Time? At my house, this is one child in particular who complains a little bit about Morning Time. We think that happens a lot in different families where it’s not necessarily every kid but it’s one kid or one or two kids even among kids who previously had really liked Morning Time and there comes a point where maybe they’re not digging it quite as much as they used to. So what do you do in a case like this? Is there anything you can do at all and should you push through if someone is not liking Morning Time and they’re complaining about it and generally sometimes making other people miserable?

I’m joined today by the community manager at Your Morning Basket, Dawn Garrett. We each have three kids. They’re all in those middle tween to teen years so we have faced some of this ourselves. We’re going to talk a little bit about the different things that can be done. We’ll get on with that right after this word from our sponsor.

This episode of The Your Morning Basket podcast is brought to you by Your Morning Basket Plus. Get the tools you need to put the joy back into your homeschool. If you have been wanting to do Morning Time in your homeschool but you’re a little overwhelmed at the idea of which resources to use or which books should you choose, we have done all the hard work for you.

Your Morning Basket Plus is how you can get more out of your Morning Time with less work for mom. In the Plus subscription, we have over 42 sets of Morning Time plans that you can download and are open and go. We also have live events every month with some of your favorite Morning Time teachers, event replays, and so much more to add to your Morning Time.

Now, we have just released our brand new monthly subscription option. Up until now you could only get an annual subscription, that’s still available and it’s still your best deal, but if you would like a monthly option to get in and try the subscription out and see what we have available. You can find more information about that on the website. Come on over to pambarnhill.com. Click the green GET THE TOOLS button and check out The Your Morning Basket Plus subscription today and now on with the podcast.

Dawn Garrett, thank you so much for joining me here today.

Dawn:
I always look forward to it.

Pam:
It’s so much fun to have you on so we can talk about the burning issues that the people in our community are having. One of the things that we hear about sometimes is that people struggle with Morning Time because their kids are giving them pushback or their kids don’t like Morning Time. Do you hear this?

Dawn:
Oh, I hear this at my house.

Pam:
Wait a second, wait a second. Let’s just get this clear. How many years have you been doing Morning Time?

Dawn:
Let’s see here. Margaret is 15 and we started with calendar time when she was 3 so, 12? A long time.

Pam:
A long time. So you get pushback sometimes about Morning Time?

Dawn:
Sure. They don’t like certain parts. They don’t like things that I pull in. It takes a long time because we do an hour and a half for Morning Time. If they could just-

Pam:
And it had been longer, right?

Dawn:
Oh, yes. We’ve been closer to two hours in the past. They could just be getting their stuff done. There are all of these reasons why they-

Pam:
Okay, so let’s talk about it because I get some pushback about Morning Time too, mostly from one particular child who shall remain nameless. For you, is it… And I will say… Okay, so this one particular child gives me pushback and we’ve talked about this already. My favorite saying is, “Suck it up, buttercup.” That’s basically what I tell this child. Suck it up, buttercup. You’re going to do it anyway. And then we do it and it’s not as bad on the other side. The discontent doesn’t stay once we push through. I have a couple questions for you. First of all, is it more than one child at your house? Or is it one child? And then do you find the discontent stays, the grumpiness stays throughout the entire Morning Time or does it lift typically?

Dawn:
It’s typically one of two children at this point. One has decided it’s the best part of the day and gets grumpy when we skip it, but the other two go back and forth with different reasons why but nobody’s ever upset that it has been done.

Pam:
Okay. It’s kinda like exercise.

Dawn:
Oh, no.

Pam:
Is that an apt comparison? Some days you’re just… Okay, I’m never happy to do it.

Dawn:
Never.

Pam:
But often on the other side of doing it, I feel very happy that I’ve done it.

Dawn:
Maybe. I haven’t gotten to that very happy that I’ve done it. But we do talk about the idea that Schole Sisters talks about a lot exposure breeds taste. As they get more exposed to poetry or classical music or great art, then they begin to enjoy those things more and there are things that they really like and things that they really don’t like in Morning Time.

Pam:
Right. Okay. I think we have a number of different situations going on here. This kind of leads us to… First of all, even my kids and Dawn’s kids who have been doing Morning Time for many, many years. We’ve been doing Morning Time for a good eight years now. I find it goes through stages. I find the more consistent we are with doing Morning Time, the less I get pushback like with anything else. It’s when we’ve been a little inconsistent and they’ve been just going through and checking off the list and everything and then all of a sudden, one morning I say, “Oh, we’re going to do Morning Time today.” It’s like, “What do you mean? I can’t get right to my list and get done so I can go do what I want to do.”

I think it ebbs and flows and it switches from kid to kid. There are definitely some things going on. I think it’s also going to be different for people who… Our kids have been doing Morning Time since they were little. I think there’s an advantage there for us and I think it’s going to be different for people who have kids who are new to Morning Time or they’re trying to start Morning Time new with some older kids. We’re going to talk about all of those things today. But I think the biggest thing we need to think about is when they say they don’t like Morning Time, when we have kids who give us pushback about Morning Time, there’s an underlying reason.

Dawn:
Sure. We have to sometimes dig to find those reasons because they aren’t going to tell us the actual one.

Pam:
Oh, no. Oh, gosh no. They never do that. You have these kids who just act horribly and you find out the next day that they’re sick, even when they’re teenagers. Exactly.

Let’s talk about a few of these different situations that we might be running into and why don’t we start with somebody who is new to Morning Time? Actually, you know what? Can we go… Let’s go down to the bottom of this list because maybe we want to start with this fact. It’s okay to insist that your kids do Morning Time even if they say they don’t like it, don’t you agree?

Dawn:
Oh, yes. It’s okay to insist that your kids do the things that are good for them. Yes.

Pam:
It’s like eating your vegetables. You would never dream of telling your kids, “Look, you can’t eat Pop-Tarts all day long.” I say that because I just had a Pop-Tart. But it’s okay to tell them, “You can’t do that. You have to eat some vegetables. You have to eat some other things.” That’s really what this is like. It’s okay for us to decide what’s good for our kids and expect them to show up and do that.

Dawn:
But just like eating your vegetables when it’s a vegetable that I just can’t face, limiting the requirement helps. You have to eat three bites of salad. You have to eat one asparagus spear. Let’s pick something that a lot of kids don’t like. Again, it’s that idea that we’re exposing them to the idea and get used to and slowly draw them in and eventually, my kids like asparagus and even my salad eater eat a reasonable amount of salad without complaint my one who didn’t like salads. It’s okay to insist and require but it’s also okay to say this is a long-term project where we’re going to start really small, really, really small with one thing and then slowly increase because it feels like you have no time but really you have a lot of time to grow Morning Time.

Pam:
Yeah. Before we get into starting small and building slow though, I think the analogy with the vegetables is a good one. The more you have them try something, the more likely it is that they’re going to enjoy it and it’s not going to be a short term thing. I think this is one of the places where we get hung up is we try for a couple of weeks and we’re getting pushback and we probably give up right before it starts getting better. Notice that I say getting better and not being perfect.

Pam:
We talk so much about relationship in Morning Time. You have so many different things that you have to deal with that because people just have bad days. If you have eight people in your family, seven people, six people who are doing Morning Time, that’s a lot of opportunity for bad days there. There are going to be days where this person is having a bad day and then it just seems like you can’t get ahead and you can’t win. So it may take more than a couple of weeks to push through and have this start to turn around.

Dawn:
Agreed.

Pam:
So far we’ve established it’s okay to say to your family, “Look, this is important to me, as your mother, as your teacher, as the person who’s in charge of your education, it’s important to me that we participate in this activity. We’re going to do this activity and you’re going to be here and participate in this activity with us.” It’s completely okay for you to do that.

But let’s talk about how we sometimes sabotage our Morning Times by some of the things that we do and then also how we can make it more palatable to them because if you’re going to make them eat asparagus, it’s probably a good thing to wrap it in bacon, if we’re going back to the vegetables there.

Dawn:
Can we also add that you have to be one of the people who has a good attitude about it and you have to eat your asparagus cheerfully, too. I am not a bright cheery, “Okay, let’s go, everybody,” kind of person. That’s just not my way of interacting with people.

Pam:
Yeah, me either.

Dawn:
But I have to make it a priority for myself before I can make it a priority for my kids. Some of the things that I… I do something like I set a timer and an alarm so that this time I stop everything that I’m doing and transition to Morning Time mode and make it a… You talked a little bit about consistency and how important that is. But this is the time, this is when we do this, everybody comes and does it. And it’s not, “Oh, it’s 10:30, we should do Morning Time.” “Oh, today, we’re going to do it at 8:30.” “Oh, today it’s 2:00.” But keeping it on an even keel helps my kids to choke down the asparagus a little better.

Pam:
This is a good point. Some people in our communities are actually using their…I’m not going to say the name because it tends to talk when I do, but they’re using their home speakers to set up where the… For us, we start with a song. We start our Morning Time with a song and when the song plays everybody knows that it’s time to come to Morning Time. You can actually set up the speaker to play that song at a certain time and that forces you to be ready to go. I don’t do that because we do things at different times on different days. This day, Monday, is consistently like this and Tuesday is consistently like this and Wednesday is consistently like this. But you could do that and it forces you to be ready and be in place.

But I think that’s a big important thing and I think another thing to talk about when it comes to mom’s attitude is Morning Time is not the time for… There’s a lot of different… I don’t know about yours but, in ours, there are a lot of different things that we do in Morning Time would actually allow me to check out a little bit. We watch CNN 10. We listen to specific audio Bible study. I’m trying to think at least those two things. Our memory work even could be a time when I check out… I can’t pick up my phone. I can’t put on CNN 10 for the kids and walk out of the room and change the laundry or go to the kitchen to load the dishwasher or start scrolling my phone. I am doing it with them.

Dawn:
Oh, yes, I have to… I have used in the past an app that locks down my phone for Instagram and Facebook and all of those other things during the hours of Morning Time. Just like I do for the hours of church, I locked them down for the hours of Morning Time. It does make a difference to be present and engaged.

Pam:
We’re not talking about if you are a mom with a very young child and infant, a toddler, and you’re going to have to get up and go chase somebody down or go handle a diaper blowout or something like that. That’s a completely different situation. That’s going to happen and in those situations, it’s probably going to be that your Morning Time is very short during those times. Especially if you don’t have older kids who can keep the rhythm going while you have to get up and walk away. You’re going to be in one of those seasons of life where your Morning Time might only be 15 minutes.

Yeah, mom has to be present and mom’s attitude has to be good. There can’t be any of this, “Well, I really don’t like doing this either. But I’m doing it because it’s good for us.” Let’s talk about that.

First, let’s talk about starting small and then let’s talk about the subjects that you’re doing in Morning Time. If you’re new to Morning Time, if this is… Maybe you’ve tried it in the past and it didn’t work, you never got past the first couple of weeks or maybe you’re considering doing it and you’re wondering how are my kids going to take this? Is this something that I’m going to enjoy doing and they’re going to enjoy doing? I think it’s very important to realize that you need to start small when you’re starting with Morning Time. You want to talk about that, Dawn?

Dawn:
Sure. Starting Morning Time, Cindy Rollins talks about how her Morning Time started with their Awanas memory work. And that was it. That was all they did and she was like, “Oh, well, maybe we could add a story too.” As her kids got older and as they established that time, the practice just grew and grew and grew.

I started with one of those big blue school calendars where you put in the numbers of the month, and you put in the new one for the day and that was calendar time or Morning Time and then we added a poem. And that was it. You have to start really little. Just the habit of getting together in one place for a specific purpose as a family is really important. I think Mystie calls those seed habits where you have a trigger and you do a really small individual thing and then you’re like, “We did it,” and then that seed habit can grow into a bigger and more full thing, but you have to start somewhere.

Pam:
I think the big thing… A couple points I want to make. If you go to Pinterest, let’s say you’re interested in Morning Time and you’ve never done it before and you go to Pinterest and you search it up. You get the perfect Morning Basket routine for March or Morning Basket for your Charlotte Mason homeschool or something like that and you click over and you’re like, “Oh, I want to see how this person is doing this. This looks interesting.” And you end up with this big, long, elaborate Morning Time and you think that’s how it has to be. That’s what a Morning Basket has to look like. And the answer is no. It can look any way you want it to look but when you start it should look very, very short and very small like Dawn was talking about.

Just starting with one thing and you were talking about seed habits and hooks. When Celeste Cruz came on to the podcast that was an earlier episode. I think…

Dawn:
Was it nine?

Pam:
Something around nine. We’re going to look it up. But when Celeste was talking, she started Morning Time with breakfast. She had a bunch of little kids at the time. I think she had six kids under eight years old or something like that, maybe five kids under eight years old, and they started at breakfast. She would eat at a different time and she was pegging it to that breakfast time while her kids were eating and she was reading to them and she was getting maybe 10 minutes of it done. That’s what her habit grew from.

Dawn:
It was episode 15. The other thing about her kids during that time is they were strapped into their high chairs so they couldn’t really go anywhere which people are always asking, “What do you do with your toddlers? What do you do with your babies during Morning Time?” Strapping them into a seat and throwing Cheerios at them is usually my response.

Pam:
If you go to pambarnhill.com on the front page of the website, if you scroll about halfway down, there’s this beautiful picture of Heather Tully’s family. Heather’s a mom of 10 doing Morning Time and one of the things you will notice about that picture is there is a very little toddler strapped in his highchair and he’s facing Heather and then next to her… She has her arm on him…Is another toddler, slightly older, and he is sitting right next to mom. She has both of them within arm’s reach and is able to… I think I see some puffs or some snacks on the table as well. When you have little kids, those are some strategies you could use.

But the other thing I wanted to say is let’s talk about… So many things we’ve alluded to in this little section right here have been about starting Morning Time with little kids. Let’s talk about even if your child, let’s say your youngest is 12 and you have a 14-year-old and then a 17-year-old and you’re like, “I really want to do this with my kids before they graduate and leave home.” You still start small.

Dawn:
Oh, yeah. Maybe even smaller. What is the one most important thing that you want your kids to learn together? Whether that is you want to start your school day with prayer. A lot of people like to have that be the very beginning thing or reading a Psalm together or reading. At the dinner table right now, we’re reading from The Fallacy Detective book. You’re doing one thing very small, everybody together, and then release them. They have other things to be doing that they think are important. You start with the one thing that you as a family have determined is important to do together.

Pam:
Yeah. It doesn’t change…us saying start small doesn’t have anything to do with the ages of the kids. It has everything to do with the idea of building the habit together. You do start with one thing. And then it’s also easier for you to do.

If you’ve heard of the Tiny Habits guy. He talks about, “If you want to do 100 pushups a day, then you start with I’m going to do one push up.” And the reason you start with one and not 10 is you make it so simple that it’s almost harder to fail than it is to not fail. You know what I mean? It’s like you can’t just not do the one pushup. And then when you get down there, you start doing more because you’re down there you might as well do more. It’s kind of the same way with Morning Time you make it so small and so simple that it’s silly not to just do it and then once you start doing it, it gets so much easier to put more into it.

Dawn:
Yep.

Pam:
Starting small, building slow is a big one. Let’s talk about kids who don’t like certain Morning Time subjects. I want to go back to this idea of going on Pinterest and looking at other people’s Morning Times which I think is fine. It’s totally fine to do that. It’s fun. I enjoy looking and seeing what other people are doing in their Morning Times. And the idea that you as mom, if you really don’t like doing something, I just want to give you permission right here to not do it in your Morning Time.

Dawn:
Okay.

Pam:
Dawn may not agree with me. Dawn may be sitting over there going. Let me caveat this, Dawn. If they try it not based on some preconceived something, but if they try it and then they really don’t like it, I think it’s okay not to do it.

Dawn:
Sure. I do too. But don’t try it once and say, “I don’t like poetry.” It takes some time and some success. We use the IEW Poetry Memorization program. It was the very first curriculum I bought when I had a three-year-old and we’re still working in level three. It just takes a long time.

Pam:
It does.

Dawn:
But my kids learned “Oooey Gooey” which is the very first poem and within a couple of years, my littlest one, she had trouble speaking clearly but she knew “Oooey Gooey”. I was the only one who can tell that she knew all of the words of “Oooey Gooey” perfectly when she was two. But she knew it. She knew it. This is working. That sense of, “Wow, okay, we can keep going,” was an encouragement to me. I knew poetry was important but I know nothing about poetry. I wasn’t any good at poetry but that little bit of success pushed me on and now we’re learning The Pessimist and The Optimist as poems.

Pam:
Right. Which is a much longer, much harder piece.

Dawn:
Yes.

Pam:
That’s one of the beautiful things about that particular program is it does start you out with really short, fun poems that kids actually love. You’re not starting with “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” and trying to memorize Tennyson’s “Lady of Shallot” or something like that which has hundreds of lines. You’re starting with something very small and that’s going to keep you successful.

I think that’s something important to think about when you’re looking at introducing your kids to subjects like poetry or music appreciation or art. Start with things that are very kid accessible.

Dawn:
And mom accessible. Because we’re talking about things that… You have to like it in order to keep doing it. If you’re really into ballet and dance maybe you should start with Degas as your artist and look at his ballet dancers. Maybe you shouldn’t start with, I don’t know, van Gogh, because some of those are a little weird. But maybe you really like sunflowers and you really like haystacks and you like the way that van Gogh layers on paint, so maybe that’s something. Start with something that you enjoy and your interest will be contagious for your kids.

Pam:
Yeah. I think that’s really important that if you’re doing something you like, it carry over. But also things like… There’s so much music that is more accessible to kids. There’s nothing that says, “Well, you have to start a study of classical music with all of Bach’s concertos, or whatever.” You can go in and choose a hodgepodge of music that you know they’ve heard before, that you know when they hear it, they’re going to go, “Oh, I’ve heard this.” The William Tell Overture or something like that where it’s kid friendly. It’s kid accessible music.

You can also play into their passions and different things that they love. Music about space and then there’s music related to… We did movie themes this year and did a lot of movie themes and the kids absolutely love that. One of the pieces that we did was the Chariots of Fire theme, and my youngest actually downloaded a piece of music and got footage of the dog running and put together a video of the dog running to the Chariots of Fire theme in slow motion. But we read the story behind it, we listened to the music, and we talked about the instrumentation, but it captured his imagination.

Just because something is full of truth, goodness, and beauty doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily something that’s not kid accessible. I think they’re going to be kid accessible versions of a lot of different things.

Dawn:
This puts me to mind a little bit too… We have a lot of friends who are in the unschooly or delight directed learning kind of way and they do a lot of strewing. You strew Mr. Bach Comes To Call and Beethoven Lives Upstairs. Some of those other… Is it the Benjamin Britten Carnival of the Animals, I think, that’s who he is. You strew those around. You make them accessible to your kids. You play them during lunch time.

In other times, my kids used to listen to those during quiet time. That was their downtime but made these different things accessible and then they get an interest and then you pull it into Morning Time.

Pam:
Oh, that’s a great idea. Strew some of it ahead of time and spark the interest. And then pull it into Morning Time and say, “Okay, you may have heard this, but now can we listen intently with the idea that we’re going to talk about some of the instrumentation or some of the dynamics or some of the other musical terms or whatever.” Yeah, I like that.

Dawn:
You can do that with art and all sorts of things. Just it has to do with the atmosphere of your home and the things that you have just around.

Pam:
Let’s talk a little bit about age appropriateness.

Dawn:
Okay.

Pam:
Now, obviously, if you are a family that has a very wide age range of children, you have a decision to make. Where are we going to focus the bulk of our Morning Time material? What age range? I think some of the families that have been the most successful with carrying on Morning Time through a long period of time with a large family and a bunch of age ranges, what I hear from them is they gear it towards the older kids.

Dawn:
That’s also what I hear.

Pam:
And let the little kids take what they will. I think you want to look at the older children in the room and keeping them engaged, and we’re going to talk about this in a minute, giving them a purpose for being there as well other than just because I said so. Then let the little kids fall where they will. Can we talk about what that looks like?

Dawn:
Maybe. My kids are all so close in age that this has never really been a huge…

Pam:
And mine are too. But what can those little kids be doing? I’m throwing you a softball, Dawn. You need to hit it. What can those little kids be doing while they’re listening?

Dawn:
They can be eating. They can be coloring. They can be flipping through pages of one of those DK books that’s even somewhat related to what you’re reading about. They’re seeing some of the images. They can paint if you’re brave.

Pam:
Oh, wait. We do the little paintbrushes with the water in the barrel and watercolors which wash off of everything.

Dawn:
Playdough. There are a lot of things that little kids can do. I think Heather sometimes pairs one of her big kids with a younger sibling, maybe not the littlest ones, but kind of the middle aged ones. The older one is responsible for helping them continue to follow along and participate. There are different things little kids can do and ways to keep other kids engaged.

Pam:
Yeah. I think the important thing here is that they are doing something, that we’ve provided them with something to do while they’re sitting and listening to this reading that’s going over their head and then other people may be like, “Well, Pam, and Dawn, why would you want to have them there in the first place?” And the fact is they’re learning. They really are taking some of this stuff in and learning it and they’re probably really going to surprise you with what they’re learning and then they’re also learning how to sit still.

Dawn:
Absolutely.

Pam:
If your Morning Time is about the length of your church service, you have done yourself a great service by teaching your kids to sit still, your little ones for that particular length of time.

Dawn:
I have had people tell me in fact that they did Morning Time at the same time as their church service. So 11:00 AM every day is sit still and listen time and then church 11:00 AM they know how to sit still.

Pam:
It completely carries over. But I think it’s so important when you have older kids to really gear that Morning Time towards them and let the little ones come along. Now, for the longest time, Mystie did her Morning Time with her family which was her prayer, her memorization, and some reading that she did with everybody and then her older kids went off to do their list and then she took her two youngest to the couch and did an even littler person Morning Time with them. I think if you have time to make that work, I think that’s not a bad thing either.

Dawn:
I think Brandy used to do something similar where they would get the most important things like Bible and then Plutarch and Shakespeare and then let her older, her high school student, go and the others just continued. It looks similar. It’s not exactly the same.

Pam:
I think that’s an important thing is that your Morning Time may be where you have your entire family together for a portion of the time and then for whatever reason, either because you have a three-year-old or a four-year-old and there’s a safe place nearby for them to be so they wander off or you have older kids who need to be let go to do other things while you keep the rest of them together and that’s completely okay. It’s still Morning Time if that’s happening after the first 15 or 20 minutes.

Dawn:
I think in that episode with Celeste. Didn’t she also let some of her younger kids put on their Crocs and go out back into their fenced yard so they were still safe and contained and she could see them out the window, but she could keep going with her older kids, her early elementary. She would let her preschoolers go play outside.

Pam:
We totally did that when Thomas was three, probably four years old. We could see him outside the picture window in the backyard and so he went out and did that while the other two and I kept going.

Dawn:
You just have to play with who needs to stay and who needs to go.

Pam:
Back to those subjects. I think this is what’s important too is that we’re not adding on. I think we get really excited with the idea of Morning Time because so many of these subjects are things that we wanted to do in our homeschool and then didn’t for a while because we’re like where do we put them? Where do we make things memorization and picture study and singing hymns and things like that? Where do we make it fit?

And when we realize, “Oh, we’re going to bring our family together and do prayer and then we can tag a few more things on there and it all just fits so lovely and so wonderfully together.” Then we get really excited as moms and we’re like, “Oh, I want my kids exposed to this and this and this,” and we add a bunch of things on there. What our kids are thinking are, “I have math and science and history and language arts and stuff over here to do and now she’s just piling more stuff on me.”

I think one of the important things is we’ve got to realize that for everything we add, we need to think about either how we can be more efficient with the other stuff we’re doing or what are we going to substitute.

Dawn:
I use a curriculum that has all of those things scheduled in and so I just pull them out of the independent work part of our day and put them into our Morning Time part of our day. That’s not been something that I’ve juggled as much as maybe some other people where you’re choosing everything on your own. Everything is already there. I’m saying, “Okay, well, we should keep doing this and we should make sure that we’re working on these things together.” And then I can pull them. I have that post that I wrote about that, too.

Pam:
Yes, about when Morning Time is not about adding more and we can link that in the show notes.

Dawn:
These are really important things as we’ve been dealing with quarantines and pandemics and what I noticed are all the free things or the arts, I noticed theater things and music things and Patrick Stewart reading Shakespeare sonnets and these are the really human things that we want to expose our kids to so they have a taste for them so that they enjoy and love them. We don’t want them to get left off because we’re just so busy getting the basics done. We really want to give that fullness of curricula.

I think a lot of people find themselves they’re doing the basics and they just feel they don’t have a place or a time when they can do those really human things. It’s not adding these, it’s just giving them weight and a heft that’s not as easily skipped, I think.

Pam:
From a practical, pedagogical, looking at scope and sequence standpoint, and this is once again kind of worked into your particular curriculum but if you are doing a bunch of nature study with all of your kids together in Morning Time, especially if your children are all elementary age, you can leave off a lot, if not all, of any other science that they’re doing. Because the skills that you’re covering with that nature study, the skills of observation, learning about the natural world, that is enough for elementary science right there. You don’t have to do that and have your sixth grader working in the sixth grade science book, your fourth grader working in a fourth grade science book, and your third grader working in a third grade science book.

Don’t add nature study on top of those three separate science curricula. Put those aside and make the nature study great and wonderful and you’re accomplishing what you need to accomplish with elementary science.

Dawn:
Reading a really good history book, I think… Didn’t Cindy read… They didn’t follow a specific curriculum but she read This Country of Ours and then she read a different history book and then she went back and read This Country of Ours, so that they always had their history spine going during Morning Time and that was something that they didn’t have to do out in the rest of their day.

Pam:
I think that’s so important when your kids see you start to do those things where you’re covering those subjects together in Morning Time and they’re not having to do it in a textbook or a workbook somewhere else then they see the efficiency of it, they see the value in doing it. So instead of using Morning Time to add on, use Morning Time as a place to teach everyone together in a way that’s probably going to be more enjoyable than what you’re able to give them individually apart.

There’s a fun science program. I think it’s called Mystery Science. I’ll have to look up the exact link and stick it in the show notes. But my kids love it and we’ve done a few of the different activities and things that were there. It’s just a great elementary science program. Unfortunately, I have some that are aged out of it at this point but we still do some of the activities so that we can do them with the younger guy because they still enjoy doing them.

If you have something like that you can pull into Morning Time that replaces something that you would be doing at another time of day, I think they feel less like, “This is not a good use of my time.”

All right. One of the other things I would like to stress is if you are new to Morning Time and you are building a Morning Time and you’re starting small and you’re building slow, go ahead and pre-identify who your toughest kid is going to be. Because there’s probably going to be one and you’re probably going to know who it is and put something in there for them very quickly. Go ahead and play to their interest. The thing that you think they’re going to like the best and make that one of the first things that you add.

Dawn:
I agree. Or something that they can have a sense of responsibility over. Two of my kids take music lessons and they take piano. They’ve taken piano for a long time. They’re both relatively good players at this point. We’ve always sung hymns at Morning Time, which Pam can attest, singing not my strong suit, no matter what Dr. Carol says.

But I like to sing and so we sing hymns and because I want them to learn them. We got just this little, terrible Five Below keyboard for Christmas and he has been playing the hymn on that little keyboard. It only plays one note at a time. He’s playing the soprano line but it helps him to be engaged that he is contributing. He is leading the hymn by playing it on the piano and making it more pleasant for all of us because I can follow somebody else who’s playing.

Pam:
What about Buck? Is Buck still singing along?

Dawn:
Oh, yes, Buck still sings along. Although with daddy home, sometimes daddy locks him into the room where he’s working in so he doesn’t sing as much which is kind of a blessing.

Pam:
Just so you know, Buck’s the dog. We’re not locking anybody into the room. Buck is Dawn’s hound and he loves to sing along with the hymns at Morning Time. I find pets really do love Morning Time.

I think that’s great though and that is such an important idea for older kids especially. When I say older, I even mean like 10 year olds, 11 year olds, who might not be as receptive to the Morning Time thing, but letting them have something where they are leading, they’re offering…

Dawn:
They’re adding value.

Pam:
Adding value. Maybe they’re leading the prayer. They’re being the one to read the passage, to read to everybody else. Choose something that they like. Obviously, don’t force a kid to read who doesn’t want to read. That’s defeating the point. But finding… When you’re doing this, when you’re trying, I think elocution is something that’s actually you can get in some great practice with elocution in Morning Time by having them read aloud. But if what you’re trying to do is you’re trying to capture them and pull them into Morning Time, make it something that they really would enjoy doing and give them some responsibility that’s going to be enjoyable to them.

Dawn:
When we were talking about aiming your content at the older kids, I was thinking it would be a great place for you to say, “Hey, when you were five, what storybook did you really like? What activity you were talking about doing the old science projects at the table so that your youngest would still get them?” Those kinds of things. “What was something that you really loved doing when you were five or six that would be kind of a nostalgia for you during Morning Time that we could do for your younger siblings?” And pull that in.

Maybe they love Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Maybe they loved listening to the classical kids’ podcast. Something that you can pull them in to saying, “I’ll leave that for the littler kids,” that kind of thing.

Pam:
Yeah, I think that’s a good thing and to allow them to share something that they enjoyed with the other kids.

Dawn:
Again, we’re building that relationship between older sibling and little sibling.

Pam:
Very much so. And, letting them lead that part of it. It’s not a bad thing at all. I want to talk about… We’ve talked about gearing it towards older kids if you have a wide age range of kids and we’ve touched on the fact that if your kids are older, make sure that… Actually, we probably haven’t touched on it enough. If your kids are older and as they’re aging up whether you’ve been doing Morning Time or you’re just starting it, make sure that you’re doing age appropriate things for those older kids. It’s what Morning Time looked like when they were, 7, 5, and 3 or when they were 10, 8, and 6 is going to look very different when they’re 14, 12, and 10.

Dawn:
There may be some elements that are very similar. You may still have hymns. You may still have Bible but we just recently added… We’re reading a pretty deep theology book in our Morning Time. We’re adding Shakespeare plays. We’re adding Plutarch. We’re doing some of these other things that are really geared toward older students. If I had younger students, we would probably still be doing those because just having the exposure to that language, those language patterns as Mr. Pudewa discusses is really good for little kids. But the ideas and the concepts and the give and take of some of those other topics is really good for your older kids.

Pam:
The ability to have those meaty discussions and allowing them to wrestle with some of those ideas and express opinions and to talk about those things, kids love that.

It’s so funny because we’ve had some really great discussions lately and I can see my kids doing that thing that kids used to do in the classroom to me where they felt like they were getting away with talking to me for a long time and getting out of doing other work. You can see it. They’re just keeping the conversation going with these great little tidbits and we’re having this discussion and they’re thinking, “Oh, we’re getting away with something,” and I’m sitting here thinking, “Oh, they’re learning so much from this discussion.” Providing opportunities for those older kids and taking the time and making the time to have those discussions where they are going to learn a lot, I think, is big. On the other hand, if your kids are seven and five and three, maybe skip the Shakespeare.

Dawn:
Yeah, maybe. If your oldest is seven, there are other things that you can certainly be doing that is preparing them to eventually get to Shakespeare but is really enjoyable for that age. I’m trying to think of…

Pam:
Just poetry in general going back to “Oooey Gooey” and getting used to those sophisticated language patterns and even with a seven, a five and a three-year-old, I’m not sure that I would dive off into big, long picture books or, excuse me, big, long chapter books. I would stick with the picture books. There’s great… Sarah Mackenzie talks about the fact that picture books often have more sophisticated language than some of the chapter books, especially chapter books written for younger kids, because the people who write them know that grownups are going to be the ones reading them to kids most likely. Don’t feel like you have to do a lot of this kind of stuff that would be more appropriate for older kids if all you have are younger kids.

Dawn:
Absolutely.

Pam:
When you’re singing hymns and your oldest is seven, it’s completely and totally okay to get up and march around the table with your instruments and things like that.

Dawn:
It is.

Pam:
Dawn’s like, “I’m not marching. Bad enough that the dog is singing along. I’m not marching.” But you probably did.

Dawn:
It is. Having those multisensory learning opportunities is very important. It’s just not something that I was ever very good at.

Pam:
But if your kids are little, it’s going to be a lot more free form and things of that nature. I just want to touch on this. So many times when people struggle with Morning Time, one of the things I tell them to do is change the location. If you are doing Morning Time in your living room and you’re frustrated by it and older kids get frustrated sometimes, I think, by the relationship thing and when they feel like little kids are wasting their time. If you’re doing it in the living room and the little kids are bouncing off the walls, and this is something that you can see builds frustration in your older kids, maybe take it to the table.

Dawn:
Absolutely.

Pam:
Especially when you have that big, wide age range of kids or a lot of kids or something like that because you only got two sides. Only two kids are going to be able to snuggle up to you and the rest of them are just going to be left to bounce around.

Dawn:
Yeah, I agree. Doing Morning Time at a table has always been way more successful for us than the picturesque kids doing needlework by the fireplace and you reading a story. That homeschool fantasy. It is a beautiful fantasy. But getting actual work done at a table often is more productive and more relaxing and more enjoyable.

Pam:
It’s something to consider. I could see it maybe going the other way. I don’t know. We’ve always done ours at a table and I’ve been happier there. But if it’s not working at the table, maybe try it away from the table and see if it helps.

Dawn:
I can see once the habit and the participation is established being able to move away from… But my kids are… They always want to be working on something. My kids color. There’s often cardboard and duct tape. My one daughter has been working on calligraphy or hand lettering kinds of things. They always have something that they’re working on in the background while they’re listening, if they’re not reading or reciting, so they like having a table.

Pam:
And they like doing Morning Time. That’s one of the reasons why they’re cool sitting there and doing it. I’ve noticed with my one child who goes back and forth with the enjoyment of Morning Time, when there’s something to do, when there’s a project that this child has been working on, I get asked, “Are we going to do Morning Time? Can we do Morning Time?” When there’s not really a hobby of the moment and it’s more, “I’m not really doing much. There’s not much that’s holding my interest for me to sit and do with my hands during Morning Time,” then the tendency is, “I don’t want to do it as much.”

I find that having something there that they enjoy doing with their hands whether that be origami or painting or drawing or duct tape, it’s been there.

Dawn:
My mother-in-law got my girls those heads with the long wigs. That one’s a little creepy but my girls sometimes they like to brush hair and do braids and stuff on the head stuck to my school table. That one’s a little…

Pam:
That may be one of weirdest things I’ve ever heard kids enjoying to do during Morning Time.

Dawn:
Be creative. Think about different things that your kids are going to be excited about doing with their hands while they’re still participating.

Pam:
Now, having said that, let’s talk about what Cindy did. For years and years, she put out field guides and her kids had nature journals and it was the thing they did. I hate to make it sound like she was a curmudgeon about it. So she required them to do this but it just became the thing that they weren’t expected to do. That they had to open those field guides and pick a picture and draw. That was what they did.

Dawn:
I tried to do that. It didn’t go as well with my kids but my kids don’t really like to draw.

Pam:
There you go. It’s possible Cindy’s kids enjoyed the drawing more. My kids like to draw. They just want to draw what they want to draw. It works. And then I think we want to end this discussion with being mindful and respectful of their schedules. I do think that truth, goodness, and beauty is worthy. Exposing our kids to it is worthy.

You mentioned this earlier, Dawn, that the arts have really flourished during this time as people are scared and as people are concerned and as people are… Life is changing very quickly around us in ways that we’ve never seen before. What are humans going back to and that are the arts. That’s so much of what’s free right now and so much of what’s available and so much of what people are turning to. It’s just a very clear indicator that these things are important, way more important, than what we’ve given them credit for with school funding and things like that over the past 20 or 30 or 40 years. They’re valuable things.

But having said that, especially when you have teenagers who have schedules and outside obligations and things like that, it’s very important to be mindful and respectful of their entire day.

Dawn:
I told you I have an alarm at the beginning of our Morning Time. I also have one that ends our Morning Time. We go an hour and a half and sometimes we’ll finish a page or two in our read aloud, but we stop. This week, we had online co-op. I wanted to do a little bit of Morning Time. We had online co-op at 10:00 and then my daughter had her regular online class at 1:00. I was like, “We’re just going to do 30 minutes. That’s it today and just do Bible and Shakespeare because we want to finish our play this week.” Just being very clear that they have other things that they’re responsible for and stopping when it’s time to stop.

Pam:
I think that’s important for them to know too. We talked about consistency and setting the expectation and things like that but also for them to know going into this… This is one of the things I love most about our spiral notebook list that I use with the kids is they know at the beginning of the day exactly how much is expected of them and when they are going to be done and what they have to do.

And the same with Morning Time, setting the timer and they know for sure that when that… It’s going to be X amount of time long and Dawn mentioned hers being an hour and a half, keep in mind, she’s got three kids close in age and she uses her Morning Time to get a large part of our curriculum done. But when your kids know… Maybe yours is only 20 minutes long or maybe yours is only 30 minutes or 40 minutes long, but they know this is how much time it’s going to take out of my day and then I’m going to be able to do my list and then I’m going to be able to do what I want.

It might be helpful too, I’ve never done this or never thought about doing this, but it also might be helpful for some kids if at the beginning of the day you were to write these are the subjects we’re going to work on in Morning Time. This is what I intend for us to do and get to and they can see what’s coming up today.

Dawn:
We loop through a few things but they’re short and quick. We tend to do pretty much the same thing every day in our Morning Time. But I think having that… They know where we are in the routine.

Pam:
Right. Your kids know. We jump around a little more. I say I have a loop schedule but I tend to fly by whim. It’s like, “Oh, I feel like doing this today.” Or, “Oh, I feel like doing this today.” They know what the selection what we’re going to be choosing from but they don’t always know exactly what it is we’re going to be doing. That might be a good thing. I love the idea of setting the timer and saying, “This is how long it’s going to be,” so they know.

Well, I think we’ve probably given people some good thoughts to chew on, some different things to try, and some ways that maybe they can try again but I would say my biggest piece of advice is stick with it.

Dawn:
Yes. Because that exposure breeds taste idea. I get pushback from my kids but they know we’re going to do it and they usually enjoy the things that we do and are glad we have done it. But 8:30 in the morning and they’re teens and they don’t want to be up and… There’s lots of things going on. But it works so well for us.

Pam:
And I think so too. Like I said I get pushback but it never stays. It’s a pushback before we start but it’s not a surly attitude throughout and once we get started… I think that comes from years and years and years of doing it. I think it would probably be a different case if we just started doing it. But you have to push through the hard part. Try some of these ideas that we’ve given you to make it better as you’re pushing through and establishing the habit.

Dawn:
Absolutely. Don’t just try them, keep them. You do Mad Libs every day, right?

Pam:
Almost every day. If I can get away with not doing it, I will. But there are very few days that I can get away with not doing it.

Dawn:
We only do Mad Libs on Friday so we look forward to Mad Libs on Friday. That’s something that we’ve done for a very long time and we do Mad Libs on Fridays and everybody’s tired by the end of the week and doing some lighter things. That day makes things better.

Pam:
Yeah. All right. Well, Dawn, thanks so much.

Dawn:
Yeah, thank you for having me. I always like talking with you.

Pam:
And there you have it. Now if you would like links to any of the resources that Dawn and I chatted about today including the new and improved downloads for all the episodes of the Your Morning Basket podcast, you can find them on the show notes for this episode. Those are at pambarnhill.com/YMB72 and also there you can find out more information about joining our Morning Time subscription as well.

Now, I’ll be back next week with another great Morning Time interview. This time Brandy Vencel from afterthoughtsblog.net will be on the show. And Brandy and I are chatting about the fact that there is no such thing as a secular education and Christian education is actually more than taking your regular subjects and putting a Bible verse on them. It is a fascinating conversation where Brandy and I talk about finding truth in every subject and we hope you join us for that episode of the show. Until then, keep seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in your homeschool day.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad ReasoningThe Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad ReasoningIEW Linguistic Development through Poetry MemorizationPinIEW Linguistic Development through Poetry MemorizationMr. Bach Comes to CallMr. Bach Comes to CallBeethoven Lives UpstairsBeethoven Lives UpstairsThis Country of Ours by H. E. MarshallThis Country of Ours by H. E. MarshallMike Mulligan and His Steam ShovelMike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

 

Key Ideas about Kids Not Liking Morning Time

  • It is okay to insist that your kids do Morning Time even if they don’t like it. Just like we would insist that our children eat healthy foods and work slowly toward the goal of them eating more of them, it is okay to use Morning Time to expose our kids to things that they may not initially enjoy. The hope though, is that over time, you can help your children to develop a taste for the things that you are introducing them to in Morning Time.
  • Building a good habit of Morning Time is easier when you start small and mom is fully engaged the entire time. It can also be helpful to set timers for beginning and end times so everyone knows what to expect out of it.
  • When working toward a successful Morning Time with older children it is important to be respectful of their time and set reasonable expectations regarding what is covered in Morning Time. Older students are more likely to enjoy Morning Time and cooperate with it if they see that you are not using it as a time to pile on too many things. It may even help if you are using the time to work on subjects together that would otherwise be part of their individual work.
  • When you have a wide range of ages in your homeschool, it is a good idea to be flexible with your approach to Morning Time. This may look like doing the most important things with everyone and then releasing your older kids to do their own work. Or, it may look like gearing most of Morning Time toward your older kids and allowing younger children to keep busy at the table and listen or play quietly nearby.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • 3:22 Meet Dawn
  • 4:42 Pam and Dawn discuss pushback over Morning Time in their homes
  • 8:55 insisting on Morning Time even if the kids don’t like it
  • 12:30 consistency and mom’s attitude in Morning Time
  • 17:15 starting small with Morning Time
  • 22:00 starting Morning Time with tweens and high schoolers
  • 24:25 when kids don’t like certain Morning Time subjects
  • 31:18 handling Morning Time with a wide age range of kids
  • 42:58 ideas for engaging the “toughest” kid during Morning Time
  • 47:35 reaching the older kids in Morning Time
  • 52:06 how location may affect Morning Time
  • 57:55 setting clear expectations
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