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Listener favorite Cindy Rollins is back on the podcast in this special cross-over episode between Your Morning Basket and the Mason Jar Podcast. Drawing on Cindy’s vast experience, we chat about which subjects are best for Morning Time plus a whole lot more.

Listen in and then search out The Mason Jar on your favorite podcast app to get the rest of the story.

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 43 of the, your morning basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. While we have a special treat on the podcast today, Cindy Rollins is back again to chat with us about subjects in your morning time. Why should you do certain subjects in your morning time? Which ones work best there and what can we learn by learning in community with each other? And this is actually part of a very special crossover episode that we are doing between your morning basket and the Mason jar. So once you have finished listening here, head on over to your favorite podcasting app and look for the Mason jar, subscribe, find the latest episode and Cindy and I will be continuing our conversation over there on that podcast. It’s going to be a lot of fun and we’ll get on with it right after this word from our sponsor. This segment is brought to you by our friends at Lauri toys.[spp-transcript]

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Cindy Rollins has been equipping families for homeschooling and morning time for years through blog posts, interviews and conference presentations, a veteran homeschooling mom to nine grown children. Cindy is the author of Mere Motherhood as well as a handbook to morning time. And she’s the cohost of the Mason jar podcast from the CiRCE. Cindy joins us on this special crossover episode between your morning basket and the Mason jar to chat about morning, time subjects, learning and community, and so much more Cindy, welcome to the program. Well thank you for having me.
I’m excited about our collaboration. Yeah, this is going to be fun. So I’ve been thinking like back to my childhood and I want to know, do you want to be Genie or do you want to be Samantha from Bewitched? Because that’s what they used to do. They would be on each other’s episodes.
That’s right. Wow. That’s tough. I guess I probably, Oh man, those are both really hard choices. I better be Samantha. Although my nose, I can wiggle my nose, but I was not allowed to watch Bewitched as a child because I had witches. So you had this burning desire to get to be friends. I was allowed to watch genies for some reason, because I guess their magic was less scary than a is, but I’m not sure. My mom tried really hard and I don’t blame her for that at all. That is so funny. Well, I will be genie then because you know, Larry Hagman as a young astronaut was actually kind of cute. Oh, he was? Yes. And neither one of the Gavins were all that remarkably handsome, but, but Samantha was very pretty Yes. In her slim little, you know, sixties housewife, crop pants that she wore. Yeah. But you get the belly dancing outfit, so Okay. Now it’s getting scary. We’ve taken this analogy too far. Oh, that’s funny. Well, I think this is going to be a lot of fun for us to kind of cross over.
So we’re going to have kind of part of the conversation here and part of the conversation on Mason jar and if you want the full rich feast of the entire conversation, or at least Cindy’s part of it, you can check out both podcasts. One of the things I did want to talk about today were kind of some subjects that you might be doing in morning time, because you know, one of the appeals of homeschooling that homeschool moms talk about a lot is the opportunity to kind of individualize a child’s education. That being said, you know, why then is it still important to do some of our learning within the context of community like we do in morning time?
Well, I love that you brought that up because that is something that comes up and it is something that, you know, we’re tailor making this education for our children. And yet what is the benefit of being in a group? Well, for me, I can’t imagine a family not being in a group at least some part of the day. I think it’s very important for the family relationships and for learning to interact with one another. If you wanted to go so far as to say that one of the downsides of homeschooling is at the child, it’s only tailored to the child and they never have to learn how to interact with other people. Then this would be an antidote to that, to that they do have to, you know, in morning time. And we like to joke. And I, I know you and I probably joked about that before about the one child that takes over that. People learn through that, the, Oh, look, this person talks all the time and that’s annoying. And we learned, okay, it’s better in a group if we take turns talking and we all don’t talk at the same time.
So I think there, one of the things I always say about my family that I find so refreshing and even apart from me and whether, you know, they think we should have homeschooled or not at different ones, they are very, very close to one another. And I think morning, time gets some credit for that. Every single morning we were together in a group. Yeah. We talk about the shared family culture that comes out of that morning time and how, you know, reading the same literature and things draws you together as a family.
But I think you’re right. Kind of learning the give and take of having a conversation of carrying on a civil debate and how, you know, how much is that needed in today’s world. All of that kind of stuff can come from sitting together and learning together in a moment When you have ideas. And then everybody looks at them a little different way, you know, and even in a family, we all don’t look at the same thing the same way. And I think we can learn so much from each other by just allowing everyone to grapple with those ideas amongst themselves.
Now with my boys, sometimes I’m actually grappling with ideas on the floor each other, but still, I feel like the benefit is really unmeasurable of that, having that time together. And if the child doesn’t learn that particular way. Well, I would question that, I mean, a small child is going to learn from being in contact with the older children. The older children are going to learn by being in contact with the younger children. I just can’t imagine how that wouldn’t be beneficial. Yeah, I think so too.
And you even touched a little bit there. You said if a child doesn’t learn in that way, because sometimes we get mothers who are concerned because, well, my kid’s not an auditory learner. He’s only a visual learner. And so he can’t do morning time, but you know, Brandy Vinsel and I have had this conversation before on a different podcast that you have to sometimes stretch your kid outside their comfort zone to and develop just because they’re not an auditory learner.
That doesn’t mean you ignore that side of them. You need to develop that side because they’re going to come a time in their life when they’re going to need to learn that. Absolutely. And I think this is where I do believe that this is a weakness that if some people will say, well, my child is a social butterfly, so I’m going to put them in school or my child is introverted.
So I’m going to keep them home. I almost think that it’s better for us to say, to do the opposite. We don’t need to worry about the things that our children are good at. Those things will take care of themselves, you know, and not to say that we shouldn’t allow them the space to, to blossom, but also it’s our duty.
If our child is not an auditory learner, I would question that. I would say maybe that child, the very thing that child needs is to hear more auditory input and not less because we don’t consider him an auditory learner. I don’t think we know everything there is to know about the brain. And as we learn, I really believe it will turn out that these sorts of types of learning environment are so much more beneficial than just whether our child learns this way or learns that way.
And I think maybe we can get kind of drive ourselves a little crazy, trying to exactly figure out each one of our children when maybe we should just, you know, this is our family, this is what we do. And you’re part of our family and you’re going to do this with us. Yeah. Because it teaches them to be adaptive. Absolutely.
Absolutely. Yeah. And also another argument I wanted to point out. Some people argue that, well, you know, homeschool children are not really exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints. And so, I mean, obviously if you’re doing a morning time within your family, it’s still a more limited kind of viewpoints, but still you mentioned grappling with different ideas earlier.
So by coming together and learning community, you do start hearing that there are other people may be your brothers and sisters, but there are other people who have different thoughts than what you do. And you can learn from those and just acknowledge the fact that there are people who have different thoughts than what you Yes, exactly. And I think that is another reason why we don’t want to be too limited in our book selection.
So that we’re only, you know, I hear this a lot now as a new generation of people come out of a different culture maybe than when I went through and I was born and I went through a culture and now different things offend different people. And so sometimes moms are rejecting certain books and certain because maybe their families do things that they don’t, they wouldn’t do in their family.
And I just think that’s such a big mistake. We need to, if someone spanks their children and we don’t spank our children, it doesn’t hurt us in any way to read about families in the past, who did that? We don’t have to go out and do the things that we’re reading about. If someone says words that maybe we wouldn’t say in our family, it doesn’t mean we have to sensor every idea so that our kids are, we want our kids to have a broad imagination and be able to understand a wide range of people. We don’t want them to just only understand people who are just like us. Yeah. And then what an opportunity for conversation about those? Absolutely. I mean, it gives you so many ideas and you get you kind of, one of the other things about that is you can see your children’s hearts where in many times they’re just repeating what they hear us say or what they think we want to hear. But sometimes when ideas are flowing and you’re in a group, but in a family, and it’s easy to disagree with your brother or your sister, you know, you can kind of get a feeling of where things are going with your children and what they are thinking about different things.
In that group with that conversation, as opposed to just one-on-one with mom, they probably do feel a little freer and something comes out and you might be surprised in a good way. And then you might be like, Oh no, I need to talk to that child. I got to get that theology, but go on his rating list or something Dumping. Yeah. That’s a really good point.
This is kind of sneaky mom. Yes, exactly. Stealth mom, you know, understanding of the kids. Yeah. Mom has got to keep her tool box full. Yeah. I like that. Okay. So we’ve kind of touched on some of these, but you might have a couple more to add someone, go ahead and ask the question. What habits and virtues do we get to practice?
When we learn in a group let’s kind of spell a couple out for people. Well, I think we’ve touched on it, but we learned to listen. That’s one thing that’s important. And it’s important. I always used to say that morning time was how I trained my children to sit in church. And it absolutely did do that. I didn’t have to have some other plan.
They were used to sitting in the mornings. And so when we went to church, it wasn’t a big deal to sit there and listen and participate there, you know, to sing and to be a part of the service. That was another thing. And then let’s see, virtues, well, to, boy, my brain is blank. What is a virtue?
Do we have, Yeah. Patience waiting your turn to get to speak, waiting to, I know this is something that happens in my house where people want to talk over someone else. Yes. So, you know, being patient while your sibling gets their thought out, especially, you know, at my house, we have some fast talkers and then we have some people who take a little more time to talk and those poor people are being constantly interrupted.
So, you know, it’s a good lesson for the fast talkers to sit and wait and be patient as that person. Yeah. It, that is very, very important. And I think that comes up pretty much every day, morning time, somebody and drawing out the person who’s quiet and asking the other person to let someone else talk. And then the kids just getting a picture of what it looks like to have that going on.
I think just interacting as a fan, the more we’re together in a family, the more hopefully that we can try to understand each other. Now, sometimes it works the opposite way. We get impatient and we’re not, we’re tired of hearing someone talk or, you know, all those lessons that we learn about a family. I heard a story once about a family that their children were all especially tenderhearted and kind because they had a handicap member in their family and how much that being around that child and being patient and loving, just soften everybody’s hearts. So sometimes when we have people in our family who are more difficult, they can help us develop the virtues that you’re talking about. Yeah. And Oh, Oh, the habit of attention. Yes. That is the virtue that I have been thinking about the most lately. And partly because I know you, and I’ve talked about Stratford Caldicot and let me put this on autopilot, the beauty and the word, my favorite boat on homeschooling, probably almost ever, just such a wonderful book and such. He brings out the point that the habit of attention is really, really tied to the habit of prayer.
And to me that our children can sit in morning time and they can, their attention span can grow. Now it grows more like, you know, when you’re reading that fun book at the end, everybody’s perfectly willing to sit there and listen to it because they know maybe math is next. And one more chapter, one more chapter. But you know, I never regretted. I said this recently, but I have never, ever looked back and said, man, I wish we hadn’t read that one more chapter that time we would have only we had done more math or gotten to the more important subjects.
I wish that we had read one more chapter more times because my children were paying attention at that point. And it was training their minds to be attentive. And I’m not sure in a culture that is quickly being changed to be inattentive. I mean, we’re actually training ourselves to be inattentive with all our devices. How important is the habit of attention we’ll strap for Caldicot says it is the most important thing.
Really, when you think of what are we ultimately going to give our attention to and that it would be our relationship with God. Yeah. Now you’re making me feel guilty because I cut St. George and the dragon in half today. So we could get on with the lesson. That’s okay. Hey, he’s still there and they’re still gonna hear it.
Yeah. We’re to, we’re going to finish it. I just, you know, and they heard they were sitting there listening so carefully and yeah. I’m like, okay, well we’ll find out what happens Monday. I’ll know. But no, I’m just kidding. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. It just, it’s such a delightful way for them to practice that habit.
Yes. Delightful. I like that. Yeah. And so giving them the time and the space to do it. You’re right. I love that. That you never looked back and regret, you know, regretting reading one more chapter to get onto the most important thing. So that’s awesome. I may have to write that down. Yeah. And now my kids might’ve been like, why didn’t you teach us more math, but I don’t know. Is there anybody who does that? No, actually my two of my children had said my one son, especially, he said, my goal is to get through college without taking one math class. And he pretty well succeeded at that. I think, I don’t know how he managed to finagle it, but math was not, but I have another son who got to college and absolutely adored math. So I felt justified that if somebody wanted to learn math, they were not hindered from learning. There you go. And you know, I think math is only as good as the teacher, so yeah. And now finding out like with Alex going to school, how little math they actually, you know, and at homeschoolers, we can be kind of hard on ourselves because we imagine there’s a teacher out there, a wonderful teacher teaching other kids, these subjects. And in some places there are, but it’s not across the board. Every math teacher and every school is not doing a phenomenal job. In many cases we’re doing just as good or better than teachers out there trying to teach math in school.
Oh yeah. I definitely think so because I had, you know, God rest her soul, the math teacher, you know, just kind of, and the, she was my math teacher from eighth grade to 12th grade. And so yeah. I went to a really small school. Well, what a wonderful experience that was and how good was that for her to know you as a student?
That’s amazing. Yeah, Yeah. Yeah. But still, I never really learned much math. It was Cause she wasn’t the best teacher. It didn’t make it exciting. I mean, I thought she was just a wonderful person, but then when I got to college and got a math teacher who I understood, like who explained it better, you know, as opposed to just walking through the algorithm, I was like, Oh, and then a little tiny spark of flickered for a while, but then I didn’t have to take any more math. And so it died, but yeah. Yeah. I’m still like that with math. I’m always just on the verge of loving it and wanting to learn more of it.
So I, but I never quite have the time to invest in it, but I’m thinking, Oh, so I always tell my students, my kids, I told and not that they listened, but, and my student and I say, you can love math. You can love it. Even if you think you can’t there, it is very lovable.
Just finding a way to find that out is the hard part. Well, let me ask you While we’re on the topic of subjects and morning time, did you ever do any kind of math in morning time? No, I never did, but I could see the possibilities just kind of like, and we’ll probably talk about this as we go along the way.
I eventually added grammar to morning time. I imagine you could add a math problem to, Oh, actually I did. I don’t know if I did this in the morning time, but I’m actually doing this now. And I’m sorry about that. Keeps saying actually my student, now we do a 24 card for the game. Have you ever seen the little math game?
24? Well, it it’s, it’s four numbers on a card and all of them eat can in some way you manipulate by adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing, they always equal 24. So you, some of the cards are pretty easy and some are difficult. Like it might have a three and a four and a two and a one while you know, that three times four is 12 and 12 times two is 24 and 24 times a one is 24. So that card would equal 24, all the cards and there’s stacks of them will equal 24 in some way. So that would be a great morning time activity everyday do one 24 card, hold it up and say, you know, okay, when you get the answer, just, you know, raise your hand or wait and we’ll wait till everybody gets it. And then we’ll see, cause there’s sometimes there’s more than one way to do it. Ooh. And that’s a great game for morning time. Yeah, that sounds fascinating. I’m going to check that one out on Amazon when we get done talking, but we do, you know, in our morning time plans that we have on the site, we actually include math in each one. You do. How do you do that? Just In a variety of ways. Sometimes we point people to, there’s a website, there’s a website and a series of books called bedtime math, which, you know, they have a little story and then they have some math problems that go with the story.
Sometimes we’ll dive into things like tessellations and we’ll use like some simple activities that we found online and YouTube videos to kind of introduce a concept to people over a period of, you know, six or seven weeks. So we have a variety of resources that we use. Sometimes we use math readers, like search or conference in the room.
Yes, yes, I did some of that. Yeah. And so we just try to find a way to put a little bit of math and two morning time. So people, kids and moms can see that there’s so much more to math than just, you know, the worksheet in the textbook and They over the lesson. Right? Exactly. Maybe they’ll find something there that’ll capture their imagination in a way that the textbook doesn’t.
So Yeah. And I think, yeah, competing a little bit with your brothers and sisters can sometimes be fun. Yes. They like that. They really do.
So. All right. Well, let’s talk about some more subjects in morning time. What were some of your personal favorite subjects to do in morning time?
Well, I think my favorite subject was probably poetry. I loved poetry and morning time gave me a wide open door to introduce that to my children. And I’m forever grateful for that. That was just something that I think affected them in a ways that they couldn’t maybe explain or even appreciate all the time, but that still, it had an impact on the way they look at the world and the way they think and their ability to write and think metaphorically and understand how there can be connections between things that may not seem to have any connections at first.
Okay. So tell me just a little bit, how did you quote unquote, do poetry and your morning time? Cause I think a lot of moms are intimidated by yeah. I Know a lot of people, well, not like does do not like poetry.
So they grew up, they don’t like poetry, so they don’t want to have it in the morning time. I always had a kind of a meter in my head, I think, I think, in iambic pentameter, but, but honestly I don’t like to complicate anything in morning time. So I would just, I mentioned this before in other contexts, but my grandmother had given me that old poem book, 101 famous poems and they were all famous poems. Some are great poetry and some are mediocre poetry, but I would just read one of those a day to the kids and the early years. And then of course we’d pick out one, we’d also memorize one. And so I was always reading a poem, just reading it, just that once. And then we were always working on something to memorize by just reading it daily. And I didn’t do a lot of, what does this mean? Why are we talking about this? You know, I’m really suspicious of too much of that sort of talk. I think we can think that’s why many people don’t like poetry.
I think we love poetry when we’re reading it. And all of a sudden we go, Oh, I think I know we grasp, we move towards what the author has left hanging. And that is what poetry does for us. It doesn’t answer all the questions, it throws them out there and then our brains are grappling with it. And there’s very few things that we do that allow us that chance to grapple and poetry is one of them.
And, and I think that we can go to bed at night in our minds. I’ve had myself wake up in the morning at times and being like, Oh, I get what that line means. And I want my children to have that too. Not because I’ve told them when every line means, but because I’ve given them the opportunity to have those strings of words in their minds.
And so I don’t think you can read poetry too often in your home. I think it’s one of the things that lead to higher levels of thinking. It can do its own work without a lot of help from us. If we just incorporate it in simple ways. Now later it’s fun to imitate poetry and you can do that in morning time quickly.
You can sometimes stop and say, okay, what is going on in this poem? As far as the rhyme scheme or how many syllables are in these lines, you can do that occasionally and have fun with it and maybe, you know, say, well, I’m going to go try to do that. You know, write a haiku, write a sonnet.
Those things are fun to do, and we can do that, but that doesn’t have to be the bulk of poetry. Poetry can just be simply be read in the morning time. Did you ever have them narrate the poem? Sometimes I would. Sometimes you could say, you know, you want to narrate this or draw a picture while I’m writing it.
Sometimes a poem is understandable the first time you read it. And oftentimes it is not. And I think that’s why people don’t like poetry. They read it a poem and they don’t know what it’s saying. And that’s why it is good to always have one poem that you’re reading over and over again, because it slowly opens up in your mind. But a lot of poems, there are a few poems that you get right away and then even easy poems. Sometimes aren’t fully comprehended the first time around. So narration’s a little more difficult with poetry, but usually you can just ask, what do you think he’s saying here? And that’s basically the gist of the narration. Does anybody think, do you think, you know what he was saying?
And then they can, then you can get a feel for whether they are way off track and sometimes they are, or whether they were actually understanding a little bit of what was going on. Yeah. Yeah. I love to play with the sounds of poems, you know? So like, you know, you have some kind of alliteration going on in the poem or internal rhyme or, you know, the obvious rhyme at the end. And so, I mean, I’ll like read it and then make my kids say it back to me because it’s, it’s fun. It rolls off the tongue. And so, you know, we’ll start saying these lines over and over again, and it actually becomes a little fun thing. And, and now the kids have gotten to where even in pros a lot of time, they’ll say, Oh mom, that’s alliteration. And they can actually yeah. Yes. And I think just making them aware that that’s going on without, you know, killing it, like you’re doing it in a way that’s enjoyable that you’re getting the biggest benefit out of the alliteration because you’re playing with the words you’re going over them again. You’re saying them, you know, in a certain way. I think that’s very valuable.
Cool. Yeah. That’s a lot of fun. Okay. So what about your kids? What do you think was there? And I know you’ve got quite a few of them, but just as a general rule while we’re their favorite subjects to do in morning time.
Well, I’m sure they would all say reading aloud, probably across the board. Everybody loved to read. We’re a family read aloud a lot and we ended morning time with reading aloud. We would read aloud several different things during morning time, small bits of historical books like this country of ours or our Island story. But then we’d always end morning time with a good book at good fun book that, that we just enjoyed reading together.
So I’m pretty sure not to cop out and say the easiest thing, but I’m pretty sure everybody would say that was their favorite. I think they liked, I think the atmosphere helped them to remember more. So they remembered more history and, and more than they would have because they were doing it as a group and they were all stretching towards the same things.
And I know all my kids love pretty much across the board. Not maybe not 100%, but history is still a favorite subject. Two of my kids have history degrees and that very valuable money-making degree that you can get in history. Actually, they’re both doing quite well. Neither one of them are out there teaching history, but it certainly didn’t harm their career choices that they did have a history degree and that there, they both were able to write well. So I’m going to history and reading aloud.
Yeah. Yeah. So nobody picked Shakespeare or Plutarch.
Well, you know what? Nobody did. Nobody would have said, Shakespeare. I did not have one of those girls that love Shakespeare. My student now might say that I have a student now who absolutely adored Shakespeare.
And it it’s so gratifying to me that I can introduce him to Shakespeare and he can relate so well to it. And he loves it. Probably nobody in my family would say that now. And probably not Plutarch’s either, but we did. I think they enjoyed Plutarch. So after awhile, I mean, Plutarch gives you a lot of ideas. My kids liked ideas.They’re good with ideas. So there was that because you can compare him to, you know, to the news. I think with, especially as we got involved as a family politically Plutarch’s became much more relevant because you could see what was going on in Plutarch was actually going on in the news.
That’s fascinating. Okay. So let’s talk about some unusual or unique subjects or activities that you might have included in your morning time.
Well, the one thing we did was we did little manners time. Like I would read, we had these little books called polite moments and I would read a manner every day. And I think the one that stood out the most, cause I would read through the little four little booklets and then I’d start over. And they were just one page, sometimes only one paragraph, little thing, but one of them was never caused fear to an older or younger or weaker person. And I think that became the motto of our family as my children might torment each other. And there was somebody who was always saying never, never caused fear to a younger weaker person. So that came up quite a bit, but we had these little manners that infused our family.
And then I’m, I have said quite frequently that I don’t know why it took me so long, but when I finally started doing grammar and morning time, it really changed everything. It changed our ability to learn grammar. Really. It changed the whole atmosphere of teaching grammar to where it’s just somebody teaching the kids some grammar and then the children not actually learning it to starting to begin to understand the English sentence in ways that we had never understood it before.
And that became just really revolutionized in such a short little time period. Everything I had tried to teach before and grammar that had not stuck at all. Okay. And I want to point out that when you did grammar and morning time, you correct me, cause I’m probably going to get something wrong, but you would do like one sentence a day on the whiteboard and you used Our Mother Tongue, but you also use the Michael Clay Thompson language Series. Yeah. When I started out, I read through a grammar book out loud. That’s how it started. And I wasn’t using the Michael Clay Thompson books at first. And I was just using the, our mother book. And this was not the book by Nancy Wilson, that books a different book, but I was using these ancient, which Blue Sky Daisies has republished. And I was just reading a tiny bit about grammar each day and we were discussing it. I would read the little explanation and we would talk about it when I finished going through that, I had stumbled upon the Michael Clay Thompson practice books. And I started putting up one of his sentences on the whiteboard each day and he breaks them down usually into four categories.
What each part is, speech is where the phrases are, where the clauses are. And then maybe, you know, if there’s a prepositional phrase or, or any of the different, those kinds of things. And then he also does, like, you were talking about the poetics of the sentence, what is, and I would only buy the teacher’s guide and then I would put the sentence up and then we would start talking about, well, you know, and then we find all the parts of speech. And then I might say, well, what is the main noun? What is the subject of the sentence? What is the main verb? The predicate is there, you know, are there phrases, are there clauses? And we would just talk our way through the sentence. And that, to me just made up for a lot of failure on my part before that time and my older children weren’t around at that point, this was really getting to be later. And at least two of my sons had graduated before I got around to doing that. And now I make an argument that grammar is one of those things that honestly is kind of like algebra.
You need to kind of wait for the brain to reach the point where it’s ready to do it. Yes. As opposed to like drilling it through the years. But I really do enjoy those Michael Clay Thompson books and that four-level sentence analysis. And so I could see where that would lend itself to a great daily discussion And, and the people who aren’t ready for it as Charlotte Mason would say are not getting anything out of it necessarily, but they are hearing you talk in this way. And I think that’s giving them a little boost for when the time comes at the light turns on they’re already going to have a lot to mull over in their mind about grammar that they may be weren’t developmentally ready to.
Even though that you were sitting there doing that sentence every day, maybe, you know, I noticed there’ll be blocks. Like now I only have one student. So he’s does very, very well. And he is very intuitive about grammar, but then when we get to class, now we’re saying, is this an independent clause or dependent because he’s okay when I hold his hand. But then that’s just not a concept that interests him. I mean, it’s kind of boring, who cares if it’s independent clause or dependent clause, but hopefully there’ll come a day when that will be more interesting to him and he’ll have some background in that that’ll come out and cause him, you know, to be glad that he had that we had those discussions.
Right, right. Yeah. Because there’s going to come a point where there’s a context for it and he’s going to be like, Oh, that’s why she made me do this.
Yeah. So yeah. Yeah. It’s conversational. I think, you know, you can kind of gauge the conversation.
Yeah. We’ve been doing mad libs in morning time and you know, which there’s a potty word in every single one of them, you know, because I have two boys, but I’ve noticed in the past few days, even that the little guy who’s about to turn eight, you know, I would say, and I kind of go around the table and say, okay, you know, give me a noun and give me a plural noun and give me an adjective. And he could give me the noun and the plural nouns and the body part, but he was struggling with the adjective.
And I’ve noticed just within the past couple of days, he’s actually spit out some really great adjectives and their actual adjectives not nailed. I think you might be getting this
Yea, Mad Libs are really perfect for that thing. And yes, I know I tried to do them last year with a couple of kids. I was teaching and they were in seventh grade. And finally I said, they’d say please, Ms. Cindy, can we do it then when I had to make a rule? Okay. But you can only give me appropriate words.
Yeah. Yeah. We have a pug and at least one inappropriate body part that starts with B every single time. Yeah. Oh goodness. Well, you know, Brandy Vencel this year is doing architecture in her morning time.
Yes. Yes. I actually had done that before, as far as just reading through Hillier’s volumes on architecture. That was basically the extent of it, but yeah, Yeah, no
I don’t think they’re doing any draftsmanship or anything like that, but yeah, she’s kind of reading through an architecture book and then Dawn Garrett has a, what she calls a beauty loop in her morning time. And one of the things in there, she posts little pictures on Instagram of her kids sitting there doing needlework while she’s nice. So those are some other kind of, I guess, more unusual, you know, kind of subjects, ideas, things that you could do in your morning time.
Yeah. There are, I mean, it’s amazing as other families come along, like I never got to some things, but now I hear other people doing them and I’m like, duh, that’s what a great idea that things blossom and get people can come up with other ideas that are unusual, but perfect for morning time.
Yeah. And we’re doing a getting started with Latin. I decided to take a year off of any kind of Latin curriculum. Well, I say that my little guy’s doing songs school, but he can pretty much do it, you know, by himself, right. With the little DVDs, but the older two and I, and the little guy joins in, we’re doing the, getting started with Latin book and it’s not a full curriculum, but it’s just a little tiny bit of Latin every single day, you know, in morning time within it has grammar discussion and it’s going really well. So even something like that could be
Oh yea, vocabulary. Yeah. Doing like even just the roots, Greek and Latin roots. It’d be perfect for morning time. Yeah. It would. It would. All right. So did you ever try a subject in morning time and it like completely flopped.
Yeah. I’m trying to think. I guess you could say that there were books that we read over the years, that I’m not a person to stop writing a book, even though people are just buzzing out, not paying any attention to me. I have a terrible habit of feeling like I must finish something I’ve started. So I think there were books over the years that, you know, probably we should have just quit reading and not read, but I can’t think of anything that completely flopped in morning time, as far as there were things that like we would do something and it was working really well. And then for some reason it would fall off the chart. And then the next year we would come back and we wouldn’t be doing it.
And then later I’d be like, Oh my goodness. Why did we stop doing that? There were things like that, that I think seasons in our family where some things were more front and center than others, but, well, our singing wasn’t so great at times.
But it was still a good morning time subject. Absolutely.
Absolutely. You must sing.
Well, are there any subjects, do you think that are kind of off the table for consideration and morning time?
I doubt it. I really doubt it. I imagine anything you’re doing, you could do on a basic level with the group. If you were learning biology, you could talk about the human body and morning time. It would be, you may not do the whole, obviously you’re not going to do the whole subject, but there’s probably some basic part of everything we would want to learn that we could do in morning time. The great thing about morning, time to me is for the things that you want to do. I think there’s a place for short term things, but the real beauty of it is that for things that you really want your children to assimilate, you only have to do it for a few minutes in the morning time. But if you do it consistently, then you have a lifetime of doing it. Then you have put a lot in the bank over the long haul. What do you call that compound interest?
Yeah. And that goes back to your, well, it’s not your poem, but it’s the one you quote about the little drops of water, little grains of sand.
Yes. Yes. That really was the picture of the metaphor of morning time that I kept. Yeah. So I like that over the long haul, which you have that name too as one of your talks. What can we do in our homes to create a good atmosphere for morning time? How can we kind of nurture this culture of learning and togetherness within the family?
What can, well, I mean, we can do it. We can do it consistently. I think the more consistent we are, the less we have to argue with people. The more something’s a given the last haggling we have to do with our children. And so I think that we can promote the idea that this is what we do in the mornings and we’re going to do it.
We can promote kindness in our family, with our children being kind to one another. And we talked about that being patient with one another and loving towards one another. I mean, it doesn’t always look like that. That’s kind of an ideal, you know, somebody hits somebody sitting next to somebody and he put his feet on me and you know, everything deteriorates very quickly in a family that way.
But I definitely think that the coming together of the family is important. You know, mealtimes are another really morning time is a way to harness kind of the liturgy of the day so that you have meal times, you have morning time. And these are the times that we come together as a family, then we go forth and we’re, and we’re apart. But, but we also come together.
Yeah. Something else I’m thinking of is I’m thinking about this question is your admonition, did I say that right? To moms? Not to sermonize Yes. You know? Yeah. That if you’re sermonizing to your kids, you know, they’re not gonna want to come to morning time because no she’s going to preach at us.
Right. Exactly. And that is something, you know, I had to learn the hard way. And I really hope that, you know, I always say that I’m just passing along the things I learned the hard way. And I really did learn that when the hard way I was quite a preacher and when my kids were little, it worked, it worked okay. They all hung on every word I got up, I read the Bible verse. I full of passion. I talked about what kind of people they were going to be, you know, and blah, blah, blah. And then one day I looked up and nobody was paying any attention to my sermons. And I realized that I had to quit. I had to stop preaching.
And you know, it has been amazing to me to watch, especially my youngest child, how, when I let go and let him grow as a person, how well he does that. And I don’t try to control him through my, I teach him and I put the good things out there, but I stepped back and let God do that work in his life.
And you know what, God has done it. And he’s such a strong kid because of that. And it’s very comforting to realize that it’s not all up to me giving the right sermon every morning.
Yeah. And I think the other thing would be creating a safe place for them, you know? So they feel like they can be heard. They can express their thoughts and ideas and you know, neither mom nor a sibling is going to be allowed to, you know, discredit that.
Yeah. In Charlotte, Mason, there’s a beautiful quote. I don’t think it’s by her. I use it in one of my talks where if your child says something that alarms you and you shut them down with your preaching, all you’ve done is taught that child not to trust you and to never ever open their heart up to you again, that’s just me paraphrasing it. So we want morning time. We don’t want it to be a place where we shut down things that make us nervous or scare us or ideas that our children have. We want it to be a safe place where different ideas can flow.
Yeah. Yeah. And I just, I’m looking at my eyes are like skimming the words of this last sentence again, how can we nurture this culture of learning and togetherness within the family? And I just want to tell moms to take heart in the day-to-day. It’s not pretty. Absolutely absolutely. You know, it’s messy and noisy and sloppy and you know, it stopped doing this and sit down and are you even listening to me and why are you going to the bathroom? And do you really have to have that third snack and come on? You know, or that’s how it is at my house. It sounds like you were talking earlier about how the morning time was, how you trained them to sit still in church. And I’m like, boy, I really missed the ball.
Well, and they don’t sit still the whole time. I mean, I let my kids move around quite a bit and play with blocks or play with Legos or, or draw or do all kinds of things during morning time. Not just, you know, sit. Usually the time that they’re sitting quietly is during the Bible time, I did ask them, you know what? They did sit there quietly. We read the Bible, we did our Bible memory and then things loosened up a little bit, you know, we sang. And then from there they could plug into different wiggles that they might need to get out. And, you know, so, and I always say the danger is that we talk about these things in an idyllic way. And then, and moms get discouraged when they go to have morning time because it’s not like that. And it isn’t the key to the morning time is just to do it and to be faithful and not to worry about the fact that today was a terrible morning. Some morning times will be, will be beautiful. And, and most of them probably won’t rise to the level of true beauty, but there will be spots along the way where ideas will catch hold. And you’re just giving your children an opportunity to have those ideas in their hearts.
Yeah. Yeah. So keep going, mama. I mean, that’s what we want to tell you is just, just keep at it. And it, you know, ours are not always pretty and yours won’t be, but it’s, it’s worth it to keep doing it so well, Cindy, we are going to, we’re going to continue this conversation over on the Mason jar. So we will say goodbye and pop back up and say hello again. All right. That sounds great.
Well, thanks so much. All right. Thank you, Pam.
And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the books or resources that Cindy and I chatted about today, you can find them on the show notes for this episode of the podcast that set And remember to hear the continuation of this conversation, head to your favorite podcast app and search up the Mason jar. And you’ll find the other part of the conversation there between Cindy and myself. And while you’re there, be sure to subscribe to the Mason jar for more great conversation from Cindy and her guests and it’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States.
So we would like to say how very much we are thankful for you. Our podcast listeners, we’ll be back in a couple of weeks to close out the season with another great guest and until then keep seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in your homeschool.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

Mere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, & My Journey Toward SanctificationPinMere Motherhood: Morning Times, Nursery Rhymes, & My Journey Toward SanctificationA Handbook to Morning TimePinA Handbook to Morning TimeBeauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of EducationPinBeauty in the Word: Rethinking the Foundations of EducationSaint George and the DragonPinSaint George and the Dragon24 Game: 48 Card Deck, Single Digit cards Math GamePin24 Game: 48 Card Deck, Single Digit cards Math Game101 Famous PoemsPin101 Famous PoemsOur Mother Tongue: An Introductory Guide to English GrammarPinOur Mother Tongue: An Introductory Guide to English GrammarGetting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age (English and Latin Edition)PinGetting Started with Latin: Beginning Latin for Homeschoolers and Self-Taught Students of Any Age (English and Latin Edition)


Key Ideas about Subjects and Virtue in Morning Time

  • Morning Time provides an opportunity for learning in community and developing a shared family culture. Learning together in this way allows each child to develop virtues and skills like patience and attention. And, it gives children a chance to enter into discussion and debate with one another, realizing that not everyone sees or thinks about things the same way.
  • Poetry is Cindy’s favorite Morning Time subject and is a great tool for teaching children how to think, write and look at the world differently. Teaching poetry can be as simple as reading from a book of poetry every day and choosing something to memorize as a family by reading it daily.
  • Doing Morning Time consistently helps to build a positive atmosphere in your homeschool. Even if you are only doing it for a short time each day, the ideas you expose your children to will add up over the long run.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • 2:39 meet Cindy Rollins
  • 4:50 benefits of Morning Time
  • 12:50 habits and virtues we learn as a group
  • 22:25 Cindy’s personal favorites in Morning Time
  • 23:35 doing poetry in Morning Time
  • 30:40 unique subjects and activities
  • 38:44 Morning Time flops
  • 41:09 building a Morning Time atmosphere

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