YMB #61 Morning Time with Teens: A Conversation with Heather Woodie

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Today we are joined on the podcast by Heather Woodie of Blog She Wrote, mom of four young adults. Heather has been practicing Morning Time in her family for a number of years, and has seen a shift in the practice as she has graduated two kids and is now left home with two more teens to go.

In this episode of the podcast we chat about:

  • how Heather’s Morning Time changed has changed over the years.
  • why is Morning Time still a valuable practice in the teen years.
  • what kind of adjustments and challenges a teen-only Morning Time brings.
  • how Heather’s role at Morning Time changed as the kids have gotten older.
  • and how Heather has been able to use topics from Morning Time as coursework and credits for the purposes of high school transcripts
  • plus so much more.

Sit back and enjoy as we dive into Morning Time with the teen set.

HSP 33 Lesli Richards: Things I Wish I Had Known

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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 61 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy that you’re joining me here today. Well, we are back. If you are a long time, Your Morning Basket listener, you noticed that this podcast took about a year long hiatus and I’m going to tell you why we did that, what we were doing instead and why we’re back now. But I’m so happy to be back, talking all about morning time. So this is what happened. Most of you know me and you know that I’m a homeschooling mom of three kids and up until December of 2018, I had three different homeschooling podcasts. And in an effort to kind of condense my work down into fewer responsibilities, so I could spend more time focusing on homeschooling my kids, especially as they got older, I decided to consolidate all of my podcasts into one podcast.

Pam: And you know sometimes how you have these great ideas, and in your brain they just work fabulously. And they don’t work quite so fabulously for everyone else. So in my brain, I was combining all of my podcasts into one general homeschooling podcast, and everybody would be happy about that. But what I discovered later was that a couple of things were going on. First of all, the people who loved the Your Morning Basket podcast, the Your Morning Basket podcast listeners, didn’t exactly make the jump with me to the other podcast. They loved Your Morning Basket because it focused on some very specific things. Things like truth, goodness and beauty and the morning time aspect and it was a little more philosophical and things of that nature. So that was the first thing. The second thing I came to discover was, I really missed spending a lot of my time talking about morning time, and if I was going to simplify my life and simplify my website, I wanted to make that shift to where morning time was what I spent the majority of my time focusing on.

Pam: And so it took me about a year to figure it out. Sometimes I’m a little slow, but that’s the direction that we’re going to go and so over the next few weeks, a few different things are going to happen. Your Morning Basket is going to have its own dedicated home online. It’s going to stay pambarnhill.com but the look of it is going to begin to change and you’re going to notice that the focus there is Your Morning Basket and all about morning time. The second thing that’s happening is this podcast is coming back. We’re going to be releasing this podcast every two weeks throughout 2020 and beyond. We’re going to take a couple of short hiatuses. We’ll be on hiatus during the month of June and during the month of December. That’s going to give you an opportunity to catch up on episodes, but I know you get behind on episodes, listening to them, just like I get behind on making episodes.

Pam: And so it’s nice for me to get a little break a couple of times a year. So we’ll do a really brief hiatus. But other than that we’re going to have over 20 new morning time, specific episodes for you guys in 2020, and then going forward as well. So it’s going to be all Your Morning Basket all the time. We’re super excited about that and where that is going to take the podcast. So if you woke up, hopefully pleasantly surprised, to find the rooster back in your podcast feed and you’re excited about the fact that we’re back. We’re so excited to be back and we’re happy to be here with you. So there you go. So let me tell you a little bit about what’s going to happen over the next few weeks. We actually have a number of really fabulous morning time centric interviews that I did in 2019 and were published on my other podcast, The Homeschool Solution Show.

Pam: So instead of letting those podcasts kind of languish out there outside of the quote unquote “morning time cannon”, what we wanted to do is we wanted to roll those in to the Your Morning Basket podcast. And so this episode is the first of those episodes. We have about six episodes that were very specific to morning time. And so if you were a Homeschool Solutions listener, these are going to be archived episodes for you. These are going to be things that you might have heard before in 2019, that’s not to say that they’re not good for another listen. If you’re a Your Morning Basket listener and you’ve never listened to the Homeschool Solutions Show, you’re going to love this because we’re starting off by pulling in some of that great morning time content that you might have missed. And so this is going to take us through the end of January, and I just told you we’re going to take December of 2020 off.

Pam: We’re not doing that in 2019 we’re starting right now, the end of November, and we’re just going to keep going straight on through. We’re going to start with those archival episodes and kind of replays, if you will, and play those first and by the beginning of February we will have brand new content for you. But like I said, if you never listened to the Homeschool Solution Show, it’s all brand new content to you and we think you’re really, really going to enjoy what we have to offer. So on today’s episode of the podcast, we have Heather Woody from blogshewrote.com and this episode is all about a question that we get asked quite a bit, at Your Morning Basket and that is what does morning time look like with teenagers. Now Heather has been doing morning time through many, many years with her family and she’s got two kids left at home and they are both teenagers.

Pam: So right now she is doing morning time with only teenagers. So this was a fabulous episode. And in here we talked about how Heather’s morning time has changed over the years, over the many years that she’s been doing it, why she thinks it’s still a valuable practice as her kids get to be teens. I mean, why do you even take time for this? As your day gets busier and busier? How Heather’s role in morning time has changed, as her kids have gotten older, and something that I think you’re going to find really fascinating, how Heather has been able to use the topics for morning time as coursework and credits for the purposes of high school transcripts.

Pam: So often we get this false dichotomy in our head that the things we’re doing in morning time are not necessarily things that we can put on a transcript, that there’s real schoolwork and there’s morning time work and that’s really not the case. So often we can take the work that we’re doing in the morning time and move it into what we’re going to put on a transcript for a high school student. So I think you’re going to find this conversation really fascinating and we’ll get on with it right after this word from our sponsor.

Pam: This episode of the Your Morning Basket podcast is brought to you by the Christmas Celebration, a Morning Time Plan. These are a lovely three week set of plans that you can use with your family during the holiday season, to celebrate the birth of Christ, to enjoy the holidays, to take a little extra time to slow down and really enjoy each other and the season. And the best thing of all about these plans is, they are absolutely free.

Pam: All you have to do to get your very own set of plans is come on over to the website at pambarnhill.com/Christmas, and you’ll be taken to the shop where you can add them to your cart and download them for absolutely nothing. This set is full of holiday goodness, including selections from the Nutcracker for art and music. Wonderful scripture to memorize, picture study of the nativity, some meaningful prayers, everything you need to make the most of your holiday season. So don’t try to put this together yourself. Let us do the hard work in choosing all the books and do the planning for you, and you just come download the plans and look like a hero to your kids. That’s at pambarnhill.com/Christmas for your free set of morning time plans. And now on with the podcast.

Pam: Heather Woody is a mom of four, who homeschools in upstate New York. A seasoned homeschool mom with two graduates and two more teens still at home, Heather uses unit studies and project based learning to tap into her kids’ interests and passions. Her website blogshewrote, is packed with great ideas and also offers families much needed information and support through her two courses, Homeschooling High School by Design and Homeschooling for College by Design. Heather joins us on this episode to talk about doing morning time with teens. Heather, welcome to the podcast.

Heather: Thank you.

Pam: Well let’s talk a little bit about morning time because you’ve been doing this for quite a while. So what does morning time look for you right now with two teenagers at home, and how has it changed over the years?

Heather: Okay, so right now for our morning time, I have an eighth grader and an 11th grader this year, and we have two teenagers who have graduated. So right now our morning time is really customized for these two particular kids I have left. So it’s kind of changed a lot over the years, depending on who I’m teaching and who’s coming to join me for morning time. And we are focusing right now, if you ask me right this second what we’re doing, we’re reading aloud, we watch videos and we play games. We insert some seasonal things depending on what time of year we’re talking about. And then the other thing I would say is we may not do morning time every single day right now, for a variety of reasons.

Pam: Okay. So hold on one second. I really want to ask you about something. You just told me you do not do morning time every day. And I think a lot of times people have it in their heads that morning time is an all or nothing proposition. Either you’re going to do it or you’re not. So what are some of the circumstances that you were talking about? Why wouldn’t you do it every day?

Heather: Well, teenagers kind of have their own schedules sometimes, both in what they’re doing during the day and what time they arrive on scene and all those kinds of things. Doing morning time with teenagers requires some flexibility. And as a parent and a homeschool mom, if you are really committed to the idea of having morning time every day and then it doesn’t work for a variety of reasons, that can be really frustrating. So I try to go with the idea that it’s important to be flexible and to really enjoy it when it happens, versus trying to force it every single day, when it may not just be the season for that, could be for a variety of reasons.

Heather: For us in our homeschool, I have teenagers with a couple of chronic conditions, and we don’t actually do morning time in the morning.

Pam: Second big shocker here.

Heather: We do it in the afternoon usually, and yeah, I actually call it meeting time most of the time, just because I had to sort of drop away the morning, so I didn’t feel like I was automatically failing right out of the gate. If we don’t name what time of day it’s going to happen, then we can just get together and have a good time.

Pam: Okay, I like that. So you still feel like you’re consistent enough with it that it’s a thing.

Heather: Yes.

Pam: But you not tied to the fact that it has to be done every single day.

Heather: Yeah. Now that carries some downsides with it, because once you’re off and running with the day, it can be difficult to corral everyone back and kind of change gears, shift the momentum. So that’s one downside of that. But I think if your teenagers are on board, they understand that, okay, it’s time to switch gears and do something different and join mom for this thing that we’re going to do.

Pam: So do you try to tie it to a particular time of day? So you’re not doing it in the morning, but do you try to peg it to some other part of the day or is it pretty much random as to when it happens?

Heather: I like to do it around lunchtime or shortly thereafter, might be like a one or two o’clock type of thing. And it really just happens, it really depends on when you have the most consistency in your homeschool, is when I would tie it to.

Pam: Okay. And does that switch from year to year now, or even from semester to semester, depending on what else you guys have going on?

Heather: It can change. Yep. Or I might just come when I see both of our boys, I may just say, hey, this is what time I’m looking at for meeting time today. So they know and understand, like having in their mental routine that they’re going to have to be available at that time.

Pam: Okay. Love it. All right, so let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing during that time. So let’s just hash some of that out a little bit. So what do your teens love about morning time? What keeps bringing them back to the table or the meeting area?

Heather: Well, the content, and I try to tailor that, we do reading aloud. That’s one of the main times, it’s not the only time I read aloud with my teens, but it is the only time probably that I’m going to read aloud with all of my teams together. So I actually read aloud one-on-one with my teens and even my 20 year old still reads to me, from CS Lewis. So we have kind of different things that happen, but if it’s going to happen together, then it’s going to be at morning time. And we usually have some kind of video content that relates to either a current event, or it could be something that they’re learning about or want to learn about. My 13 year old loves to help us to learn, by showing us something that he has seen. So we often do that during morning time, and then we play a game and I usually pick that time to do some kind of short game, every now and then a little bit longer.

Pam: Okay. So I know people are going to want to know. So give me some examples. What are a couple of things that you’re either reading in your morning time right now with all of your teens together or maybe you’ve one of your favorites from the past few months.

Heather: Well we’ve been working through the Swallows and Amazon series, and we’re on Coot club, which I think is the fifth book. If you’re not familiar with the series, it can take a little doing to get into the story. So sometimes we’re too not successful with continuing with that one. My 13 year old wanted a break from it, and I asked the boys to decide on something they wanted to read together, they had to agree on it, because there are a lot of big tastes differences. And I have a kid who’s really intense about his likes and dislikes, and so I try to help him to be agreeable to what we’re going to do, so that I can have success. And the thing that they decided on, believe it or not, at 13 and 16 was The Magician’s Nephew.

Pam: Oh wow.

Heather: We are doing a reread of Narnia, in any order we wanted, because we’ve already been introduced to the world. We’re starting with the Magician’s Nephew.

Pam: So was there debate over what order you should read it in?

Heather: Of course. But since we’re strong believers in meeting the magical world in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and doing the Magician’s Nephew, after you’ve been introduced to the magic of that world. But we’ve already been through it a number of times, and so we just wanted to jump in with something that was fun, and that’s what we chose.

Pam: Awesome. Okay. So before I ask you about the video content, I do want to point out, Heather has a great guide on her website for reading books with teens and talking about books with teens. And so we’ll put a link to blog she wrote in the show notes so you guys can hop over and find that on the sidebar of her website. So just to touch on that a little bit, Heather, after you read, you have kind of a period of time for discussion?

Heather: Yeah. And actually when you get to the teen years, it’s going to be a really fun discussion. Because after you’ve been pouring in all this time, and your kids are introduced to books, and then you arrive at the teen years, and then they start forming their own opinions, and you can have a really nice spirited discussion with your teens over almost anything in a book, or a movie or a video. It’s those discussions that really begin to cement some of the things that they’ve learned from you, and some of the values they bring, and kind of really make it their own, as they begin to look outward on the rest of the world.

Pam: Yeah, I love that. Okay, so let’s talk about those videos for just a second. So it sounds like you have a 13 year old who’s bringing some things to the table that he wants you to see.

Heather: Yep.

Pam: And what other kinds of videos do you use with your teens? Anything specific?

Heather: Well, it’s usually a YouTube channel that has either maybe a Ted talk, or it might be just a topical video on a subject matter. We like Crash Course for our teens. Hank Green does a lot with Crash Course, at least biology and chemistry. And then he also does SciShow. Hank is a really funny guy. He’s a little mouthy, he’s a little sassy, but teenagers appreciate him a lot.

Pam: Okay, so content for teens and not necessarily your seven or eight year old.

Heather: Definitely, where Hank Green is concerned, that is true.

Pam: Okay. Preview that one to make sure it’s right for your family.

Heather: Yes.

Pam: Love it. Okay. So we’ve kind of touched on some of the adjustments that you’ve made to your morning time routines and expectations to kind of make it work with your teenagers. We’ve talked about the time of day for sure, but can you touch on maybe how you’ve changed the setting and we really have talked about content, so focus a little bit more on the setting or what content even, has worked in the past that’s not working quite so well anymore, in your morning time.

Heather: Okay. So the setting depends on whether we’re going to watch the video or read a book. Our house is set up that, what would really be somebody’s living room, is our school area, which just means it’s got a lot of bookshelves, a table for school and games. And then because my daughter, is a designer and does sewing and stuff, we have a cutting counter in that room too. And then we have a media room and a family room and it can be in any one of those spaces. It’s not really tied down to any place. It kind of depends on what I want the kids to do. And if I snag them while they’re eating, I will read aloud there. It’ll be at the kitchen table. So we’re kind of opportunistic with our setting. And that pretty much goes along with my kids being pretty individualistic and me trying to make sure that everybody is not going to be put off by where they are that day and that time, sounds very particular, but that’s how it is.

Heather: And then content. So one thing I would say about content is, that you should really tailor it to who your kids are, and where they are, and what they’re doing. And morning time is a great time to insert things as a homeschool mom that they might not ordinarily see any other time. But I like to encourage people to not worry so much about what others are doing in their morning time, and really concentrate on what’s right for you and your family. So I know Pam, that you have lots of plans for people who want that and want to incorporate that. But I don’t like moms to feel badly, because well we didn’t do Shakespeare or we didn’t read something that maybe should be read during morning time, and really just think of it as an opportunity to introduce things that they wouldn’t ordinarily get. And by the time they get to be teenagers, their schedules will be pretty heavy with other things. So I kind of like to use morning time as a time of connection and relationship and not worry as much about content.

Pam: Okay. So having said that, I’m writing by the way, that great quote you said because I love it. But having said that, is there ever been something that you really felt like was important for your teens to be exposed to? Are these conversations for you to have or something like that, that really kind of flopped? And you had either this image build up in your head, or this burning need you felt, and it flopped and then, what did you do? Did you let it go? Did you press the issue? Because maybe Shakespeare’s not the hill you’re going to die on, but maybe-

Heather: Maybe something else is.

Pam: Yeah.

Heather: Well we’ve done Shakespeare and we use Ken Ludwig’s book on how to teach your children Shakespeare. And I had my kids memorizing it and it was a really good time. And my kids really loved it, until we went to see it. And that is, I know so much the opposite of most people.

Pam: That is crazy.

Heather: But my 13 year old, he’s an intense character and we went to see 12th Night at a summer program, and he just really get past the teasing, and having it played out in front of him like that, was more than he really wanted to handle. And so he’s done with Shakespeare. So we have not revisited that and so it’s kind of interesting. I know people like to see it come alive, but that was really a deal breaker for him, and it kind of colored everything about it for him, including Midsummer Night’s Dream, which really is about a fairy playing tricks on people.

Heather: So that flopped for us. I had to set that aside and have been unable to bring it back. He was enchanted with it before that, by the way, I should say. So it really just changed his view to actually see it play out. I have started books that just did not get anywhere and just set them aside, and we just change gears. I can’t think of anything recently that was a mountain that I was going to die on. I think the mountain that I die on is that we’re going to have this time. I think that’s the one thing that I’m like, nope, that’s a foundation of our homeschool, like since forever and we’re going to continue with it. If it has to change, that’s okay. But I’m going to double down on keeping this time.

Pam: So the connection and the relationship really trumps any content?

Heather: Definitely, yeah. Because we have a lot of connection points in our home over books and shows and story worlds. So my husband is a big science fiction fan and he’s been introducing the kids, systematically to various fandoms. So he’s done the original Star Trek and Star Trek, Next Generation. And then Stargate and I don’t know how many of your listeners know about Stargate, but Richard Dean Anderson in the ’90s and early 2000s, had this great show and really a lot of content there. And that is our connection point. My kids are waiting for college kids to come back, so they can finish the series they’ve been watching for two years together. So we have a lot of connection points that don’t necessarily happen in a traditional meeting time. But that is, if we’re going to connect strictly academically, it would be, that’s the easiest time.

Heather: And then dinner time is often a meeting time for us, when my husband can join in and discuss the things that my kids are hearing and learning and bringing his perspective as well.

Pam: Right. And it sounds like the morning time is where a lot of those whole family kind of literature discussions happen.

Heather: They can. They happen like one-on-one. We’re around each other all day, so if somebody asks something, a discussion will come up. So even if we don’t get that official meeting time in for a day, discussion and connection will happen. But I think in the teenage years, when your focus begins to shift, especially towards the second half of high school, that’s maybe the one, if you’re not purposeful about bringing all of your teams together, you’re going to lose something in your homeschool day, particularly. Because they’re off doing their own thing, meeting their own goals in a variety of ways.

Pam: Well, let’s talk about some of, and you’ve kind of alluded to some of this, but I really specifically want to ask you about, how much time you spend. So we know that the high school years are really demanding. There’s some heavier coursework and there’s a lot of commitments for the kids. Sometimes kids even get jobs and things like that. So how does that influence your plan and practice for morning time? And I know we’ve talked about it, but could you give me an amount of time that you spend? I mean, is there ever a point where you say, we’re spending too much time on this. It’s taking up too much of our day?

Heather: Well not in the high school years. I don’t feel like I tread in that place, just because when my kids were younger, we did a lot of school together. You mentioned that we do unit studies and that sort of how we progress through our day, and much of our time was spent together with the kids at different levels. In high school and late middle school, my eighth graders really doing high school content. It changes, because we don’t have a lot of time to work on that. If my kids are going to do the other things they want to do and not be at it for many hours longer than they would like to be. So I would say 30 minutes is our maximum, could be 45 if we have a good game going.

Pam: Okay. And let’s talk about some of those games. You’ve mentioned games a couple of times and I wanted to ask you about specific kinds of games, that you guys might be playing.

Heather: So because I use this as a momentum builder into the day, and sort of an invitation to come to meeting time, I don’t necessarily use strictly educational games. If it’s a longer game, I might go Ticket to Ride, because you don’t have to spend all day playing that game. Unlike other strategy games that take a lot longer. It might be a very short game, like a game of Love Letter, which is a card game or we might play a game of Codenames, which is really fantastic for a word game. I have a list of morning time games on my website, the ones that are our favorites. Set is another good one.

Pam: Oh yeah, we have that one. And we can link to the morning time games in the show notes. So I was not familiar with Love Letter but I was browsing around on Amazon looking for Christmas presents and came across Loot Letter, which is the munchkin version of Love Letter. So I do believe Santa Claus is going to drop that in a stocking this year. I’m not sure whose.

Heather: Yes. I’m so glad you mentioned that. Munchkin is one that we will pull out just sometimes, and we’ve had a phase of playing card games. And so we have a card game called Saboteur, which is, you’re trying to get gold as a dwarf, and you lay down pathways and people are trying to stop you. So sometimes these games are short, they’re easy. My 13 year old likes the shorter version, or I might let my 13 year old go and I’ll play a game of Memoir 44 with my 16 year old. Sometimes, if I feel like one of them’s not really in it, we’ll do the bare minimum and then I’ll keep going with one kid. So it just depends. Memoir is a history game, very detailed World War II game, that I’m becoming an expert at.

Pam: It’s whether you want to or not.

Heather: It is quality time with my 16 year old. So I’m like, yes, sign me up. Now I’m getting better and it’s messing with them.

Pam: But I love it though. I love the focus on that quality time and relationship. Well, let’s talk about your role as kind of the facilitator of morning time. How has it changed, as your kids have gotten older?

Heather: Well, I am more a facilitator and less the teacher during morning times. So I would say I bring my teenagers to the table and we kind of talk about what it is that we’re going to do for morning time. So mine, I tell them what my non-negotiables are, and then they come around and kind of tell me about what they prefer.

Pam: Okay. So it’s very much a give and take, even on a day to day basis as you come to the table. Do you ever plan anything out in advance? You kind of have an idea for a quarter or a term or something, like this is kind of where I want to go and what I want to do. Do you ever do a family meeting about it or is it more of a organic day to day kind of thing?

Heather: It’s a little bit of both. If I feel like I can plan ahead, then I might. So during the Christmas season we’ve been the audio of a Christmas Carol done by Tim Curry, which is fabulous. And so we might kind of focus on a seasonal item, depending on what time of the year it is. And then other times I might say, hey, I think we should cover this particular, like a geography thing, or a current event, and sometimes it’s organic. Like we recently took time to watch George HW Bush’s funeral, which was a fantastic chance to talk about statesmanship and things like that that we need to do for our home school requirements. So sometimes it’s what opportunity comes along and other times I plan. But I encourage folks that feel like they can’t plan or that planning is difficult for a number of reasons, to do it anyway.

Heather: I’m a firm believer in, you don’t have to have all the ducks in a row. A lot of times we get defeated when we think everything needs to be perfect before we launch into something, and morning time, meeting time is one of those things that I think doesn’t have to be etched in your plan book. It can be and a lot of people operate that way, which is fantastic, because you can do a lot of things, but I want to encourage those that feel like it’s one more thing that they’re not successful at, is that just bringing people together, even for 10 or 15 minutes is a win.

Pam: Yeah. Yeah. And we like to tell people start small, build slow. So even if you have one or two tricks up your sleeve and you do those for a few weeks, it’s good.

Heather: Yeah.

Pam: It’s all good, yeah.

Heather: And it really depends on what your purpose for morning time is. A lot of people do quite a bit of instruction during that time. And so that can be a win for large families and small families alike. But just thinking of morning time in terms of, that’s a lot of teacher-led time before independent time maybe. Whereas in high school, it’s really more of a conversation time and more of a time for connection, and inserting anything they’re not getting at other times. And so those goals can be really small. They don’t have to be huge.

Pam: Yeah. And I love the focus on, what is your goal for this time of day. So often, when we get started with this practice, we like, oh this sounds like a good idea. My neighbor’s doing this, this is something I heard about at co-op or this lady on this blog wrote about it and it sounds pretty cool, I’m going to do this. And we kind of take off and get started with the idea, but before we really think about what are we trying to accomplish here. For my family, I’ve got three kids who are nine, 11 and 13, so our morning time can be an hour and a half. Then we’re doing history together. My kids are doing cursive together. They’re doing grammar together, but they’re all really close in age. And so, whereas you’re doing something totally different and it’s okay, because we have different purposes. So I love that reminder so very much.

Heather: Yeah and I think it’s important when you read blogs and look at websites and you hear about what other people are doing. Some people are very discouraged by that. Some people are encouraged until they try to get started. And what I like to say is, you read and you’re inspired and then you take from that what works for you, and what fits your family. And not feel like we’re not doing it because we don’t do it this way, or it’s not the right time or I’m not doing Shakespeare. And I think those things are less important than finding out what your goal is and what you can do.

Pam: And how that’s going to benefit your family.

Heather: You really need to define your own success. Morning time, homeschooling, everything. Very much so. Yeah.

Pam: Well, okay, so give me a few more ideas. You’ve kind of touched on a few things, your seasonal things. You mentioned geography a few minutes ago. We know you like to do literature and play games, so what are a couple of other things you’ve done in morning time with your teens that are just… We know Shakespeare flopped after awhile. What are some other things you’ve done with your teens that have worked?

Heather: Current events works for us. Geography, I’ve tried mini lessons of language arts.

Pam: Give me an example because I know people want the examples.

Heather: They want the examples. Well it’s actually a pretty good time, if you are familiar with Brave Writer, I’m doing mini lessons. I picked up the Boomerang on a Christmas Carol and it has a lot of discussion just on grammar, and it’s a great time to insert, hey, let’s talk about how you use, colons for example. Or let’s talk about that controversy about the Oxford comma. Or you can sort of have fun with teenagers, if you notice a skill they need to work on, you can insert that in a fun way. And in just a matter of discussion, because they will sort of incorporate that and take it away. So if you’re looking for something concrete, it’s a good time to pull out your curriculum, if it’s something that all of your teenagers could benefit from. For language arts for example.

Pam: Yeah, I love that idea of using one of those, and Julie sells them on her website there, I don’t know, $10-11 or something like that, the little unit. Just to buy one of the arrows or the boomerangs individually. And yeah, you don’t have to use it as written where kids are doing four weeks of study dictation, or something like that. There are just some great little meaty conversations you can have about the things in the book. So, that’s a great example.

Heather: You don’t need to do that. But this was one of those times I was sailing into Christmas. I’m experiencing a new phenomenon right now, which is, school really doesn’t happen when college kids come back home, which I knew, and so I had planned that into our school year. But I wanted my 16 year old particularly, to be able to do some something light, heading into this month. And that just happened to be the perfect thing. It was risk-free to me, because I have used the Writer’s Jungle as a tool in the past and thought, hey, this would be fun to actually do something real that I don’t have to make up. I can just use this tool and that’s the same thing with your morning time plans too. I can use this tool and as long as you use the tool, then it’s worth trying out.

Pam: Yeah. Yeah, I agree.

Heather: I’m a big fan of tools in the homeschool mom toolbox. Some of them work longterm, some of them don’t. But I like them.

Pam: Right. And that’s the beautiful thing is that you’re viewing it as a tool. And it’s not a one size fits all tool. You go get the tool that’s appropriate for what you’re wanting to accomplish and use it for the moment. Sarah McKinsey has a great line about going in and getting, if you want to hang a picture you go get the hammer and you’re not feeling guilty that you’re not getting the screwdriver, because that’s not the tool you need at the moment. So kind of along those same lines, I really like it. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about, you are really great at kind of coming up with these customized plans for your kid’s high school educations, those what the courses on your site are about. And so I’m curious, you take what you’ve learned and then you use it to craft a transcript and that’s in your homeschooling for College by Design course. Have you ever been able to use anything for morning time, for credits and coursework on your teens transcripts?

Heather: Absolutely. It really depends on obviously what your content is, but the morning time content that we have in our homeschool definitely contributes to the coursework that our high schoolers are doing at any given time. So it could be related to discussions. It could be related to geography. Like for example, one thing I didn’t mention is that I’m doing a world cultures credit with my 16 year old this year, and I’m doing like a survey of world cultures with my 13 year old. Just felt like both of them could use a little look outside the world right around them. And so that’s one thing that I wanted to focus on this year. And that content that we insert into morning time is definitely part of the larger credit hours that my teens are working on.

Pam: And so you would count the time that you spend, focusing on those particular cultural, that whatever it is you’re doing in morning time that would relate to that, and you would count it towards the total credit hours.

Heather: Exactly. Yep. And that could be true for any kind of content that you’re working with for your high school courses. And honestly, if you were looking for a plan for morning time in a more cohesive way to use it, that would be my suggestion, is build it into your coursework as a piece of what’s happening.

Pam: So how would you track something like that, Heather, how do you? Do you just make little notes, kind of in a notebook or something? This is what we did today during morning time. And then as you go back and you’re adding up those hours, you look back and you’re like, oh yeah, last November we were reading about Rwanda or something like that. And you’re looking for the time that you spent doing that?

Heather: Yeah, I mean I look at how much time is required for this particular course to be a full course, to earn one credit versus half or quarter credit. And then in my plan book, which is just a spiral notebook, all of my kids are in the same one since about forever. I make a note of what we’re working on. So the way our teens work in their school time varies, depending on what they’re working on. And I have a post about scheduling that time if that’s of interest, but that’s how we would keep track of it. How much time and really realize that I may not be scrutinizing over hours. What I’m really looking at is a body of work, even by the week. Did you spend three hours a week on world cultures? Morning time might have been 45 minutes of that three hours that particular week. And so it all just begins to build in to that, the credit they’re going to earn at the end of the year.

Pam: All right. And I like that. And you can find out more information about how to put together a transcript like that and kind of the philosophy behind it, in Heather’s two courses, which she has on her site. And yeah, send me a link to that blog post as well, in the show notes for this episode. Well, Heather as you have a mom, actually me, just go ahead and talk to me, because I got a 13 year old and an 11 year old and a nine year old. Going forward over the next few years, what important things do I need to know about transitioning from morning time with younger kids, to morning time with teens?

Heather: Well I think the most important thing is, that right now if you are orchestrating a lot and having, not just facilitating, but being the one that pulls it together, being the one that does the instruction in sort of a top down approach, that as you get kids into the teen years, you may want to flip that paradigm a little bit and have them be more of a contributor to what’s happening. Because what you really want is to keep them in the game, right? What you don’t want is a teenager that feels like they don’t want to be told to come to this thing or to do this other thing or to be part of it. You want to keep them engaged and a part of what that time is offering. And the other thing I would say is, to be flexible, because you might have a teenager that is more difficult to work with during that time, and being able to kind of gauge how much do I die on this mountain and how much do I let this teenager fly for a little while.

Heather: Maybe it’s just for a season that they’ll tag out for part of morning time or all of it or bring it back in. And one of the biggest things I can say is, as your teenagers age, and they begin to do other things, try to resist the urge to keep that oldest one or two engaged, so much that you wait on them, and you don’t end up doing what it is you want to do. So not sure if that’s really clear, but an example would be, you really want your oldest to be involved but they have X, Y, Z activity. And so you wait and then by the time they get home, you can’t get it all together.

Heather: There comes a time when you need to start letting your older teenagers go and you need to focus on whose still in your homeschool full time. And so that’s my piece of advice and as homeschool moms, we want to keep doing all the things until it’s time to not do them anymore. And I would say that the time to not do them anymore is probably earlier than you want it to be.

Pam: Okay. So now made us all really sad. I’m misting up over here. Thinking they’re going to leave sooner than I want them to.

Heather: Yeah, and you have to understand my perspective on that, is that I have two college freshmen for the first time this year. And my oldest is 20, he’s a freshman at Purdue. And he had a chronic illness that kept him in a fifth year of high school and then another medical gap year, before he was able to take advantage of his scholarship and the good time that he’s going to have at Purdue. And so we had two kids leave at one time, so it’s really changed. He was here for extra and then they both left at the same time. And I can look back on how we did homeschooling and think about how I might have done differently. I was really concentrating on trying to keep everything sort of the same, and it was really not happening any easily. And I think we could have been a little more robust with what was happening with the younger kids at that time. So just little things that I’ve learned along the way.

Pam: Yeah. Yeah.

Heather: And I think as homeschool moms, we tend to hold on pretty tight.

Pam: Yeah, we do. We do.

Heather: Which is great. It’s just, it hits us all at once. That’s the real key.

Pam: Yeah. Okay. On that happy note.

Heather: On that happy note, I just want to say that having college kids is awesome and having homeschool graduates is great. It’s really been a lot of fun to watch them do the next thing. So I do want to leave everybody on an encouraging note. And I think that morning time was definitely a part of that for my students. For them, they’re thriving because they had lots of opportunities and connection points.

Pam: And there you have it. Now if you would like links to any of the books and resources that Heather and I chatted about on today’s episode of the podcast, you can find them on the show notes for this episode. Those are at pambarnhill.com/YMB61. Also on the show notes, are instructions to help you leave a rating or review of the Your Morning Basket podcast on iTunes. Their ratings and reviews you leave help us get word out about the podcast to other listeners, and we really appreciate it when you take the time to do that. Well, I’ll be back again in a couple of weeks with another great interview from the archives. This one is with Dr. Christopher Perrin and his wife Christine Perrin and we’re going to be talking all about prayer. Prayer in your morning time, prayer with your family and also your own personal prayer as well. It was a lovely interview, and I think you’ll really enjoy it. So be sure to come back and check that one out. Until then, keep seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in your homeschool day. 

 

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  • Nancy Buterbaugh says:

    Yay! So happy to have this podcast back!

  • Betsy says:

    Finally got to listen–we LOVE Stargate in our house, too :-). This was a great episode and just what I needed to hear. I’ve got a 14 yo and twins who will be 13 soon, so we’re definitely transitioning to a different sort of morning time.

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