YMB #25 Teaching with Ideas: A Conversation with Brandy Vencel

You’re loving your Morning Time with your kids. You have gathered a feast for their minds with living books, poetry, scripture, and Shakespeare, but something is missing. Where are all the deep meaningful conversations you had hoped to have with your children about the big ideas of life?

In this episode, Brandy Vencel joins us to talk about the marriage between facts and ideas, how to draw out big ideas from your living book read alouds using good questions. She encourages us to be patient as we introduce the ideas of virtue to our children.

She also talks about more practical issues such as how to introduce virtues without moralizing, how and why to choose the best literature when introducing big ideas, and which ideas might be more accessible for different ages.

Join us as Brandy helps us tackle the idea of ideas in our Morning Time.

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 25 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I am Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy you’re joining me here today. Well, today’s conversation has been a long time in coming. I’m getting to chat with Brandy Vencel, who, as many of you know is a really good friend of mine, and ever since Your Morning Basket, the podcast, was just a long list of topics we have had this topic on our list of things to do and I knew Brandy was the person I wanted to come and chat with me about it. The idea is teaching with ideas. Don’t you love that? The idea is ideas. And for a long time in my head this topic was facts versus ideas but Brandy has corrected me and said, “No, no. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. Even though one of the hallmarks of the Charlotte Mason education, and a lot of what we do in Morning Time, is teaching with ideas it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re doing this and eschewing the facts. They actually work in combination but we’re focusing more on the ideas and that’s something we’re doing in our Morning Time reading, our Morning Time narrations, and our Morning Time conversations. So, I stand corrected. It’s not facts versus ideas but instead teaching with ideas. It was a fun and fascinating conversation and I think you’re really going to enjoy it.

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Brandy Vencel blogs at Afterthoughts and she’s also the author of Start Here, a Journey through Charlotte Mason’s 20 Principles. She is a member of the AmblesideOnline Auxiliary and she has homeschooled her four children using the Charlotte Mason method for over 12 years. In season 1 of Your Morning Basket Brandy joined us to discuss reading aloud during Morning Time, and during the course of that interview she touched on the concept of facts versus ideas- how living books can help us spark our children’s interest and imagination by pairing factual information with these big ideas. And so she joins us today to continue that conversation. Brandy, welcome to the program.
Brandy: Well, thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Pam: I’m just really happy you’re here, it’s always so much fun to talk with you. Well, when we use the term idea in this content, in this whole facts and ideas thing, what do we mean? What is a living idea?
Brandy: So, you’re basically starting off with a question that philosophers can’t answer.
Pam: But I expect YOU to answer it!
Brandy: Naturally, when you told me the topic, I looked in Charlotte Mason’s volumes to try to figure out how she defined ideas because I felt if Plato has a hard time with this then I can’t cut it. In Volume 6 (A Philosophy of Education) she kind of talks about the idea by talking around it. So she says things like, “it inspires us” or “it seizes us.” We say, “I had an idea” and we think of the light bulb over the head and it starts to change the way we think about everything. So she doesn’t really define it she just talks about what it’s like. So then I looked in Volume 1 (Home Education) and in Volume 1 she actually had a pretty long passage. So I had it ready for today if you don’t mind me reading part of it.
Pam: Not at all.
Brandy: First, she starts with the dictionary definition. So the dictionary basically talks about it being the image or picture that the mind forms of anything outside of the mind, but then she goes on and she says, “An idea is more than an image or a picture. It is, so to speak, a spiritual germ endowed with vital force, with power that is to grow and to produce after its kind. It is the very nature of an idea to grow.” And, I’ll skip a little bit, then she says, “We know from our own experience that let our attention be forcibly drawn to some public character, some startling theory, and for days after we are continually hearing or reading matter which bears on this one subject just as if all the world were thinking about what occupies our thoughts. The fact being that the new idea we have received is in the act of growth and it is reaching out after its appropriate food. This process of feeding goes on with peculiar avidity in children, in childhood, and the growth of an idea in the child is proportionally rabid.” I like the rabid part at the end. So again, we have that idea -- that it’s this thing and it captures our attention and it changes everything for us and so we don’t actually have a definition. How’s that?
Pam: So, it’s this thing that captures our attention, and what was that last part you said again? This is the blind leading the blind here.
Brandy: Really. It’s this thing that captures our attention and it causes us to grow, it motivates us. A bad analogy, which is the only one I have, would be almost that it’s like this cancer in the sense that it takes over. You know how cancer hijacks your body. So I feel like the way she’s describing it is like that, only this is a good thing not a bad thing. But it takes over your whole mind. I thought this was interesting where she’s saying that we hear an idea and then we feel like we see it everywhere and so we’re thinking, “Oh wow, everybody else is seeing this idea,” and she’s saying that’s always been there, it was just that when we finally got the idea our eyes were opened up and now we can see it.
Pam: So this just opens up a whole new can of worms because (don’t you just love my colloquialisms) you cannot force feed a child ideas.
Brandy: Right.
Pam: By this definition that you’re giving me, this non-definition that you’re giving me from Charlotte Mason, it’s not like you could sit down and you can say, “Well, I’m going to teach the kids about loyalty” or “I’m going to teach the kids about patriotism” or “I’m going to teach the kids …” because this is what I was thinking when I was thinking of ideas, and so, it’s almost like you can’t moralize about any of these things. You can’t push any of these things down their throat, you’ve just got to present this to them, and either they grab onto that idea or not, but by this definition it has to be something that they’re just extremely interested in and that it consumes their thoughts.
Brandy: Right. Which is why I think she has this idea throughout her books of education being the feast and so you’re setting the table but it’s sort of the whole bring a horse to water thing; you can bring them but you can’t make them drink. She has the same kind of thing where you set the table and so everybody gets exposed to the same food but you never know who’s really going to take what and who’s really going to digest what and who’s going to want more of what dish, it’s kind of like gambling. You can’t predict the outcome.
Pam: When you come into these conversations and you think you’ve got it all figured out and you know exactly what you’re going to talk about and then you realize you don’t.
Brandy: I didn’t realize how many bad analogies I had until we started talking.
Pam: Awesome. The phrase ‘facts versus ideas’ could imply that the two things are opposed to one another but that’s not necessarily what we’re talking about here.
Brandy: Right.
Pam: Talk about the relationship between facts and ideas.
Brandy: I think they complement each other and I wrote a post a couple of years ago, I think it was for the Scholè Sisters, back when it was a blog, but I feel like I gave people the impression that I was anti facts and it’s totally not true. I just think I’ve seen the danger of focusing too much on facts and so, in that particular post (I probably could find it for you), I was trying to offer a bit of correction to the pendulum, if that makes sense. But I think with facts we have the bare bones. Let’s say we’re reading a really great history story. Facts would be the bare bones of what happened, what is. So, it’s all true but if I just read you an encyclopedia version of “so-and-so did such-and-such on this date in this year and that’s the extent of it. Those are the facts and they are all true and they’re all important but they’re not really that compelling. Reading that isn’t really going to change my life, most likely. So I think facts don’t really touch the heart and so I was going to talk about the idea of courage or justice without any facts though, I would hardly make sense because it’s all too nebulous. It’s like trying to define an idea. I had to move to examples because it’s just totally nebulous that it’s hard to nail down what it even means. And I think all of these things that I think of as virtues are like that. If I just try to describe courage without any facts or any examples it’s not really going to make any sense. And that also wouldn’t be very compelling.
Pam: Well, you just fall into moralizing, honestly.
Brandy: True. That’s so true, which is probably anti-motivation for kids, I think. So, I think what a good story does, a history story, let’s say it’s a real story, so we have real facts here, but it is unifying the facts and the ideas together. So it’s communicating the most important thing which is the ideas. So that act of courage that’s a fact in history happened because of this underlying virtue, all these underlying ideas that compel the hero to do the amazing thing but it’s clothed in this story and it includes all the incidental facts that tether that story to the earth and that’s why a well-written biography can be so compelling; it’s got all the fact correct but it’s also compelling because the story incarnates all of these bigger ideas. So to me the ideal is always to have both.
Pam: I guess where you want to correct the pendulum is that when we rely so much on these facts and when we spend all of this time memorizing these facts or drilling these facts or testing on these facts at the detriment of the ideas then we’re just laying out the bland food we’re not spreading a feast at all.
Brandy: Right. I used to have this talk I gave on (I guess I still give it once in a while) memory work and I would have parents come up to me afterwards and say, “I don’t really have time for poetry and Scripture lest over because we have to learn these umpteen million timeline facts and geography facts and all of that,” and I just felt like let’s turn this on its head and do all the great things in context first; let’s do the Scripture and let’s do the poetry and let’s do the great speeches and then if we have time left over, let’s do … I always make sure I have time for math facts, those things are important, but let’s switch our priorities to make sure that most of what they’re memorizing are things that are in context and live in the mind.
Pam: And contain these ideas.
Brandy: Right.
Pam: So, let’s talk a little more about not what an idea is because you’ve told us that you can’t help us there…
Brandy: Unless you want more nonsense, I can find some.
Pam: … but let’s give some examples of what we might be talking about. We’ve touched on this a little bit already. We’ve said courage and justice and things of that nature, but let’s give a few more examples. I know that in our conversation before we were talking about geography books and Minn of the Mississippi, so could you pull out a few other examples of what are ideas that are not even necessarily virtues.
Brandy: I think it changes as kids are different ages. So I just finished planning 9th grade for my oldest child and I was trying to think about what are some of the ideas that are in this particular year of school that we planned and I would say there are things like where does law come from? Or money theory, actually, of all things, what is money? How does it work? What is economics and how does that work? It’s actually some really big more adult sort of ideas this year. We’ve had years where I’ve felt like the focus was on leadership. So, what is a good king or a good leader look like? What does it look like to lead well? And so that would involve courage but it would involve a lot of other things also. I remember (I want to say it was one of our first years) we had just been reading all of these stories of British kings and at the end of the year, for me, the big idea I took away that I’d never thought of before was that the distinguishing mark of all of these different kinds was basically, you could strip away almost all of their qualifications and even how brave or not brave they were, that ultimately it seemed like the good kings were the ones that truly loved their people and their country and the bad ones all loved something else more; usually themselves, sometimes money. I didn’t set up the curriculum myself and I didn’t even go into it looking for that but I know at the end of it that was definitely our conversation; I just realized at the end of the year, ‘Goodness, all of our conversations circled around this idea of a good king, his love extends outward to his people and his country,’ and it was just really fascinating. It’s hard to narrow it down and every book tends to have multiple ideas and we catch different things depending on who we are and what we’re right before, it just changes.
Pam: What about some little kid ideas? You gave me some good ones for big kids, but what about little kid ideas, what are some ideas that you see prevalent for younger elementary kids in the some of the literature that you’ve read in the past years?
Brandy: I think with really little kids, I almost try to think about this backwards, so with really small children, let’s say 6 and 7, so really small school-aged children what we read, maybe a lot of Aesop’s, we’ve got a lot of courage, hard work, preparing for the future, being honest, understanding that other people are sometimes dishonest I think is another thing that comes across in a lot of children’s books. What are fairy tales teaching us? They do teach us courage, they’ll teach us sacrifice. Or sometimes they’ll even teach us what a real princess is, and that’s always an interesting thing. Why is it so important to distinguish a real princess (and I have some theories but I won’t go into it because it’ll totally be a rabbit trail)? Or, like the Bible stories we’re telling; we’re really telling our children just the basic questions- who are you and why are you here? And we think of that as being a question for grownups because that’s what philosophy preoccupies itself with, but really, that’s why we’re telling them all of these Bible tales when they’re little. They have to understand that. They’re getting their basic basics down. And with the older elementary I think we start to flesh out virtues and also relationships. So, what’s a good friend? What’s a good parent? What’s a good husband or good wife? So we have the virtues of courage and justice and those kinds of things but I feel like there’s a lot of relational stuff that comes up in the types of books that I find myself reading to my elementary students and I’m not sure that’s an accident. As I listen to my children talk I feel that’s the age where they start to have their little play yard fights or their fights with the neighborhood kids and they have to find out what does it mean to be a good friend? What does it mean to “play fair” so I think their books are helping them work that out.
Pam: Oh yeah, that’s great. That’s really great. When you’re reading or previewing a book how do you discern what ideas are embedded within that book? We just talked about the fact that you’re not going to be able to hit your kids over the head with this, you can’t really sit down with a book and say, ‘OK, Johnny’s in 3rd grade this year and we’re going to read [this] book and so he’s going to learn from [this] book how to be a good friend.’ You’re going to hope he catches on to that idea, but you can’t guarantee that he is, and you can’t moralize it. Anyway, looking at the books themselves how do you discern what ideas are embedded within the book? Are there any questions you ask yourself or clues that you look for?
Brandy: I do think I’m naturally an ideas person. You sent me this question in advance and I was really trying to think so what am I actually doing? Because I feel like so much of that is subconscious, it’s not really a formal process, but I do think there are questions I’m asking myself. So, I remember when I had all small children, asking myself what the nature of the relationship was between the characters in the picture books, specifically between parents and children. We had a number of very modern picture books that were given to us where it just continually, the theme was the parents were dumb, the children knew more than the parents, and therefore the children had rights to be very disrespectful to their parents, and so I pretty much categorized those particular books as toxic and they disappeared one night.
Pam: The book fairy came and got them and took them away.
Brandy: They were seen no more. Not that relationships have to be perfect at all but I didn’t want it to be that I’m actually forming my child’s view of the world to be that “you’re actually smarter than mommy, you don’t really need her to help you navigate the world.” So I look at the relationships but I don’t think it’s just the relationships. I read this fairytale to my kids the other day and this prince has been tricked into marrying a troll wife and I wouldn’t get rid of that just because there’s this “bad relationship” so I think it’s also how that bad relationship is framed. Is it viewed as bad? Because if the prince marries the troll wife and this is considered a good thing then that’s a problem. And does good triumph over it and make it right? Somehow, especially with little children, oh goodness – what is that – was it Chesterton that said the thing about dragons where it’s fairytales…
Pam: You know that the dragons are bad because just deep within you, you know that dragons are bad.
Brandy: Right. And fairytales aren’t telling children that dragons exist, they’re telling them that they could be fought. So I look at the relationships but I also look at is that fought back against or is that made right or is it at least acknowledged that truly Good relationship are good and truly Bad relationships are bad – that kind of thing. With stories I also think it’s worth to ask the general question what’s the story really about? What messages is it sending? And that’s easier with picture books than the older the children get the more complicated it gets and sometimes the books aren’t about one thing. I think when they’re really small we actually can ask, “It’s about this character doing this thing.” But I also think what ideas are taken for granted? Because I think sometimes the ideas in the background are the more dangerous. One of the books I was talking about that I threw away, it was not because there was lying in the book but it was that it was acknowledged that lying was necessary in a normal part of human existence in a sort of ‘you could do this occasionally and that would be fine.’ So I felt like the book wasn’t about lying but it was this underlying acceptance that that was how maybe we might deal with some things in our life, and so, I ask the question: What things are assumed to be good, or at least OK? What things are assumed to be normal, because the things that are assumed to be normal those are the deep, embedded underlying ideas that frame this world that the story’s taking place in and so we have less of a guard up about those things than we do about what happens in the story. And so, thinking about what kind of a world is this story set in and is that really teaching my child true things about our world? I’m specifically talking about younger students. I’m not nearly so careful with my high schooler of course, but when we’re talking about early elementary and younger, I think those kinds of questions are really important.
Pam: Right. And as they get older and you’ve led them through this period where you’ve only presented them with those ideas then you can present them with something else that’s a little more shades of gray and they can figure out some of the questions to those questions themselves.
Brandy: Right.
Pam: With you along beside.
Brandy: I think it’s good that the books get a little more complicated and it’s a bit hard to articulate because that’s real life. And real life isn’t always so clear and black and white, even that is preparing that idea that it’s hard for me to sort this out, even that’s an idea that is good for them to have to handle as they’re getting older.
Pam: So this conversation has really taken a turn of discernment. Am I safe in saying that you never sit down and say, ‘OK, this year I’m going to teach these five ideas so now I’m going to go and seek out books, but you teach the books that you want to teach and then let the ideas speak for themselves?
Brandy: Yes, that’s actually true. I can probably count on one hand where I actually hunted down a book on a particular topic and the times I did that I didn’t feel like it was very successful. So, I’ve learned to take the opposite approach at least with my own children and so, I’m really picky about books and I try to present the “best possible books” especially during our formal lesson times. And then from there we just try to pull the ideas out. I think the best books the ideas come out on the their own; we don’t have to really force it. So I think by getting the books – there’s a reason why everybody loves certain books and so I think by doing that then everything else just happens organically. It happens naturally because when a human reads a really good book then things happen and it’s just like a completely normal part of being a person.
Pam: Do you ever want them to get something that they don’t get and so are you pulling or are you trying to hit over the head? Are you asking all these leading questions or do you just let it go?
Brandy: Definitely hitting, hitting over the head!
Pam: That was figurative, you know?
Brandy: So, a couple of things. First, I would say that I have learned that sometimes I feel like they’re not getting something because I went into Circle Time with an agenda regarding this book. So I maybe pre-read this story and I decided, which has happened multiple times, I decided that I knew what my children should get out of this book. And so then I felt like they were not getting this central idea that was so important to me and it turned out it was because they were getting some other idea. And so I’ve tried now to really back off and be careful about assuming failure just because the response isn’t what I expected, if that makes sense. But definitely there are times when I’m ‘this certain connection -- it seems pretty important to me’ and so that is when I resort to questions and I don’t over question. I’m sure you’ve heard these questions, I may have even talked about this last time, but my two favorite questions that I use over and over (my first one Wendi Capehart taught to me years and years ago; she runs The Common Room blog, she’s a founding member of AmblesideOnline) her question is “Does this remind you of anything else?” and it’s very enlightening to hear the connection the child makes between [this] story that we just read and some other thing that’s lodged in their memory somewhere. And lots of times that gives me a clue as to what the idea is that they’re getting, and I think it forces them to move into idea mode if they were just not there yet, for whatever reason, because we all know that we have off mornings and that kind of thing. Then the other one is Andrew Kern’s famous question of, ‘Should X have done Y?’ so talking about more what has gone on. And I think sometimes those questions can get really close to the connection you’re wanting. If you choose the question, which I don’t think the question works for every book, but if you choose the question carefully …
Pam: Like “Should X have done Y?” The famous one he uses is “Should Edward have gone with the White Witch?”
Brandy: Right. So, if you have a kid that somehow it doesn’t seem to be connecting that Edward went with the White Witch and this was really bad then it seems like a question like that you can target it without starting the preaching of “Edward went with the White Witch and that was bad, children!”
Pam: He took candy from strangers.
Brandy: Exactly.
Pam: You should never do that.
Brandy: That’s hilarious.
Pam: OK, that’s one of the things, that’s a lovely thing about living books is that the whole family can listen to the same story and different family members can latch on to different ideas. So, do you have a couple of examples where maybe you’ve read something to everyone in your family and your kids or maybe you had one thing in mind and your child came up with something brilliant – that wasn’t what you had in mind? Because I know that these Vencel children are brilliant.
Brandy: Well, they are smarter than their mother sometimes, that’s for sure (that’s not hard to do though). Well, I was thinking something like that happened: so, I’m reading aloud a book that I don’t know I would recommend for every family (some people might be horrified that I’m reading this book aloud). I’m reading aloud, it’s David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood which it’s written for adults and it’s a story of the famous Johnstown flood from the late 1800’s because I’m like “it’s the end of summer and we should read something uplifting like a natural disaster.” So anyway, I’ve had this book on my shelf forever and I finally decided that my youngest child was old enough to at least not completely die from me reading this and so I’m reading it aloud and it had crossed my mind that one of the characters in Rudyard Kipling’s Captains Courageous (which I read out loud to my children a few years ago) one of the sailors on the boat in that story he’s basically psychologically broken and he lost his entire family in that flood and that’s why he’s so broken. He leaves reality because he cannot handle reality, he can’t handle his wife and children are gone. And so, none of my children had acted like that part, he’s not completely main character in the story, and none of them had acted like they really even noticed him that much. I don’t remember anybody saying anything about it. So I start reading The Johnstown Flood and in the first chapter, and it hasn’t even got that interesting. At this point I’m questioning my wisdom in choosing this book and all of a sudden my 9 year old daughter, who was only 5 or 6 when I read Captains Courageous said, “Remember that book about the guys on the boat and that man lost all of his children. What is a flood like this?” It was this flood. This is the story of what happened to his family. And her eyes got so big. But what was interesting was she has two older siblings so they should be much more able to remember that part of the book and one of them didn’t even remember that after she explained it. And the other one he had to really think. And he was like, “Oh yeah, I do kind of remember that guy.” But what they had taken away from Captains Courageous was all sorts of other things about how life transforming hard work was; in that story it takes this spoiled rich kid and makes him a man and so it’s a coming of age, it’s a rite of passage, it’s all these things. They had taken all those kinds of things away from it but had completely missed this psychologically traumatized person but my 9 year old, that’s pretty much all she can tell you about the book. And so it’s really interesting. I would say she’s one of my more empathetic children and I think her heart went out to this guy and my insensitive older children didn’t care about him.
Pam: But they got the whole coming of age thing.
Brandy: Exactly. Which they are probably much more interested in this kid who’s closer to their own age. I was thinking that I read this book to everybody, and of course, my youngest child was just too young to even remember this book, but it was interesting with all three of them and how they start discussing the book, only one of them was even able to connect that book to this other book that I’m reading because she was the only one that remembered the incident. Books are a powerful thing.
Pam: They are. And it’s interesting how they speak to us so differently. Let’s talk about within a lifetime, this is a good segue into that because you have the younger empathetic child who feels for this psychologically broken character and then you have these other two who you said were probably relating more to the character near their own age. So do you find yourself re-reading old favorites and finding new ideas?
Brandy: Oh yes. In fact I found myself pondering can I just continually re-read Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and that would be OK? Can I just not read anything else to my children? I love reading The Chronicles of Narnia. I love reading Tolkien’s trilogy and The Hobbit. That’s a lot of pages but I’ve read them multiple times out loud to my children. And every time I feel like I notice something new. I feel like the first time I read through The Lord of the Rings what I caught was all the stuff that everybody quotes, that’s what I caught. And I remember thinking, ‘That’s why everybody quotes this. This is such a powerful moment in the story.’ The quote is powerful in itself but it’s so powerful in context. But then the other times I’ve read through it, goodness, it’s not a different book, but the re-visiting I see other things. I think it took me three readings to connect that the reason why the Shire was this peaceful safe place was because all these rangers had been protecting it for generations. They have been protected by a power bigger than themselves and so they think there’s nothing wrong with the world but it’s because someone else was taking care of them, and I didn’t get that the first reading. And I do the same thing, I re-read a lot of very specific educational books. I’ll read through parts of Charlotte Mason’s volumes or I’ve read Norms and Nobility a couple of times and again, it was the same kind of thing. Well, my first reading of Charlotte Mason’s Volume 1 I took away one idea – we should go outside. That’s pretty much all I got. She was way over my head. So then we went outside and I read the book again and then that time I got a different idea. And so it just keeps building and I felt like each time I could understand a little bit more. I don’t think every book is worth re-reading but I definitely think some of the more important books grow with you. As you grow as a person then you get all these new things out of the book again.
Pam: Right. I definitely think that that’s the case. I have a reverse example of that because I never read (we’re not going to talk about the worthiness of this book) Catcher in the Rye as a teen and I know that teenagers supposedly love this book so I read it first as a college-age student and I’ve always been a little older than what my age was. And I was just like, ‘I can’t believe people like this book. This kid needs to be spanked and sent to his room or something. He’s horrible.’ And teenagers love this book. So I think definitely as you age and as you grow and as you change and as you mature you’re going to approach books differently than you did when you read them when you were younger.
Brandy: That is true. I was just thinking about this. I remember loving Romeo and Juliet in high school and thinking it was so romantic.
Pam: Oh don’t get me started!
Brandy: I re-read it as an adult and it’s like watching The Titanic. You just met him! This is stupid. Then I’m mad at Shakespeare.
Pam: More people who need to be spanked and sent to their room.
Brandy: Exactly.
Pam: Shakespeare’s turning in his grave. I think you’re exactly right. I think that makes books totally worth re-reading; most books, like you said, not all of them.
You have a child and maybe they’re not saying a whole lot during Morning Time. You read, you narrate, but they’re not really discussing the book a lot. I’m not sure if you’ve ever had this problem where you have the reluctant-to-discuss child but that doesn’t mean he or she isn’t picking up some of the living ideas from a book that you’ve just read. So do you think that kids process or work through big ideas in different ways?
Brandy: Oh for sure. I was actually thinking about this. I read Cindy Rollins’ new book Mere Motherhood. I call it my mental vacation because I read it all in two days and I pretty much did nothing else and it was so refreshing.
Pam: Oh, that sounds awesome.
Brandy: It was so great. But she makes this passing comment in her book. She asks a question, and I think it was something about ‘I wonder how many ideas I processed on my walk home from school?’ and I was thinking about that that we’re often so in a hurry to get to the good discussion part and the good discussion gives us the sense of validation (“I just did this thing and I need feedback!”).
Pam: And I can mark it off the list now.
Brandy: Exactly.
Brandy: Discussed the book.
Brandy: And so we want these responses right away. And I mean sometimes we do get responses right away, but it’s taken me a long time to let go of that and be content that the narration is enough and we can wait for later for some of these other things. I do think if we’re reading the very best books and we’re narrating them then the idea is they haunt the mind. They’re sticking around for a long time. So I guess that processing often takes time, and so this means that we have to wait and the conversations are going to happen later and I do think there’s a couple of different ways that that comes out. And this is my new theory based on some things I’ve talked with Mystie about (and I’m not 100 percent I’m right) but I think there’s a big difference between the processing of introverts and extroverts. So, I had this friend with all these extroverted children and they were acting out all of their school books to the point where I started to feel like maybe I’m doing something wrong, how come my kids aren’t acting out all of their school books? Because I started to think in my mind, maybe this is the number one way to process ideas as a young child? But I realized with introverted children something like a walk is where this happens. So, if I take one child for a walk (which I seriously do not do often enough) but it’s half way through the walk they’ll start talking about something on their mind and sometimes it’s very related to things we’ve done in school. Sometimes it’s related to things we did in school a year ago (which is really weird!) but now that my extroverted children are older I see things are coming out in their play. And so that got my thinking. My first two children are introverts and my second two children are extroverts and when I was feeling really insecure about things not being in their play it was both introverted children I was thinking about. So that’s my new theory. I don’t know if I’m right.
Pam: That’s interesting because as an introvert I know that I process things by having conversations in my head. That’s what I’m doing and that’s why (true confession time -- I know I’ve told some people this but not a lot of people) I find it difficult to listen to podcasts because the podcast is interrupting the conversation I’m having in my head, and so if I spend all of my time listening to podcasts I can’t process my day and break down things and come up with new podcasts idea for my podcast and things like that and so I’m a podcaster who doesn’t really listen. I listen to some but not nearly as much as some other people we know. So I can totally see and I can see my children in front of me and saying, OK, this particular child I know is going to need to sit and think about this and if I’m immediately jumping on and trying to have a discussion with them about it they’ve got to have time to process first.
Brandy: That’s been hard for me because even though I can be very introverted I have never been one to not want to engage in conversation right after I read something because I get so excited and so I really have had to learn to control myself and to give my children time to marinate and to be OK with picking the conversation back up a long time later. That was something I really had to learn (my poor oldest child).
Pam: And too, we have to learn to trust the educational process that we’ve set out. Because you’re right, it’s not like we’re going to mark a time on our calendar two weeks from now and say, “Go back and discuss Captains Courageous again, chapter 3, they’ve had time to marinate, so let’s go back and discuss it.” We’ve just got to trust the process that we’ve laid out and that it is happening in their head because we are laying out this feast of wonderful literature, it is happening in their heads, they are mulling over these ideas, they are making these connections and it may be something we never hear about.
Brandy: Right. And I do think as I’m thinking about this that maybe one key thing… Cindy Rollins’ has her walk on her way home from school. I do think making sure that there is time in the children’s schedule for that processing time. Like what you’re talking about with the podcasting and getting in the way of the processing. I do wonder if sometimes overscheduled children don’t get that chance to process and so then the conversations will be less likely to happen later on because the processing has never really had an opportunity to happen. I’m thinking maybe we need to protect that, for both introverts and extroverts, because the introvert might need time in the garden by herself but then the extrovert needs that time to have the imaginative play; both of them are doing their processing in their own way but for both of them the free time was what was really necessary for that to be able to happen.
Pam: But it’s never something we’re going to be able to check off in a neat and tidy box.
Brandy: No, never. So frustrating, huh?
Pam: Very much so. OK well we’ve kind of touched on this but you read aloud a book that contains some living ideas but then what? So we’re sitting there in Morning Time, we’ve read this book to the kids, obviously we know that the first step is narration back to us, and now we’re talking about well, no, you need to let them have time to marinate these ideas and so is that it? Or is there anything else we can do?
Brandy: I feel like I’m so disappointing, yeah that’s it.
Pam: Darn it.
Brandy: Pretty much, it really is. Like I said before with the questions, I do sometimes think, ‘OK I’m going to ask a few questions and see if I can get a discussion going here.’ And Plutarch is no longer part of our Morning Time but we have a separate Plutarch as a group set aside and I definitely ask some questions there. We use Anne White’s guides and so it is very natural and I think they’re used to it and so they’ve got to where they expect they have to interact right after. So I think there’s a place for that especially when kids get older I figure someday they might have a boss that wants them to verbally respond to whatever he just says so it might help… instead of just staring and thinking, ‘can’t you just give me to time to think for a week and come back?’ But really, I feel like for most of our Circle Time we just move on to the next thing so I might have a couple of readings after we’ve done our memory work and after we’ve done Bible and all those other things and I have got to where I do trust that it comes later. I started thinking of this as like a car and so I’m putting gas in the car. So I’m not taking the trip right now, I’m just putting gas in the car so that when they’re ready to take their trip there’s something in the car to go on. So that’s how I’ve started thinking about it and that’s been really helpful and I’ve realized that it’s their car and they get to drive it whenever they want (for the most part), and how they want to, and my job is just to make sure that their little tank is filled up so that there’s something to help them go when their little mind gets going and so that’s where the narration is. I think of it like they have leaky tanks; they’ve got this really stimulating environment and then there’s the next thing and the next thing and so I feel like narration is plugging the holes in the tank so we’re requiring the first remembrance of them. And so after that it’s like I’ve made sure it’s in the tank …
Pam: Right.
Brandy: … so then maybe they can access that later. It’s my insurance policy. So that’s how I’ve got to think about it. So I do questions sometimes but for the most part we do just move on and yet I feel like I’ve been doing it long enough now that I’m starting to see little bits of fruit and it’s really encouraging and I don’t know that I could have ever made that happen. It’s just really beautiful when you work with how God made the world and God made a child to function. We can trust they’re persons and their little minds will really will take ideas and process them and assimilate them in ways that we can’t even imagine.
Pam: And then as the mother, as the teacher, we’re just to get out of the way.
Brandy: Hard to do some times.
Pam: Oh wow. So that’s cool. Well you have given me so much to think about as always. So I will be not listening to podcasts and mulling over this for quite some time now.
Brandy: I’m destroying podcasts statistics or whatever. Sorry.
Pam: Well, thank you so much for coming on and talking to me.
Brandy: Thanks for having me on. It was fun.
Pam: I really do appreciate it.
And there you have it. Now, the Basket Bonus for today’s episode is really awesome. And I can say that because I had nothing to do with putting it together, it was all Brandy. So what it is, is an inventory for idea maximization. So this is a one page printable, you can print out and put in your Morning Time Binder and basically, it’s a series of questions for you to ask yourself about a lesson to make sure that you are maximizing teaching with ideas. And I think it’s great. I think it’s really going to help you cement some of the concepts that Brandy and I talked about today and put them into action or implement them in your Morning Time. Now, you can get the inventory for Idea Maximization and links to any of the resources that Brandy and I chatted about today on the Show Notes for this episode. You can find those at PamBarnhill.com/YMB25. We’ll have everything for you there. Also on those Show Notes are directions for how you can leave a rating or review for the Your Morning Basket podcast on iTunes. The ratings and reviews that you leave on iTunes help us get word out about the podcast to new listeners and we really appreciate it if you’ve taken the time to do that. Well, you guys have an awesome week, we’ll be back again in another couple of weeks with another wonderful Your Morning Basket interview, and until then keep seeking Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Discussing Ideas with Kids

  • Wrestling with ideas is part of the human experience. True education gives us opportunities to encounter living ideas and big questions, like “What is virtue?” and “What makes a good leader?” for example. These ideas simmer in our minds and shape us. Ideas influence how we view the world, treat others, and make decisions.
  • We spread a feast of ideas before our children by reading excellent books with them. When exposed to a great book, children (or adults) will latch onto the ideas they are ready for. We can trust the process of selecting, reading, and narrating from the best books; lectures and moralizing are unnecessary.
  • Different people process ideas in different ways. We need to let ideas marinate in our children’s minds. Some kids will want to discuss, and others will process ideas as they play. Chewing on a big idea can take time.

Find what you want to hear:

  • [2:43] What is a living idea?
  • [8:10] how facts and ideas complement each other
  • [12:00] some examples of big ideas
  • [16:50] some questions to ask yourself about the ideas in books
  • [23:15] not having an agenda; letting kids latch onto the ideas they are ready for
  • [24:10] Brandy’s two favorite discussion questions to ask kids
  • [26:45] Captains Courageous example
  • [30:24] rereading old favorites and finding new ideas; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • example
  • [31:54] Charlotte Mason example
  • [36:00] how introverts and extroverts might process ideas in different ways
  • [39:30] giving kids ample free time so they have opportunities to process ideas
  • [42:09] Brandy’s car analogy

Leave a rating or review

Doing so helps me get the word out about the podcast. iTunes bases their search results on positive ratings, so it really is a blessing — and it’s easy!

  1. Click on this link to go to the podcast main page.
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  3. Once your iTunes has launched and you are on the podcast page, click on Ratings and Review under the podcast name. There you can leave either or both! 

Thanks for your reviews

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

    Pam, My children are almost 11 and 13 and I never sent this review in! I found it sitting here. This is testimony that I am still so blessed by this podcast years later. So here it is: I wrote you an email when I first felt it placed on my heart to homeschool my now 6

  • Love the show!
    by Startup Travis from United States

    Love your content and the guests you have visiting the show! I am a huge believer in using the morning hours well. Thank you for your direction and products!

  • Enjoy the podcast & some thoughts…
    by rufocused from United States

    I enjoy listening to tips on starting and using morning time as I am just starting it this year. We have kind of done it in the past, but when you only have one child you tend to just call it bible, story time, etc… but now that my second one is old enough to join we’re going to have more of a true morning time. I did notice Pam mentioned CNN ten in one episode. CNN can be pretty liberal biased in the main news, I’m not sure if they curb that in the “CNN ten”, but thought I would mention the Daily Wire, which is from a conservative viewpoint (and often covers indoctrination in public schools) and could be fun to compare and contrast with CNN. Our family also recently discovered Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family which has a very Christian perspective, which has been refreshing as news can be so depressing sometimes! Just thought I’d throw that out there… but really do appreciate the perspectives and insights of these women who have been doing this for awhile!

  • Very helpful and pleasant to listen to.
    by Heather homeschooler from United States

    I have listened to many episodes of this podcast and have highly recommended it to others. It has been a wonderful source of inspiration and encouragement. Pam has a great voice and presence and I love that she does not interrupt or talk over her guests. Thank you for your hard work!

  • Always insightful!!
    by method_money from Canada

    Pam always has great great guests who bring great insights and encouragement! I so appreciate her down to earth style and ability to ask great questions! Keep up the great work!!

  • A wildly encouraging and equipping podcast for homeschool families.
    by Eryn Lynum from United States

    As a homeshool mama of four (Ages 2-9), Pam's podcast has been an increidble encouragement to me. Not only that, but I have discovered so many helpful resources for focusing on what is lovely and true during our homeschool days. I love that it is not overwhelming in nature, but instead a gentle help for moving forward one day at a time in our homeschooling adventure.

  • Best podcast for homeschooling/variety of topics
    by Bethetal from United States

    I love this podcast for so many reasons. (1) Pam is friendly, funny, humble and kind (2) She covers a multitude of topics (one at a time)- I have learned about nature notebooks, classical music study, narration, living books, Shakespeare and so much more. Whenever I have a question about a new (to me)HS term or practice, I come here to listen to Pam interview someone about it. Her interviewees have all been all-in on their respective areas of interest/expertise and I love the way she interviews/asks questions to really let the guests shine as they speak. I have changed the structure of my homeschool, found books for my kids and me, purchased materials, and found inspiration due to this podcast and I can’t recommend it enough! This podcast has shaped my homeschool in so many positive ways, most of which I probably can’t even articulate yet, as the changes have been done inside of me. Thanks, Pam!

  • Great!!!
    by Eloblah from United States

    I love the variety of things that are talked about on this show for homeschooling - things that I would never even think about including or doing - with easy ways to do them. Very much recommend this podcast

  • New home schooling mom
    by A prit from United States

    I am listening to the past episodes and loving it. This podcast has helped me develop my own homeschool. So many ideas!! I love morning time so much, we do a nightly family time so my husband and public school attending son. We do all the things instead of watching tv, playing ps4, and YouTube. My kids hang around me every evening asking if we are doing family time. I can tell they love it but don’t want to admit it.

  • Morning Time Magic!
    by DrewSteadman from United States

    I am so excited Pam is back to her morning time focus for 2020. Our homeschool has been shaped by the rich ideas and practical wisdom shared here.

  • Yay! Morning time is back!
    by Homeschooler in Germany from United States

    I was so happy and excited to learn that Pam is shifting her focus back to Morning Time for 2020! I’ve missed the morning time exclusive podcast and can’t wait to hear her back in my earbuds.

  • So excited for 2020!
    by JCrutchf from United States

    I absolutely LOVE this podcast and was so disappointed when I realized you were not actively producing it! I’m NOW relieved to know there is a whole year of episodes ahead! I’m beginning my homeschool journey with 4 little ones very close in age and my style falls somewhere in the Classical and Charlotte Mason. I found your podcast by chance via Instagram recommendation as I was doing research on “morning menus.” Your content is beautifully philosophical but at a level most parents will be able to grasp and appreciate. Filled with truth, beauty, and goodness! Your episodes fill me up and leave me feeling inspired personally and in regards to my children’s education. Everything is so good! Please don’t stop producing ever again! I’ll be grateful forever!

  • So glad Your Morning is back!!!
    by alissajohn2020 from United States

    So glad to have the morning basket podcast back! Thank you for bringing it back!!

  • So good I ran out of gas.
    by JoanieHummel from United States

    This podcast is awesome! It was recommended to me a few years ago by a very wise and experienced homeschool mom but I didn’t start listening until I saw it come up a few more times on Facebook, recommended in various groups (in particular, episode number 41). I wish I had picked it up years ago! So much great information, I’m learning so much! Be careful though, I was so interested listening to this podcast that I didn’t notice how low my gas tank was getting! I ran out of gas and as I write this review I’m stranded on the side of the road waiting for a friend to come rescue me! Happy listening!

  • Knowledge Goldmine
    by A.J. Edwards from United States

    I’ve just been eating up every episode of this brilliant podcast over the past few months. The guests are stellar and Pam’s interview style is wonderful. She gets each guest to the meat and potatoes of their topic but it’s anything but a plain meal. This is a feast for the homeschool mom’s mind. I know I’ll be revisiting many of my favorite episodes again and again. Feeling so inspired by each guest!

  • Myths and fairytale truths for homeschoolers
    by Allierhn from United States

    Mind blown! I’m listening to the myth podcast and it’s absolutely perfect. It is answering so many questions I’ve struggled with my whole life. It helps me to view our curriculum and informs my teaching so much more.

  • Super Helpful!
    by Jennlee C from United States

    I can’t speak highly enough about this podcast. It has been a huge inspiration and a practical help to my homeschool! Thank you so much Pam Barnhill and everyone else who contributes to this. It has been an amazing blessing to me and my children… And possibly generations to come!

  • Practical Inspiration
    by Mamato3activeboys from Australia

    Not only am I inspired by each episode of this podcast but I have actually put so many of the ideas into practice in our own morning time. Such a huge help as I seek to inspire my non-stop boys to truth, goodness and beauty. We are now memorising poetry as they jump on the trampoline and they love Shakespeare. That's a parenting win in my book!

  • So many great ideas!
    by Parent 98765 from Malaysia

    Thank you, Pam! I’m now bursting with inspiration and can’t wait to start our 2019 school year with a strong morning time routine.

  • Joy
    by Ancon76 from United States

    My heart is enriched and I can’t wait to learn more.

  • Just what I was looking for!
    by Joey5176 from United States

    I was looking for morning basket ideas—simple ones. These podcasts are giving me a picture of a good morning basket.

  • Wow!! What amazing nuggets of knowledge
    by HeRo84 from United States

    This is truly life changing information for me as a homeschool mother. Thank you Pam for this amazing series.

  • Love it!
    by s chenvmv from United States

    I love all of Pam’s podcast but this one is prob my favorite. I love to listen to all her guest and see the different ways a morning time can be done

  • Excellent
    by W.A., R.A. Hall from United States

    Love this!

  • Love, love, love this show
    by SarahPMiller from United States

    And I'm not even a homeschooling mother! But I've created a Morning Time for my children nonetheless, and I wouldn't have been inspired to do it -- nor could I have done it -- without this podcast. It's my favorite, and I get something out of every single episode.

  • Wonderful resource!
    by honebubble from United States

    This podcast has changed what I thought I could offer my children, my family and myself... I never would have believed that it would be possible to live a life as so many people actually do. Thank you for these tools and for what you do to help women, teachers, moms and all those on this path. You are amazing and I just can’t get enough, each episode teaches me so much!! Thank you again!

  • A wonderful podcast!
    by NoName2018 from Canada

    Great ideas and interesting guests - thanks Pam!!

  • Insightful, Inspiring, Life-Giving Podcast
    by Mackenziechester from United States

    I love this podcast. It has turned cleaning my kitchen into a really valuable part of my day. There are great tips here for gathering your family together and finding ways to share the things you are passionate about but can never quite find the time to fit in to a typical school day. So many ideas, so many varied topics. Great, inspiring guests. Life-changing podcast. Thanks so much for sharing these ideas!

  • Such great choices of guests
    by andinic from United Kingdom

    This podcast is inspirational for your homeschool plans. Pam Barnhill has a delightful interviewing style and her guests share their insights and enthusiasm for their topics. Among my favourites are the episodes with Cindy Rollins, and Angelina Stanford. Don’t miss this encouraging podcast!

  • Great
    by WifeyKayla from United States

    Some great interviews and very helpful for figuring out the flow of our mornings.

  • Interesting ideas
    by Lisa1932 from Canada

    Just started this podcast. There are some very interesting ideas here on how to create quality time with your children, learning together and focusing on the things that are most important in life. Great hearing other moms' stories too.

  • WARNING: This podcast will revolutionize your homeschool!
    by JoysTeacher from United States

    Honestly, I started listening to this podcast because I had run out of other homeschool podcasts to listen. I really didn't think we needed a morning time! I homeschool one teen daughter and I thought the concept was too "baby" for us. WOW! I was completely wrong!! We needed a morning time, and it has changed the climate and the productivity of our homeschool. The habit was so important to us, we still do morning time when we are one break. (And neither of us is a "morning" person). Pam is an talented interviewer and will not waste your time (her time is precious, too)!

  • Excellent!
    by Jodylleigh from United States

    I'm really enjoying the ideas and tips Pam bring up in this podcast!

  • Truly an inspiration!
    by Soaring2him from United States

    I have started a morning basket just because of listening to this podcast. Pam sold me on the beauty of having a morning basket. I love all of the ideas I've gleaned from listening and I've implemented many of the ideas I have heard about through this podcast. It's really helped simplify some things in our homeschool day!

  • Easy to listen too, incredibly practical
    by HarrisFamily0323 from United States

    I really enjoy Your Morning Basket. Pam is a great host and I have taken away many practical ideas and had many unrealistic expectations corrected. I don't listen to all the episodes, but the ones I've thought were pertinent to my needs and have been able to apply something helpful to our homeschool. Thanks Pam!

  • So helpful for this new homeschooling mom
    by klund08 from United States

    I'm planning our first homeschool year and have really enjoyed this podcast! The interviews are great and I enjoy hearing from different homeschooling moms and how things work in their family. I'm excited to start Morning Time with my kids!

  • 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!

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  • Elizabeth Hafferty says:

    You ask such good questions. It makes for great discussion. I enjoyed it, and it gave me lots to”chew on”. Thanks!

    • Dawn says:

      I agree! Pam is personable and asks great questions – perfect for a podcaster. This was a very chewy episode! -Dawn, Community Care Coordinator

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