YMB #93 Poet Teaching Poetry: A Conversation with Sally Thomas

Join me today for a delightful conversation with a Charlotte Mason homeschooling mom who also is a poet. In this episode, Sally Thomas and I discuss what drew her to writing poetry. how to experience poetry with your kids, and how you might encourage them to write their own.


People are intimidated by poetry because they think they have to do a lot to make it happen. And the truth is you don’t, you don’t have to do any more to make poetry happen in your home than you do to make stories happen in your home.

This is your morning basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day.
Hi everyone. And welcome to episode 93 of the, Your Morning Basket podcasts. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I am so happy that you’re joining me here today. Well, on today’s episode of the podcast, I am joined by homeschooling mom and poet, Sally Thomas. Now I very quickly discovered as I was talking to Sally, that I probably could have any number of fascinating conversations with her, for the podcast, but it just so happens today we’re talking about poetry, but man, there is a wealth of homeschooling information there. And so she mxkes for an absolutely fascinating guest. But today we are talking about reading poetry in your homeschool and also, you know, having your kids try their hand at writing a little bit of poetry as well.

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And what makes a poet and why does somebody want to follow that path. So much fun! I think you'll be inspired by the conversation and speaking of poetry, it is one of our very favorite things in your morning basket Plus. Your morning basket plus is where we have ready made morning time plans and monthly theme Explorations for you. We've done all the work for you to help you plan your morning time and every single set of plans and every single Exploration includes poetry that we've chosen.
So if you're still a little intimidated about picking poems, we have some really great ones that we've chosen for you and put into every set of plans. And we also memorize a poem together each month with a memory palace. Now, if you are interested in finding out more information about your morning basket plus and becoming a member, you can find that at Pambarnhill.com/YMBplus And now on with the podcast.
Sally Thomas is an accomplished poet and fiction writer, wife and home educating mother of two graduates and two seniors. She holds a bachelor's degree from Vanderbilt University and has pursued graduate coursework in English and creative writing at the University of Memphis and the university of Utah, her writing has in various publications, including the New Yorker, first things, lay, witness verily, and the Catholic literary journal dappled Things, just to name a few. She is the author of two poetry, Chatbooks fallen water, and Richele dis of Walsey numb and has a full length poetry book called Motherland, which was a finalist for the able muse book award. And it's available from Abel muse press and anywhere books are sold.
You can also find Sally at her blog Abandoned, hopefully homeschooling.com, where she writes about homeschooling in the Charlotte Mason philosophy. Sally, welcome to the podcast.
Thanks Pam. Great to be here.
I'm so glad you're here. Well, let's start by talking a little bit about you and your family and maybe a little bit about what your homeschool Was like.
Okay. Well, as everybody now knows from the introduction, my husband, Ron and I have four kids, we have a daughter who's 27, a son who's 23, a son who's 18 and a daughter who's 17. So currently the 18 and 17 year olds, they're not twins, but through the magic of homeschooling, they're in the same grade and they'll graduate this year and that'll be it. Wow. So, I mean, when you say what my homeschool was like, and a lot of ways I really am looking in the rear view mirror. And what it's like now is not very much like what it was like when I started out with four kids.
We started homeschooling when my oldest was nine after she had been in school for four years. So I had nine five one. And at that time unborn, my number four was born in December of our first year of homeschooling because it wasn't an interesting enough year.
I was going to say, that's a lot of change in one year.
Yeah. We had made a Atlantic move and you know, done this kind of free fall back to our home town. So we were all in shock. And then we had this new baby who was wonderful. She's a wonderful baby. She's a wonderful 17 year old, but it was a crazy year. And so really our first two years of homeschooling, I tell people this all the time, people tell you to D-school when your kids have been in school. And we basically did that for two years.
We took kind of a two year unschooling sabbatical, which was a really rich time, like a lot of learning went on in those two years, we did a lot of reading aloud. We did a lot of field trips. We did, you know, anything. I could just put a baby in a carrier and, you know, somehow restrain this manic toddler and you know, my kindergartener and my fourth grader, you know, we would just, we would just kind of go. And, and so we did a lot of life learning and you know, just a very unschooly orientation, but philosophically I really, there are a lot of places where I get off the bus with unschooling as it's kind of properly understood and which I don't necessarily want to go into all of that right now.
But the Charlotte Mason philosophy, which I'd read a lot about in the year before we started homeschooling, I'd been, we had started thinking about it. Cause my daughter's school experience was just, just doing a nosedive and we knew we had to do something different. And so I, you know, we knew a couple of families in England who homeschooled and that's what started me thinking that I might try this.
And so I, I spent this year researching and the Charlotte Mason philosophy just struck me as the most humane and literate and soul sustaining kind of education that could possibly exist. And I knew that was the direction that I, that I wanted to move. So about the time my oldest daughter was turning 11, everybody had turned over a couple of grade levels or years, and we started to implement the Meter Amabilis Catholic Charlotte Mason curriculum, which we've really used all the way through since, since that time. I mean, I've modified it for our own purposes every year, but that's kind of been like the backbone of what we've done. And I, you know, I started with sort of, you know, an 11 year old and a seven year old reading out loud to them while toddlers were just doing chaos all around us.
I don't even remember what the toddlers were doing, but they're still alive. So I guess it was okay.
So you can block that out eventually.
It’s amazing what you can forget. It's like childbirth, you forget. I guarantee you like your first year of homeschooling, you'll remember these wonderful moments, you know, family coziness, and you will forget like all the crying that you did and you know, all of the chaos. And so we just, we just, I dunno, I mean, we, our homeschool just kind of evolved organically over the years.
You know, we had this real steps in stairs of ages and stages that, that I sort of had to accommodate, you know, from like keeping the toddlers from killing themselves, to helping the early elementary child really get launched in reading and math, to by the time we really started doing formal school after this two year sabbatical, I had a middle schooler and, you know, to sort of start to align this child. I mean, it's kind of, it's sort of shocking to your system to think that you have an 11 year old and you, you really should be thinking three moves ahead about where they're going to be in a few years when they're ready for high school, but you do kind of start thinking that way. So yeah, you know, a real, a real spectrum of people's needs and ability levels in, in the beginning. But all of that seems like ancient history now. I mean, my last graduate was in 2015. And so I've had these two who are basically they're 17 months apart are basically the same age who have been doing basically the same thing for a lot of years.
And I mean, I also kind of feel like I've been doing high school continuously, forever. Yeah. I mean, my oldest daughter graduated in 2011 and that was about the time my next one was starting high school work. And I guess I had a little gap because my, my last two really there, their high schools sort of started around 2017.
But yeah, I just feel like I've been doing this forever and what our homeschool looks like these days is, you know, them doing some work for me, usually kind of on the fly, cause they're not home very much. So like I use a blog to keep them, like I post their work with links and links to Google docs where they write narrations.
I mean, our whole foundation has always been read and narrate, you know, the foundation of the Charlotte Mason method. And so I guess we're kind of techie just because I have to be able to do this remotely. So, you know, I have their weeks worth of assignments up on a blog. They have a Google doc where they write narrations.
So they're doing some things for me. And then they're taking right now, both of mine are taking two classes each at Belmont Abbey college where my husband teaches and as dual enrollment students. So our, our high school tends to be kind of hybrid that way. And we've always done that ever since my first child was, was in ninth grade or 10th grade actually is when we moved here, my husband started this job. So that's just kind of been our MO for this stage. And so our homeschool really looks a lot like older teenagers who are very much on the go. I mean, they drive themselves to and from campus. My daughter has a job as well. They both kind of have their circles of friends and activities.
And even with COVID, you know, they've managed to be pretty busy all the time. And so, you know, I mean, they're very independent with their, with their reading and writing and I catch up with them via their Google docs and write back to them and catch up with them when we're in the kitchen and say, you know, that book I assigned on Monday is still sitting on the shelf in the hall, either explain to me why that is or make that change so that you don't have to explain. So, I mean, that's what we kind of look like these days. Wow. And you know, so lots of changes.
It's amazing. Like just the, the distance that you've come. And I love the fact that you're like when we started circumstances dictated that, you know, so many people worry about making that transition from school to homeschool and they err on the side of, I've got to make it look just like school and, you know, to being thrown into that situation, with that, you know, international move a one-year-old, which I'm sorry, a one-year-old is way harder on homeschooling than a newborn is.
Oh, I know, I know. Yeah. You can't just hold the one year old all the time. No. And this one was, I mean, he had been walking since he was nine months old. He could, I mean, we still laugh about this, that he was the kind of little child who could walk into a room and something would spontaneously break.
I mean, it was, and we were living in an apartment, so it was just like insane all of this energy contained in this very small space. So it's like.
Yeah, like you, you stepped out in faith and you, you, you did what, you know, you brought her home because you knew that was the thing for her.
Yes, yes. Here's what you could do. And probably created this, you know, if you were to go back and write a book about those days, this wonderful lifestyle of learning that had weighed, you know, had a lot of value in it, even though it didn't look formal. And then you were able to make that a more formal transition as it met your need.
Exactly. It was the difference between having to fight people every day to do something that they didn't want to do because they were just still too close to the school experience. And even though it hadn't been very happy, it was like, well, this is not school and you're not a teacher and there's no way I'm buying this.
You know, two years later after just reading together, learning together, living together, kind of reconnecting and our relationships, we could do this without a fight. And it was so much better. It was just, you know, I have zero regrets and nobody was behind. I mean, that child who supposedly lost two years of her education still graduated from my homeschool at 17 and went to college where she graduated with honors. So nobody, nobody was behind, you know, this wasn't to anybody's detriment. And it's a lot easier to see that with hindsight, but that's always how I want to encourage new people who are just anxious because you know, this whole elaborate school plan that they have is not working. Just let it go.
Yeah. It couldn't be that back. And letting things go is the best thing you can do for them.
Right. That's not the starting point. So anyway, that's, that's kind of our homeschool trajectory.
Well, I love it. And I, what I'm seeing now is, you know, you did, you spent all of those years in the trenches with all four of those kids, and now you're living a very different where, you know, your role is very much facilitator of just a couple of classes. And so did there come a point, cause we're going to shift now to talking about the poetry and everything and your authorship of it. But did there come a point where you're like, was it always a thing or did there come a point where it's like, well, I'm just not needed as much and one day I'm going to have this empty nest and I'm going to look for something to do with myself.
Well, I mean, the pendulum has certainly been swinging. I mean, I've, I've always been a writer and just compulsively from the time. I mean, before I could read and write, I used to tell myself stories. I mean, my mother just thought I was a very weird kid. Other people's children didn't do this in her experience, but, you know, I would just take like a puzzle piece and go off in a corner and tell myself a story with it.
When I could write fluently, you know, I can remember being, and I was, I was really kind of poor student in school because I just, I just didn't like school. And I don't know, you know, I mean, possibly I, I mean, I have a lot of sort of like attention deficit tendencies. I don't have diagnosis, but clusters of lifelong behaviors really kind of point in that direction. I was kind of one of those smart, but scattered kids who's just zoned out somewhere else a lot of the time. And, you know, I mean, I came really close to flunking fourth grade math, I mean, I came close to flunking math every single year that I took math all the way through school. Cause I was writing stories in class as well. I mean, I like had this ongoing saga of horse stories that I would just write in what was supposed to be my math composition book. And you know, so this was like a bone of contention at home, but here I am. So I had always been a writer and, you know, and people do talk about like writing and other arts as a vocation.
Right. You know, like, you know, that you're called to do things. And I mean, I think for women, especially because of our, you know, if we're called to marriage and subsequently motherhood, I mean, that's sort of like an official vocation, you know, but we are because of our position in that vocation, you know, if we have these other callings like to, you know, an art form, that's very demanding, you know, we spend a lot of our lives kind of negotiating that and, and figuring out what the balances are going to be so that we're not just completely losing touch with that. You know, very central part of ourselves. That is, that is that calling to an art form.
But at the same time that we're not like shoving our families aside because that's our vocation too. And I, you know, I, for myself, I certainly didn't want to be like, you know, someday that the, you know, very artistic mother of extremely bitter adults, I, that was not the scenario I wanted. You know, I very much wanted to be a, a good and present mother to my kids. And especially when we took on this home education thing, which as I told you before I, you know, was not what I started out to do. And it's what I did end up doing. And it's just been another, you know, another thing to balance in the mix in much the way that like an outside job would be.
I think I, you know, like, I don't think homeschooling is uniquely problematic for a mother who also writes or paints or is a musician or whatever, but it's just another one of those pieces of your life that you have to balance. And I guess poetry is good because you can do it in really small increments. You know, most poems are pretty small and you can feel like you've gotten something done.
If you've written a line or get, you know, you put a semi-colon in and you took it out again. And you're like, Oh yeah, progress. Yeah. Yeah. Right. So I, you know, I mean, it's like, you can, you can keep your, your connection going, but certainly as my kids have gotten older and more and more independent, the pendulum has swung back toward being able to write more. And I, I really, I mean, I've started writing fiction a lot more particularly because prose is just bigger and it does take more time to do. And so I have been doing more of that and, and just things like book reviewing and other sort of like literary critical things. Stuff I went to graduate school to do, and haven't done in years and it's really exciting to rediscover it and you know, that I like it, but definitely things have shifted with the seasons.
One of the things I love about what you just said to me, and I don't even know if you're aware that you said it, maybe you are, but you were talking about being in fourth grade in math class and filling your math composition book with your horse stories. And, and then you made the comment. I've always been a writer. And I love that so much that you are acknowledging that your fourth grade self was just as much a writer as your adult published self.
Yes. Right? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's just always been part of my particular makeup. I think that's so important, like for, for kids, especially to hear and to realize that, you know, this, this dabbling you did as a 10 year old, 11 year old, you know, you're a writer.
Right, right. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. I mean, I think for, and especially for art forms, like, you know, like writing and writing is very much an art form in the same way that music or ballet or painting or whatever.
And I think people who end up doing an art form seriously are people who are just driven to do it. And it's, and it's just what they do sometimes without even thinking, without even making a conscious decision, you know, like I'm in math class. How did I, how did I end up in the middle of this horse story? I don't even know. I just started doing it.
And I mean, I have friends who are visual artists whom I knew in elementary school and they're drawing was the same way. I mean, I had a friend who to this day is an artist and designer and her notebooks were just full of drawings. And, you know, she and I were probably making about the same grades. Her notebooks were just like illuminated with these illustrations all around them. And it was just like how she thought. And, you know, I guess what I would say to a child is, you know, if you have this compulsion, that's probably a good thing. And it's probably telling you something about yourself.
Like maybe you should also do your math homework. I'm not proud of not having done my math homework, but it's not like the thing that you do just kind of compulsively because somehow it makes you feel more alive. It's not like that's less than, it's not like that's less important than your schoolwork. It's not like that's something you should be ashamed of or feel like you're misbehaving because you're doing it.
I mean, that's actually probably a key to something that's going to be really important to you in your life and something to listen to, and, you know, not encourage parents the same way. I, you know, and especially in homeschooling where, you know, your, your like default setting is to want to turn everything into a lesson.
So like your kid is writing a story and what you want to do is correct the grammar and the spelling. And rather than saying, wow, you wrote this story. That's amazing. You should keep writing stories. Don't be afraid. You know, that sometimes we just have to trust them and their compulsion to do these things and not try to like, take over their process. I love it.
Well, Other than the brevity. Yeah. Right. What led you to pursue writing poetry? Was there something about poetry that just spoke to you?
Yeah. I mean, I started writing poetry in the ninth grade and I really hadn't before. Although, I mean, my parents had always read us rhymes.
I was very blessed to have a family where my parents did a lot of reading aloud and they did read us poems as well as stories. And so I'd always had homes in my ear and we always read poems in school. We had to copy poems and illustrate them to hang on the wall for Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas. And, you know, all of those kinds of traditional elementary school things.
But in ninth grade I had an English teacher who actually was an, is still a poet. We're actually still friends. We kind of rediscovered each other. I went looking for just a couple of years ago and found her on the net. And she is still a poet.
She has a new book out too, but she was the first person I had ever met, who, I mean, aside from being a really just energetic, fantastic teacher, meeting her and hearing her talk about poets that she knew and had studied with. She had also, she had gone to Vanderbilt where I also went to college and had studied with the Southern agrarian poet, Allen Tate, who she, he actually died the year that I was in ninth grade and she used to go visit him in the nursing home. And this was the first intimation that I had that poetry was something that living people actually did. Like it was a thing that people did. Yeah. Right. It didn't just like grow on the pages of your literature textbook, you know, like people actually did this.
And I mean, I read E.E. Cummings for the first time that year. And his poems were so different with all the, you know, lowercase letters and the funky syntax and all of the things that he did. I mean, it was just so startling and strange and different from anything that I had ever encountered.
And I, I think I just wanted to do that. So the first poems I wrote were like E.E. Cummings, imitation poems, but that was when I started writing poems and really shifted from writing stories to writing poems. And, and I, again, I was extremely blessed in my education, even though, even through high school, I was not a very good student.
I scraped through a lot of classes, but I loved English. And I had very good English teachers who made us read a lot of poetry. And, you know, we read things. I mean, in 10th grade we read Beowulf and Chaucer and Paradise Lost and, you know, and I just can remember, I can't remember like exact conversations or what lines or phrases or anything took the top of my head off, but I can remember sitting in my seat in the back of the class where I sat, because I didn't like to be called on and just thinking, this is amazing. Like suddenly I was alive and which was not a feeling I usually had at school. And, and that just carried. That hasn't stopped.
I love that this is some school I can get behind none of that math stuff,
Right. Well, I did have to take math. I just scraped through that, but I was very lucky in my English teachers.
Well, do you believe that everyone can be a poet? Is this something that we could do with our kids in our homeschool?
Well, I mean, no and yes. I was thinking about, about this question and I mean, I wonder if we asked this about other art forms, you know, do we say, can everybody be a concert pianist? Can everybody be a ballet dancer? Can everybody be a painter? And I mean, the answer is sort of like no and yes.
I mean, everybody who takes piano lessons, isn't going to be a concert pianist. And everybody who takes ballet lessons, is it going to be a dancer and everybody who takes art lessons, isn't going to be a painter or a sculptor, but that's not necessarily why we do those things. Part of the reason why we have our kids take piano or ballet or art is that it is part of their discernment about, you know, education is about learning to be, you know, learning, to discern who you are and what your calling is in life. And art is part of that. And you don't know whether you're going to be good at something, unless you try to do it. So that's one, you know, I mean, like when we sign our kids up for these lessons or we try to have them do one of these art forms, you know, that's part of what we're thinking, isn't it? I think, you know, that we're thinking, well, who knows? You might discover something that's, you're really good at that you really love, and you won't discover it if we don't do it.
I think we probably also introduce these things to our kids because learning at least the rudiments of how to do something is how we can understand that thing from the inside. Like, for example, I am totally not a dancer. I was like the world's clumsiest child. I am not. I don't really dance as an adult, but at my girl's school from first grade through sixth grade, every week, one of our PE sessions was ballet. And we actually, I mean, we had real dancers teach these ballet classes and it was something that I knew pretty early on that I wasn't very good at.
I knew it wasn't going to be a ballet dancer, but it was fun first of all, whereas PE was not very fun, kind of like math. I wasn't very good at it.
You're a woman after my own heart.
I know like, what is key it's that hour where you get hit in the face with a ball that's PE. Or you fall down or something, but ballet was fun. And, you know, because it had music involved and the movements for graceful and everything. And I think, I, you know, I was just reflecting on the value of this, that I was not going to be a dancer. It was fairly evident to me.
I didn't love it enough, first of all, and I wasn't that good, but learning the rudimentary of ballet over the course of six years and, you know, the basic, the five positions and things that you do with your arms and the terminology for things. And occasionally we would watch, you know, like we'd watch clips from the Nutcracker. We even see these things.
And I'm really grateful to have had that experience because even though I'm not a dancer and it was pretty clear from the beginning that that was not going to be my calling. I have the kind of appreciation for what dancers can do, because I understand some of what they do. You know, like what I did one hour a week, you know, a real dancer is doing four to six hours a day at the barre. And, you know, you start to have some appreciation for how hard it is and the discipline that goes into it and how it works so that when you watch it, your appreciation of it is, is enhanced by that.
And I think the same thing is true of poetry. It's an art form, like dance and piano and visual art, but it's something that everybody can try. And I think it's good to try to try on poetic forms, to, you know, to try to write some poetry. And the point is not like you're just going to produce this great poetry right off the bat. But I think that helps you understand what goes into poetry. And I think doing it makes you a better reader and appreciator, and it certainly doesn't hurt your writing. I mean, it's a form of writing that you can practice and it's going to benefit any kind of writing that you do. So, you know, I mean, relatively few people are probably gonna love doing it so much that they can't stop doing it, which is kind of the definition I think, of, of a poet is just somebody who can't not do it, who works to master the form to the extent that their natural gifts allow them to do, but everybody can try it and everybody will benefit from trying it. So that's my long answer to that.
No, I love it.
I mean, that's, that's a hard question and you want to go, yes, everybody has an inner poet. And I mean, I think everybody does poetry and their soul too, you know? I mean, that's why poetry speaks to us.
Well, I loved your definition of a poet is a person who can't help themselves.
Yeah. Right.
Why else would you do this? Like you could be vacuuming. Why are you doing this? I also love the idea that, you know, we're going by practicing this. First of all, you know, we never know. We never know if we like fishing until we go fishing. We never know, you know, so you never know, at least give it a try, but then also, even if you're never going to be a poet, you are going to strengthen those other, those other writing skills all the way around. You're going to dive off into language and really appreciate words in a new way.
Right. Absolutely.
Yeah. Yeah. So if I'm a little bit convicted by what we've just talked about, Sally, and I'm thinking, not having my kids write some poems, how do I get started with that in my homeschool? Especially if I feel inadequate The task?
Well, I think the first step really is just to read a lot of poems. And, and when I say read poems, I mean like nursery rhymes with your little kids. I mean, I was thinking about this too. I mean, really, I think I've been teaching poetry to my kids since they were born.
And the earliest form of it for them is, you know, like bouncing them on my foot, going, “Ride a cock horse to Banbury cross to see a fine lady upon a white horse.” And I'm bouncing them in time with the rhythm of those lines. And they're, so they're feeling the meter, which is the rhythm of the poem. And they're hearing the rhymes and they're getting that.
It's like getting under their skin from the very beginning. People are intimidated by poetry because they think they have to do a lot to make it happen. And the truth is you don't, you don't have to do any more to make poetry happen in your home. Then you do to make stories happen in your home.
You don't have to worry about it any more than that. I mean, there are some hard poems in the world, but you're probably not going to be reading them to your five and six year olds any more than you're going to be reading, you know, James Joyce's Ulysses aloud to them. I mean, you know, there are like difficult stories out there too, but we were fairly aware that there are other chapter books that we can read besides like Ulysses, right. We're not intimidated by the idea. And I think we kind of have to get our minds in that place where we say, yeah, there are some hard poems out there that I can't understand. And there are hard poems out there that I don't understand.
So, you're not alone. The world is full of poems that are just fun. And just making them a part of your family culture in the same way that you make any other read aloud, a part of your family culture is I, you know, I think the first step and things that I read with my kids from really early ages. Nursery rhymes, Mother Goose, AA, Milne. When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six. I mean, we still speak in lines from those poems, Robert Louis Stevenson and a child's garden of verses. And another real favorite of mine is the American poet, Richard Wilbur, who was kind of an elder statesman in American poetry until he died several years ago.
But he, I think these are collected now in a single book, but he has books of poems based on a game that his family used to play. He and his wife had four children and they used to play this game at the dinner table where one person would think of a word. And then everybody else had to think of the opposite of that word.
And whoever like had the best or most creative opposite for that word won. And so Wilbur wrote several books of little poems. I mean, I'll just like read you one here's one, that's just two lines. “What is the opposite of baby? The answer is a grownup maybe.” And he illustrated them with these funny little line drawings, you know, “The opposite of doctor. Well, that's not so very hard to tell a doctor's nice. And when you're ill, he makes you better with a pill. Then what's his opposite. Don't be thick. It's anyone who makes you sick.” You know?
So I, you know, I raised my kids on these because they're so funny. Our favorite one is, “What is the opposite of string? It's Gnirts which doesn't mean a thing.” So it’s string backwards. Yeah. So
my kids would love those.
Yeah, mine did. So, you know, I mean, we just read poetry and I actually, I really have never made my kids write poetry. I don't, I don't know if any of the, I have, I have one son who's a fiction and creative non-fiction writer and I didn't make him write fiction.
He just started when he was about 15 writing 500 words a day, which I didn't know until like last year that he had done this. But so I, you know, I guess, because I'm kind of self-conscious, I mean, they are always, they've all always been like, no, that's your thing, mom. Sorry. You know, so I haven't wanted to be too overbearing about it, but just giving them poems. And you can say, I mean, like if you want to be more proactive than I have been about it, I mean, you can say, I, you know, I certainly had them copy poems for their, you know, copy work all the time. So they were, you know, internalizing a lot and you can have people write imitations of poems that they like, you like this poem, you know, see if you can write a poem that sounds like it. And they might, I mean, a little kid is probably just going to copy the poem and that's fine. That's kind of age appropriate.
But I mean, imitation is a great tool. You know, you think about all the art students who go to the galleries and they sit in front of the old masters paintings and copied them.
And that's how they learn techniques. So, you know, you can do that with poetry too. You know, you can say something like let's notice, and I wouldn't do this with really little kids. Like I would really just read and enjoy it. It's really little kids, but like say you have kids in upper elementary school and you're reading a poem that I don't know.
I'm trying to think of a good example. You know, a poem that has a particular rhyme scheme. I mean, I tend to really love rhymed and metered poems. Cause they're fun to read out loud and they're easy to imitate. And you could say something like write a poem that has this rhyme scheme, you know, write a poem that uses these five words.
You know, things like that are really good starter assignments. If you want to have somebody, you know, try writing a poem. I mean, Charlotte Mason with her sort of secondary level students used poetry as a form of narration to, I mean, she might ask for, you know, a poem as a narration of something and maybe she'd give some guidelines. Like it has to have an AB AB rhyme scheme, or it has to be eight lines or, you know, she gives some parameters which really helps. I mean, I find that that's a lot better than going, you know, write a poem about winter
and just do whatever you want.
Right. Right. That's like, you know, go for a walk where there aren't any street signs. You'll have no idea where you are, but it'll be really fun. You know, I, I usually, I mean, for myself, this is true, you know, poems don't really start with ideas. They start with language. So giving somebody some rules having to do with the language that they use, like you have to have, I mean, this is why haiku and things like that are so much fun. Cause it's counted syllables. And so to say to somebody, you know, write three lines and one of them is going to have five syllables and one of them is going to have seven syllables and the next one's going to have five syllables. They can do that.
And I mean, it's funny how, when you're concentrating on a rules like that, it's like doing Sudoku or something. You're trying to work out a puzzle basically, but it's like you trick your subconscious mind into saying things that you couldn't have made up if you were trying to, I mean, I've seen this happen time.
And again, I’ve given these kind of crazy assignments where they have to write five lines and every line has to have eight syllables. And the second and the fifth lines have to rhyme with each other, you know, things like that. And so they're just going eight syllables, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, you know, they're, they're, you know, writing and counting syllables and stuff comes out that surprises them.
So you just make up your own poetic forms.
Sometimes. I mean, you can, and, and you know, and poets have often done this. If you're thinking about resources for moms, I mean to a great extent, you don't really need anything other than books of poetry. And I can, you know, I can sort of list anthologies that I think are good to have and authors that I think are good, but you know, for the mom who really wants to understand poetry, writing more and maybe to engage with it a little bit more with high school students, things like there's a little collection of essays on poetry writing by a poet named Richard Hugo who taught at the university of Montana and died in 1980. So he's been gone for a pretty long time, but this book is called The Triggering Town and it's just it's lectures that he gave to his classes. And there's one where he's talking about having, you know, himself as a student of a poet named Theodore Rettke, who's very, was very celebrated. It was kind of his Forerunner and teacher who would give them exams that were just like, you have one hour to write a poem. And then he would get these crazy rules, like, you know, so many lines in the stands of so many syllables in every line, you know, lines three and five have to rhyme with each other and you have to use the word stone somewhere in it, you know? So there would just be these crazy rules. And in an hour they would have to come up with a poem. And I mean, that's probably like if you want your high school student to have a nervous breakdown,
that sounds like a great idea can adapt like that. You know, you can give them more than an hour. You can make it less hard,
And, You know, as you were talking about this, I'm, I'm sitting here thinking, and if I were to look, I have one child who might rise to that occasion, you know, the other two would probably just completely melt down in they’re various ways.
But If I pulled out a whiteboard and a marker in Morning time and said, Hey, let's do this. And it was all of us together. I think they would love it. I think they would have fun with it.
Absolutely. And I've done this with groups of kids, school kids where, you know, I've had a whole class and we've had, yeah, we've had the white board and I've had things like, you know, 50 index cards, each one with a word on it and we've randomly picked five words and we have to use them for example. And maybe we'd said, you know, and I mean, sometimes that's the only rule, but you know, like by line three, we'll realize we have a rhyme scheme going. And so I'm always going, look, this is happening. So what do we want to say next? This is telling us where we can go in the next line and yes. With a group of kids where no one person is on the hook to produce something wonderful. Yes. That is absolutely so much fun and they really do like that. And you, and you see the process happening on the whiteboard. And I mean, yeah, that would really be the ideal situation, as far as I'm concerned, you know, that otherwise a kid who's going to write poems is going to write poems and I'm not sure, you know, like I don't want to stress out a kid who really doesn't, you know, I don't want to give somebody a PE experience about poetry, you know, like here's where you get hit in the face with a ball kid.
There's so much in the modeling too, you know, it's their ideas aren't coming. It's okay to throw your own in there.
Absolutely. Yeah. And yeah. And to give them the seed of an idea somehow, which is what these prompts are good for, you know, like here's five words that you're not going to have to make up, what are we going to do with them?
Right. Okay. So in the Thomas household, there was never like, okay, it's time for this year's poetry unit.
We're going to sit down and we're going to first learn how to write a haiku. And then we're going to learn how to write an Italian sonnet, and then we're going to learn, you know, so that didn't happen. But it really, really enjoying the poetry.
Yeah. Yeah. Basically that's always been my, you know, my primary aim and we have always done it from the time they were young and we read it aloud.
Now they get, well, it varies depending on the term, but we've been through high school. I mean, we've been reading our way through the English poetic tradition. And so usually they have one to two poems a week to read. I do have them narrate them. I usually give them background, you know, some background context to help them understand what's going on.
We really don't do a whole lot of analysis. Although, one thing that I do do with my high schoolers, this last set, I did this junior year. There is a book which is available in a million like editions, and it's really easy to find used. It's really easy to find cheap Laurence Porrines Sound and Sense which dates from the 1960s,
Laurence Porinne was a professor at SMU in Dallas, you know, sort of in the mid 20th century era and sounded sense. I, it was like this life changing book for me as a high school senior it's it is about poetry to that handbook about poetry. It introduces poetic forms. It introduces poetic terminology. So that you're talking about, you know, things like imagery and the relationship. I mean, it's called Sound and Sense. So one of his great, you know, big part of his thesis is about the way that you can't really separate the sound that a poem makes from the sense that it's trying to get across and, and Porrine himself.
I don't really know if he was a poet, but he's, I mean, it's, the writing is really kind of marvelous. He's kind of curmudgeonly. There's a whole section on like good poetry and bad, which I learned really fast when I was at high school teacher, not a, not a hit because everybody loves the poems he thought were bad and trying to explain to them, it's not worth it. Really. “Sorry, you have no taste” is how to make people hate poetry. I usually don't push that, although it's kind of fun. I thought it was fine in high school. Cause I was just totally on board for this curmudgeon who did have ideas about excellence.
So, but I think probably everybody else in my class hated that, but it's a good handbook to have high school students work through it's full, every edition, the additions are slightly different, but every edition is full of good poems. So that they're reading a huge amount of poetry. It's one of the few times that I've ever assigned study questions rather than like straight narrations or discussion because the study questions are really designed to help them read the poems well, and that's been a really, you know, it's kind of like at some point you do kind of have to kick the conversation up a notch from just, this is about a guy and he's thinking about death, you know, you kind of want to get a little farther than that, but yeah, I, I leave it so pretty late in the game though.
Yeah. That was my question. Definitely at the high school level, even a little into high school.
Right, right. Yeah.
Well, before we go share with me, if you don't mind Sally, a couple, like your favorite anthologies, you mentioned you that you would talk about those and then you've already given us some names of poets for young kids. But if you have any other favorites that you think moms should check out.
Oh yeah, yeah. Well, okay. So for anthologies, which we'll also kind of answer some of those favorites questions, every house, I think in my vaunted opinion that has young children should have a good mother goose, a beautiful addition of a child's garden of verses both of those AA Milne books of poetry. When we were very young. Now we are six. I mean, they're just so delightful to read aloud. And I mean, you can, somebody's whole early childhood can consist of those books and you won't get to the end of them. Richard Wilbur's Opposites, which I think now are in a single volume and you know, are still available. I also have an anthology that I really like.
That's more sort of like global poetry. Like it includes translations from the Yoruba people of Africa and Egyptian poems poems in that are translations from native American languages. And so it's a very, you know, Japanese, it's a real mix and it's also full of beautiful art. This is a book called Talking to the Sun and the editors are Kenneth Koch, K O C H and Kate Pharrel.
And I don't know if it's still in print that I have seen it in used additions, but that's a gorgeous one. If you can find it, it's a lot of fun. It does have a lot of traditional English poetry in it too, like Shakespeare and William Blake. And just, it's just a huge miscellany, but it's, it's a lot of fun and it would carry you from fairly early childhood through elementary school,
maybe even beyond. And it's great for art study too, because it's just got all this wonderful art in it. I'm trying to think of other favorites in terms of anthologies. There's another anthology of world poetry edited by Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney called The Rattle Bag, which is very good. Not all the poems are necessarily suitable for children, but it's a great, you know, it comes in a paperback edition and again, it's, it's just a really great kind of world poetry anthology with a lot of translations from like the Hungarian and other Eastern European languages as well as other global cultures. So that's another really good one to have.
In addition to the kind of classic children's authors like Robert Louis Stevenson and AA milne, and a particular favorite of ours is Charles Causley, C A U S L E Y. He was a poet from Cornwall. He died about the time. My youngest daughter was born 2003, 2004, and wrote poems for adults as well as children. But he wrote just really wonderful children's poems. That could be funny. They could be haunting. I mean, just a whole range. And my favorite book of his is called Early in the Morning.
So if you can find, and it's, you probably would have to find it used, but it is out there. And it was just, it was a real favorite of you know, of my kids. And there was another book of comic poetry, which was an anthology, which again, much quoted in my family, even to this day, “Wallace trips,
Marguerite go wash your feet. And the title poem is “Marguerite, go wash your feet, the board of health to across the street.” So that's the tone there. This is, you know, these are not poems that are going to like make you think noble thoughts, but there are a lot of fun and easy to memorize. I, you know,
“When I sat next to the Duchess at Tea it was just as I feared it would be. Her rumblings, abdominal where something phenomenal and everyone thought it was me.” You know, I have a hard time memorizing, like really serious poems, but you know, I'll go to my grave saying that one, cause I can't get it out of my head.
and these are great. This is how you learn, like Rhyme, meter, the way poems move the way poems look, comic poems are terrific for this. So, you know, definitely don't be afraid to just read funny stuff and enjoy it. So, I mean, those are all just real favorites of mine. And you know, Charles Causley is kind of like the, the outlier probably that people maybe haven't heard of. But I mean, he is my he's one of my favorite poets period, but you know, definitely for kids. He's a great favorite.
I love it. So many. Thank you so much because that's so many outside of the norm that I've not heard of before. And so I love it. So, so many good suggestions there. And I did look while you were making suggestions and talking to the sun is not in print, but there are a number of copies available.
Great. And if, you know, if they're like not $200,
Sound and Sense is a little trickier. Because it’s a textbook.
Yeah. Right, right. So then you have, well, yeah, like the eighth edition there, it's easy to find copies of the eighth edition, which is old and it's usually really cheap.
Yeah. Yeah. I, I was able to find, you know, a few of those, so yeah.
Don't feel like you have to go with the newest edition, the textbook, Cause that's $150 run away, but go looking for the older one sometimes old is good.
Yeah. Right, right. I mean he was in the 1960s anyway, so you don't need the new one. So yeah.
Love it. Love it. So wow. So many good resources here and so many good ideas for how to start dabbling. And I think that's what you definitely do. Read, read, read poetry, but dabble in some of the writing of it with your kids and see if it takes off for anybody.
Right. Right. Exactly. Exactly.
So I thank you so much for coming on and talking to us about it today.
Oh, well thanks Pam. It was great to be here.
Well, where can everybody find you and maybe check out some of your books online. I have an author website and that address is sally-thomas.com.
Awesome. And there you have it.
Now, if you would like links to any of the resources, so many resources, wonderful poetry, ones that Sally shared with us today, you can find them on the show notes for this episode. That's at Pam barnhill.com/YMB93. Also there, you can find out how to leave a rating or review for the your morning basket podcast in your favorite podcast player, the ratings and reviews that you leave really help us to get the word out about the podcast to new listeners. And so we love it when you take the time to do that. And we thank you so very much for doing it. Now I will be back again in a couple of weeks with another great morning time interview and until then keep seeking truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Teaching Poetry

Teaching poetry to our children doesn’t have to be complicated. The most important thing to do is expose your kids to lots of poetry. So, get some great collections of poetry and read poetry to your kids.

One thing to keep in mind when we are teaching poetry is that our goal is not to make every child a poet. We expose our children to different art forms like dance, or music, or poetry, we are because it allows them the opportunity to discover if it is something they love.

We also expose our children to these things as a way of allowing them to appreciate what goes into that art form. Having taken the time to experience what goes into creating poetry for themselves, our children will be better writers, readers and will grow in appreciation for what they read.

Find what you want to hear:

  • [2:38] meet Sally Thomas
  • [14:45] how Sally began writing
  • [19:50] encouraging our children’s natural interests
  • [23:20] when Sally started writing poetry
  • [26:58] Can everyone be a poet?
  • [33:33] writing poetry in your homeschool
  • [38:30] creative poetry writing assignments
  • [50:22] Sally’s favorite resources for teaching poetry

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  • You've made my school year!
    by Lizzie O' from United States

    Pam, I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6 & 8 year old children and you responded with a warm response. I then began to listen to every podcast you have (all 3!) and I have been so very inspired and encouraged in so many ways that it would take up too much time here to explain it all. This Morning Basket podcast is really a light for me and my children as not only are they the recipients of our mornings of gathering but so am I. I have learned so much from your guests (and you!) and have been able to take tips/ideas to add to what my own mornings look like. We truly have experienced Truth, Goodness and Beauty. God certainly has chosen you for this type of work and serving to others. Thank you for what you do!

  • Thanks Pam!
    by BraveMomma from United States

    So many great ideas every single week! Thanks!

  • Truth, goodness, and beauty
    by I'm Sonny from United States

    Need I say more? I am deeply grateful for this profound and practical resource as we seek to surround our children in the truth, in goodness, and in things beautiful. I leave feeling encouraged, refreshed, determined and equipped.

  • Very encouraging
    by .....hk..... from United States

    So helpful with recommendations for new things to do in morning time.

  • A wonderful podcast full of useful tips!
    by Klarnold79 from United States

    I have listened to almost every episode over the last few months on my morning runs and they have made me look forward to running! I have learned so much and have been inspired to add truth, goodness and beauty to our homeschool days. Thank you so much!!

  • Wow! Talk about a solid series!
    by KastenbauerFamily from United States

    Each episode is fabulous alone, and when you've been listening for a while, they all continue to be full of new information!

  • Hope for the weary
    by MomToTheMasses from United States

    I enjoy the variety of topics covered as well as Pam's cheerful personality. Thank you for being a cup of cold water for so many homeschool mamas.

  • Great guests and host
    by My Life as a Rinnagade from United States

    I love the people Pam has on and all the great morning time tips! Thanks for a wonderful show :).

  • Mamma of Five
    by Mamma of Five from United States

    The ideas, information and encouragment that Pam shares through the different guests and talking about the purpose and practice of Your Morning Basket has been a huge blessing to our family. Helped me to practically see how to bring truth, beauty, and goodness to our day.

  • Great Homeschool Resource
    by KS Becky R from United States

    I have just started listening and am gaining so much knowledge and practical advice. I can't wait to keep listening to more.

  • Really great!
    by BeeGerW from United States

    I love hearing all these ideas!

  • californiafamily
    by californiafamily from United States

    I absolutely love Your Morning Basket podcasts. Pam interviews excellent people & so far, I've incorporated information from each podcast & have purchased many items that the interviewee's suggest. I think all families could benefit from this even if they don't homeschool! Thank you so much!

  • Love Pam's podcasts
    by Flourishing Mama from United States

    There are many homeschool related podcasts that I enjoy, both for their content and the host. But I must say that Pam Barnhill's podcasts are top-notch for the following reasons: 1) the content is both relevant AND in-depth, 2) she NEVER interrupts the guest speakers with incessant (annoying) "uh huhs," "ummms," and such, 3) she provides multiple lists and links to supplemental materials that are really useful and interesting, and 4) she shares forms she's created even though she could make you pay for them. She has a gift for tapping in to the issues homeschool moms are REALLY dealing with. Thanks Pam. Keep up the good work!

  • First Things First
    by Lukenoah from United States

    Every episode inspires me to start my day bringing my children the true the good and the beautiful through our family time.

  • So helpful!
    by jofcrich from Australia

    Every time I see that I have a new podcast from Pam Barnhill I know it's going to be good. Every one I have listened to (which is all of them!) have helped, inspired and encouraged me in some way or another. Pam is so good at summarising what her interviewee has just spoken about; a great knack which helps me distill the main ideas from all that good conversation. I really like that she always has links to whatever is discussed so that I can go back to it in the future and find what I need.

  • Great resource
    by Ejs0928 from United States

    Such a help for a new homeschooler. Highly recommend that you check it out if you'd like to learn more about starting your day with morning time.

  • Amazing!
    by CDefnall from United States

    This podcast is filled with great information to help you take full advantage of morning time or all together time in your homeschool. It also has great tips for extending your child education whether they are in public or private school as well. We all want to aid our kids in thier success and no matter if you are a homeschool parent or a public/private school teacher this podcast will enlighten you and provide valuable information you to to better help your students.

  • Inspiring and enlightening
    by spycej from United States

    One of my favorite podcasts and I love and subscribe to all of Pam's podcasts. Thank you for the fabulous interviews.

  • Must-Listen for Homeschooling Moms
    by DaffodilSocks from United States

    This podcast has revolutionized how I homeschool my young children. A must-listen.

  • One of my favorites
    by FaithAZ from United States

    Love Pam and all of her podcasts - can't wait for new episodes!

  • Great Ideas
    by Hiphooray from United States

    Just found this podcast and have been listening to them over the summer break. Pam is a great host and has fun guests and together they bring a lot of inspiration to the concept of morning time in homeschool. Thanks for the great resource!!

  • TaraVos
    by TaraVos from United States

    I would not be exaggerating if I said that I have learned so much from this practical, encouraging podcast that has changed our homeschool. Thank you Pam!

  • Lots of useful information
    by Kristizy from United States

    This podcast does a great job finding guests who give a ton of practical help to make morning time enjoyable and educational for everyone. I always feel reenergized after listening to any of Pam Barnhill's podcasts.

  • <3!!!
    by Momo35556 from United States

    I love this podcast! So helpful and encouraging.

  • Lovely & Inspiring
    by kashley75 from United States

    Thank you so much for this podcast!

  • Such a wealth of information!
    by Jeaine6 from United States

    There is so much wonderful information to be found in these podcasts. I can go about my daily chores and fill my homeschool mom cup simultaneously! They allow me to look at areas of our hs that need improvement or just need new life and feel encouraged while I'm listening. Thank you!!

  • Encouraging & inspiring
    by God's Ranch Hand from United States

    So thankful for this podcast! I look forward to listening to each episode when it comes out.

  • Homeschool Professional Development!
    by Jo.W.17 from Canada

    As a new-ish homeschooling mama, I've found this podcast super encouraging and helpful. I would highly recommend it!

  • So Helpful!
    by KGMom2Four from United States

    I love the practical application that comes from this podcast! Thanks!

  • A Lovely Show!
    by Webseitler from United States

    This podcast has become my most favorite podcast on the subject of homeschooling. The topics discussed often go right to the heart of why I'm doing what I'm doing in our home--and God has really used the great advice shared in this show to help me be a more confident (and calmer!) teacher. Thank you, Pam, for creating such a great program! Already looking forward to next season.

  • Awesome homeschooling resource!
    by Liddleladie81 from United States

    This podcast has absolutely changed my perspective on homeschooling, in a great way! All of the guests have been wonderful and I leave each episode feeling both sad that it is already over, and encouraged and excited to figure out how I can use what I’ve learned! It has a great flow to it, very light but meaningful, informative, encouraging….I could go on and on! Absolutely LOVE this podcast! Thanks to all involved!

  • Great hosts!
    by Homeschool_chat from United States

    I always look forward to this podcast!

  • Practical, helpful & concise tips
    by sproutnchic from United States

    This podcast continues to help. I appreciate the Pam Barnhill's professional, organized, yet warm interviewing style of some well-picked guests.

  • So refreshing and helpful
    by a. borealis from United States

    I've really appreciated the depth and breadth of Pam's look into Morning Time and also the practical ideas and tools to make it work. It is so inspiring! It helps me think through my own Circle Time, realizing what an opporunity I have. There are so many great ideas for additions and tweaking my approach. I am loving it.

  • Awesome!
    by Apples20091 from United States

    This podcast has been so helpful and packed full of practical ideas to use with my children!! Some of the episodes I have listened to more than once!!

  • Encouraging and Motivating!
    by Cat11223 from United States

    Pam makes this morning time concept so attainable! She gives great ideas but simple ways to begin. These tips and recommendations reach far beyond just morning time and are benefiting our entire homeschool and family life!

  • So many ideas!
    by Speterson781 from United States

    This podcast is full of amazing ideas to grab my kids attention first thing in the morning. I love listening to Pam and her guests. Pam asks such great questions of her guests!

  • A Favorite for Homeschool Encouragement!
    by JamesDWitmer from United States

    I have been so encouraged by Pam's podcasts on Morning Time. She walks you through many of the wonderful activities that you can choose to include in your homeschooling, and also the details about how to do it! It has truly been a blessing. Thanks Pam!

  • Perfect for the Homeschool Mom
    by JoshJamie from United States

    I just stumbled upon the "Your Morning Basket" podcast this weekend. I have already listened to 2 episodes, and they are wonderful - perfect for the homeschool mom. I am going to share this on my Periscope channel tomorrow. So great!! Jamie @OurLittleSchoolhouse.

  • SongsofJubilee
    by SongsofJubilee from United States

    I love the idea of a morning basket, and this podcast has helped me learn a lot about the different ways it can look! I love all the different subjects she discusses within it!

  • Love it!
    by Ekrasovec7 from United States

    This podcast has been such a blessing to me! Informational and insightful, it opens a window into how other families incorporate morning time into their day, as well as what they fill it with. This has completely changed the rhythm and content of our days for the better. Our whole family has fallen in love with morning time! Thank you!!

  • So encouraging!
    by A Merry Heart from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast! It has been so encouraging as I begin to implement Morning Time with my 5 girls. I have listened to them all & can't wait for more!

  • This podcast has changed our homeschool
    by Momof4athome from United States

    Pam has relieved some of the pressure to "get it all in". We now begin our day with the good true and beautiful in an almost effortless way and are all enjoying our time together before the "serious" subjects! Yay for the morning basket! Her guests are all lovely people you would want to have over for tea. I love this podcast.

  • Refreshing
    by Bless-Us-3 from Canada

    I am loving this podcast. I just stumbled across it after hearing the recommendation over at Read Aloud Revival. I have been wanting to start 'Morning Time' for a year now so this is giving me direction and so many wonderful and helpful tips and suggestions. I love Pam's enthusiasm and personality.

  • So helpful and inspiring!
    by KSR1 from United States

    I was lucky enough to find YMB and Pam’s other podcast, Homeschool Snapshots, when I started my first year of homeschool this year. These 2 podcasts have been SO helpful to me with getting ideas for morning time and the rest of our homeschool day. I am very grateful for the excellent work Pam has done on both of these podcasts, and I hope they continue for many more years!

  • Inspiring
    by Jaranda98 from United States

    This podcast was inspiring and encouraging. It was a good blend of practical and theoretical and exactly what this tired homeschool mom needed to hear today to rejuvenate.

  • An inspiring and encouraging podcast
    by Kellibird1111 from United States

    Very well done! I really enjoyed listening! Very practical and informative.

  • Honey for the Homeschooling Heart
    by SuperNOVAmom from United States

    Pam lays out a feast of homeschooling topics that are relevant, helpful, and validating. The show is well organized and her interviews are clearly well thought out. In addition, Ms. Barnhill's relaxed and warm personality puts one at ease. It's like going to your favorite homeschool conference without leaving home!

  • I love this podcast, great content!
    by Sara V from United States

    These podcasts helped transform our homeschooling!

  • Great parenting resource
    by sullivanjessicak from United States

    I absolutely love this podcast. The show is well organized with great guests and helpful information.

  • Thank you!
    by Nasiatel from United States

    I'm so happy that I found your podcast, it has truly blessed our homeschool life!

  • Wonderful help in my homeschool
    by BT and Jessica from United States

    This is a great resource for all homeschoolers (and I would say any educator). I am challenged to make sure I am giving my children truth, beauty and virtue through the morning ritual of our morning time. I’ve learned of new books to share with my children, how to incorporate fine arts, good habits for our day… I could go on and on. Pam asks great questions and has wonderful guests.

  • Top Notch
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Excellent inspiration and tips for homeschoolers! I have learned so much from this podcast.

  • Great Morning Time tips!
    by redhedcatie from United States

    I have gotten SO many practical tips from this podcast! A must listen for homeschoolers!

  • So Inspiring!
    by Frau Linds from United States

    Another home-run podcast! Pam has a knack for inspiring great things in your homeschool! And the wonderful thing is she doesn't leave you with the "lofty ideal," but offers practical tips, aids, etc. all while encouraging you the whole way. Each interview is professionally done and such a joy to listen to! Thanks, Pam, for putting your heart into this! 🙂

  • Wonderful!
    by Kellybireta from United States

    Like having a cup of coffee with a friend. So helpful and informative.

  • Excellent practical advise!
    by Foxycook from United States

    Really enjoying this so far!

  • Very encouraging!
    by WMGardener from United States

    This was been a great podcast about Morning Time! How encouraging and informative to hear from other homeschool moms who are in the midst of it all!

  • A great resource!
    by gejake from United States

    Very inspiring and informative as I begin my homeschooling journey

  • Love This Podcast
    by Earthmuffins from United States

    I have finally had opportunity to listen to this podcast and regret not doing it sooner!!! Very informative and encouraging.

  • Full of Goodness, Truth and Beauty
    by CJMance from United States

    This is such an inspiration to get the beautiful ritual of morning time established. Thank you Pam!

  • Great Podcast!
    by Greggtrisha from United States

    I'm so excited about this podcast! My kids range from ages 4 - 11, and I've been needing to reduce my workload a bit. I'm using the fantastic things I'm learning here to combine all my kids together for read-alouds, Bible time, memorization, and some other fun things. Thanks so much, Pam! I love your other podcast as well!

  • Treasure
    by TasmanianBec from Australia

    I am so glad I found this podcast. Morning Basket / Circle Time / Morning Time - lots of interviews with families who make this part of their day a treasure for years to come. Just getting started homeschooling, and this is going to help shape our days. Thanks Pam.

  • Jeannie in Ohio
    by Jeannie in Ohio from United States

    Loving learning about how so many families are using Morning Time in their homes!

  • Wonderful ideas for creating your best morning time.
    by Flowerpetal2 from Australia

    The ideas presented here are wonderful, it's great to hear how different families put together their morning time and how we can all make this a rich but simple time of beauty in our schooling days.

  • Excellent Host
    by meghanlou from United States

    Pam Barnhill is a truly excellent host and producer of podcasts. They are a pleasure to listen to, full of applicable and inspirational content. Unlike other podcasts in this genre, which are produced at home, Pam's podcasts never make me cringe because of awkward pauses or bad sound quality. Another of Pam's strengths is her ability to reflectively listen and summarize what she's heard from her guests in a way that wraps up the different segments of her interviews. Well done, Pam!

  • Helpful and fun!
    by HornGal88 from United States

    We’re just starting out with morning time and this podcast has been an invaluable source of inspiration and ideas. Keep up the good work!

  • LOVE IT!
    by sassercj from United States

    I’m always counting down the days until the next podcast…one of the best homeschooling podcasts out there!

  • Among the Best I’ve Heard
    by More Like Mary from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie so when I say that this is among the best, that’s really a compliment! Pam is an excellent interviewer. She re-states main ideas and summarizes information in a way that is helpful and not condescending. She asked poignant questions and stays on topic. Her guests are phenomenal and I’ve learned so much from each episode. So far, this podcast is “big picture” homeschooling talk with lots of tips for implementing lofty ideals into daily life. The perfect combination. I will be looking forward to many more of these!

  • Gave me the tools I needed!
    by Momofmany:) from United States

    This podcast is amazing. (I am spoiled now; the quality alone is superb!) I have listened to the four current episodes several times and now understand "morning time" in a way I never have before-- in particular, the schole part. I've longed for restful learning for ten years, and now I have tools to actually do it. Our whole family has benefitted so much. Thank you, Pam!!

  • What’s important
    by sncstraub from United States

    Pam Barnhill’s new podcast on Morning Time is a great help to those of us who are homeschooling. I’ve only listened to the first episode so far, but it’s wonderfully encouraging to hear Cindy Rollins’ talking through her own experiences with Morning Time. I’m looking forward to listening to more episodes with others who are focusing their schools on the important things - the true, good, and beautiful.

  • New listener and hooked!
    by Bytesofmemory from United States

    I just started listening to the first podcast this morning and I am completely hooked on this podcast. I took the advice in the first podcast and just started with morning time. Instead of trying to “give birth to an adult” morning time I just started doing something and will add things in as this becomes a habit. Thanks for the wonderful tool!! I am now off to listen to episode 2!!

  • Great!
    by Wvshaddox from United States

    Encouragement for homeschool.

  • A Gift to the Homeschool Community
    by HGPII from United States

    This podcast is so well done, informative, and just what the homeschooling moms needs. It includes achievable, sound suggestions as well as an abundant dose of inspiration. I can’t wait to revamp my Morning Time and watch the results!

  • Encouraging and informative!
    by sarahdempsen from United States

    I have enjoyed Your Morning Basket from its first episode! I am a second generation homeschooler and just started our own family's homeschooling journey. Thanks to YMB, I implemented our "circle time" starting our second week of school and it has been such a blessing to me already even its very simple form of prayer, Psalm, Mother Goose, and then read-aloud time with my kindergartner. My 2 and 4 year olds also love it and it encourages me to include things in our day that might get left out, like nursery rhymes and simple children's songs! Thanks to Pam and YMB I feel like I am starting out with a great centering tool and routine that can be expanded and adapted as we grow!

  • A great resource!
    by Bookgirl630 from United States

    Your Morning Basket Podcast is a great resource for to help implement morning time into your homeschool day. I have enjoyed every episode so far.

  • Thank you for wonderful bonus at the end!
    by Caj312 from United States

    I just discovered this show and listened to the first 4 episodes. All were inspiring and I loved the useful links at the end of the show that help me improve my homeschool days! Well done and I look forward to the next episode.

  • One of my VERY favorites
    by Dianna @ The Kennedy Adventure from United States

    I’m a bit of a podcast junkie, but YMB ranks among my very, very favorites. If you’re a homeschooling mother, or a mom who wants to connect with your children and show them truth, goodness and beauty, this is a must listen. Kudos, Pam, on a another amazing podcast series.

  • Timely
    by AggieRudy3 from United States

    I’ve been trying to figure out morning time on my own, but Pam with this podcast has figuratively sat down with me and explained how to get things going. I’m so glad to have this resource at the beginning of my family's homeschool journey! The Basket Bonuses have also been so helpful.

  • Thanks!
    by heyh2 from United States

    Thanks for the new podcast. Loving it!

  • Wonderful podcast with practical advice
    by Victorzvaliant from United States

    Thank you Pam for a great podcast, I am really enjoying it. I always come away inspired and with ideas I can use!

  • Changed our Homeschool Morning routine
    by HeatherinSC from United States

    I have been listening to the Your Morning Basket podcasts recently and Pam's blog writings about creating morning time traditions with your children and I feel like it has made a huge positive difference in our homeschool. I love Pam's ideas for creating a restful learning environment and focusing on truth, goodness, and beauty as we begin our day together. I listen to these podcasts over and over and take notes!

  • Excellent for homeschooling veterans and newbies
    by ASnow512 from United States

    I'm very new to homeschooling and I'm still deciding if our family will pursue that path. This podcast has been such a wealth of information and a wonderful encouragement!

  • Inspiring and Uplifting
    by vabjohnson from United States

    I was immediately inspired to create a more cohesive structure to our homeschool mornings. This podcast is full of helpful suggestions to make morning time meaninful for every type of homeschooling family. I've already implemented many of the wonderful suggestions and I can already see the benefits! An absoulte must for the homeschooling family!

  • Bringing Joy
    by Louisiana Mommy T from United States

    What an amazing podcast! This podcast has wonderful suggestions for bringing joy to (or back to) your homeschool. Everything is doable and enjoyable for the children and parents alike. Keep up the wonderful work!

  • Great podcast!
    by corew50 from United States

    This is our first year of homeschooling and I am really enjoying the concept of morning time. It is a sweet way to start our day together and this podcast has been amazing! Enjoyable, super practical, and filled with lots of creative ideas. Thanks for creating it.

  • Inspiring, yet practical
    by mamato3cs from United States

    Pam's Your Morning Basket podcast is one not to be missed! She and her guests inspire and spur me on to do great things in our homeschool, but it's not just adding more to my to-do list. There are practical suggestions for how to make morning time a refreshing and vital part of our day.

  • Super Helpful & Encouraging
    by Sanibel4ever from United States

    I have been homeschooling for a many years. I like that I can count on Pam to make to make it worth my while (and my short amount of time!) for a listen. As always, practical info I can start using right away.

  • Great Poscast
    by Sarah B R from United States

    Love Pam's interviews. I learn much from each poscast!

  • A Joy to Listen to!
    by Cude 🙂 from United States

    I am thoroughly enjoying this new podcast! I love to listen to people who encourage me on my homeschooling journey and I have added Your Morning Basket to my list.

  • JUST what I needed!!!
    by Foodie in Training from United States

    This is our first year homeschooling (Kinder) and this podcast has been INCREDIBLY helpful and a GREAT source of information!!! I cannot wait for more to come! <3 THANK YOU!!!!

  • Practical - worth a listen!
    by Bloggerific! from United States

    As a homeschooling mom of 6, my free time is limited. But I always come away with some practical, useful tips from Pam Barnhill. I love to listen if I’m alone in the car (rare these days!).

  • Well done [FIRST NAME]
    by MattMcWilliams from United States

    WOW… Your Morning Basket Podcast is flat out awesome. Good production quality. Easy to listen. Very impressed Pam. Keep bringing it.

  • Inspiring and refreshing!
    by BugTurner from United States

    What a great podcast. At first I was dubious whether you could have an entire podcast series about homeschooling using morning time, but now that I have listened to two of them, I see where Pam is going with this. It is affirming for me in what I am trying to do in our homeschool, and at the same time inspires me in ways to improve and refine our time together as a homeschooling family. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to simplify their homeschool efforts while simultaneously enriching their family's experience!

  • Brilliant
    by SHTirm from United Kingdom

    I absolutely love it. Ever since I read about morning time, I wanted to know more. This podcast clearly explains what to do and how to do it. Episode with Cindy Rollins was brilliant. It gives you the overall idea of morning time practice, as she is doing it for 27 years. Andrew Pudewa in second episodes shared some insights about memorisation, which really makes so much sense. Pam asks clear questions and then repeats the main points in answer, which is very helpful, especially for new homeschooling mums. Overall this programme has everything one can ask for to get inspired and motivated. Thanks very much for putting so much effort. Well done.

  • Excellent!
    by RC5476 from United States

    I have really appreciated everything Pam Barnhill puts out. I have been introduced to so many great homeschoolers and their resources through The Homeschool Snapshots podcast, and I love that she is digging deeper into a great homeschooling practice on her new show, Morning Basket. It is definitely on my Must Listen list each week!

  • Bring the best you to your homeschool
    by mystiewinckler from United States

    Our Morning Time is the best part of our homeschool, and Pam’s podcast helps us learn how to make it even better and encourages us to pursue the true, good, and beautiful still more. So helpful!

  • Inspiring!
    by Mamato8 from United States

    I've only recently found out about Morning Baskets, after 14 years of homeschooling. What a find! And now to have these podcasts to help guide me along on my new journey! I've been sharing this like crazy, and my morning routine is fabulous now! Thank You!

  • Education to Educate
    by Isaac in St Louis from United States

    I have gained so much from these first two early podcasts. I am grateful to you, Pam. Thank you for offering this as we strive to fulfill our sacred duty and privilege to give our children an education. Please continue. I see such great things coming from this. I rank this up their with Circe’s offerings.

  • Wonderful
    by BGTwinsMom from United States

    When you're on the homeschool "circuit" it's easy to become one of Andrew Pudewa's groupies. So the excitement level for Pam's newest podcast doubled when I opened it on my iPhone and saw Andrew's name. I was remiss in not reviewing her first segment. Pam is a wonderful interviewer and has the ability to make conversation with her guests based on their answers and move seamlessly to her following questions. That is not easy to do. Highly recommend this to parents who Homeschool. Encouraging, motivating, and validating.

  • So Inspiring!
    by bethenyn from United States

    So inspiring! This podcast is what I needed to get our homeschool off to a great start this year. I will not miss an episode.

  • Inspiring and thought provoking!
    by Pascualamb from United States

    I've always thought memory work was so important in my 8 years as a teacher in a high school setting. I often required memorization and was criticized for this requirement. I recently decided to homeschool my children and this podcast was so affirming to me. I am glad to be able to follow my instincts as a teacher and give my kids what they deserve! Thank you for this wonderful podcast that inspired me to make memory work an important part of my homeschool.

  • Affirming & helpful
    by BOLDturquoise from United States

    I knew I would enjoy this podcast but I didn't know that I would LOVE it! As our family has moved more and more towards a simplified homeschool method, this podcast is just the thing to reaffirm our choices and continuously inspire us with new ideas. I can't wait for each new episode!

  • Inspiring
    by Amongst Lovely Things from United States

    This is just the kind of podcast I need to breathe life into my homeschool year. I’m so grateful for this new show, and Pam is a talented host. I won’t miss an episode!

  • Delightful...a Must Listen
    by 1coltsfamily from United States

    While I have heard Cindy Rollins speak about morning time before, I was pleasantly surprised to glean many new nuggets of wisdom that I can incorporate right away into our morning time. I always enjoy listening to Pam and find her questions spot on! The podcast is a wonderful balance of inspiration and practical tips. Can't wait for the next one!

  • Your Morning Basket
    by inakamama from Australia

    So lovely and inspiring! Looking forward to more...

  • Helpful & inspiring!
    by starlingsfive from United States

    A great resource for homeschool moms and so well put-together. Full of useful information, not fluff. Pam has a wonderful conversation style that keeps the show moving at a steady pace. I wish I didn't have to wait so long for the next one!