I think my family has entered the golden age of Morning Time. My three kids range in age from 6 to 10. We have no toddlers to disrupt us (though don’t be fooled in thinking things are too quiet) and we have no teens who need to rush away to complete a list of requirements to earn credits.
It is just us, together, learning to love beauty.
I know, though, that most families are operating outside of the golden age. The are dealing with a wide range of ages, the blessed noise of babies, or the hurried departure and awkward scheduling of dealing with a teen.
Then there are those who only have very young children or only have teens. Or what about the family homeschooling only one child. Those situations bring entirely new challenges to light.
Listen to this post.
These families have a hard time wrapping their heads around what Morning Time will look like,
because so often families in the golden age or the wide-span are held up as models.
Let’s break down what Morning Time might be like in these homes.
Morning Time with just young children
If all of your kids are under the age of about six, then your Morning Time will look far different than mine. I have moms write me concerned that little kids don’t have an attention span for chapter books or wanting to know which version of Shakespeare should they use. And their oldest is only 4.
Morning Time for littles could include:
- Nursery rhymes
- One prayer at a time
- Children’s songs (those old favorites you learned as a kid)
- Marching and instruments
- Quality picture books
- A good children’s Bible like this or this (not too much in one sitting)
- Finger plays
- A snack
Not Shakespeare, not the Nicene Creed in its entirety, not even Winnie the Pooh or Little House in the Big Woods. When you think attention spans are growing, then try adding a few minutes (not necessarily an entire chapter) from a book on this list, short poems by Hillaire Bellock, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Odgen Nash. Those are the kinds of things that will make your little kid Morning Time a success.
For more information about Morning Time with just littles, check out my podcast with Celeste Cruz.
Morning basket contents for the young crowd
Read-Aloud Book of Bible StoriesThe Child’s Story BibleWee Sing Children’s Songs and FingerplaysCatholic Prayer Book for ChildrenA Child’s Book of PrayersThe Real Mother GooseRead-Aloud Poems for Young People: Readings from the Worlds Best Loved VersesMelissa & Doug Band in a BoxCaps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey BusinessCorduroyThe Classic Treasury of Aesop’s FablesDo You Have a Hat?The Blizzard’s RobeVolcano Wakes Up!This Is My Home, This Is My School
Morning Time with teens
At the other end of the spectrum, there are moms wanting to start a Morning Time for the very first time and they only have teens. When you are facing a bunch of teenagers the last thing you might want to suggest is sitting for an hour reading Shakespeare, call and response memorization, or tons of poetry.
For many teens, especially boys, you are going to have to be a little more subtle starting out.
Morning Time with teens should be an invitation. Mom invites a teen for a warm beverage (like tea, coffee, or a latte). If needed Mom also provides a tempting snack to go with said beverage. Maybe something from a secret stash like a scone, biscotti, or a morning cookie (or four if you have boys). Something really tempting.
Then start with material that is interesting to them. Teens love to argue and discuss and explore their views of the world. Begin with logic, current events, and apologetics.
Position yourself as a co-learner in the Morning Time space. Encourage them to choose a favorite poem to memorize and then you do the same. Take turns leading prayer and reading aloud. Let them make some of the decisions about what the time will look like.
Morning Time with teens should include:
- Logic like The Fallacy Detective
- Poetry of their own choosing and even song-lyrics as poetry
- Book club-style discussions
- Book vs. movie discussions
- Shared ownership and reading aloud
- Current events
If you are working with a bunch of kids who are not used to deep discussions about literature don’t be afraid to use a Shakespeare version that puts the original side-by-side with a modern “translation.” Be sure to get everyone their own copy so you can all take parts and read.
Also, higher interest books like Fellowship of the Ring, The Giver, Ender’s Game, To Kill A Mockingbird, or A Wrinkle in Time are places to dig into literature with kids who have not had much experience beyond just having to read and answer questions for a class. There is no need to start with War and Peace — really.
Morning Basket contents for teens
The Fallacy Detective: Thirty-Eight Lessons on How to Recognize Bad ReasoningThe Thinking Toolbox: Thirty-five Lessons That Will Build Your Reasoning SkillsProve It! God: Revised EditionMore Than a CarpenterHamlet (No Fear Shakespeare)No Fear Shakespeare: Henry VMuch Ado About Nothing (No Fear Shakespeare)To Kill a MockingbirdThe Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the RingsEnder’s Game (The Ender Quintet)The Giver (Giver Quartet)A Wrinkle in Time (Time Quintet)Sailing Alone Around the Room: New and Selected Poems
Morning Time with an only child
Moms with only one at home struggle with setting Morning Time apart as a separate learning time. After all, their entire homeschool day is the whole family together.
To make Morning Time set apart you will want to emphasize the ritual aspects of the practice. Light a candle to begin and blow it out at the end. (Be encouraged that there will be no fighting over who gets to do that.) Mom can emphasize her role as a co-learner in this time as well. This is a time for both of you to learn together.
Morning Time with one child should include:
- A ritual beginning and end
- Take turns leading prayer and reading aloud
- Take turns leading memory work each from your own binder
No two Morning Times will look alike and that is the way it should be. Like any other homeschooling practice, when we try to start fitting ourselves into someone else’s plans then things just won’t seem to fit.
Keep looking for the ways to make Morning Time your own and then own it.