YMB#30 Tension in Morning TimePin
Pinterest Hidden Image

You know you love Morning Time but there is something that pulls at you each time you sit down to do it — especially if your time is short or your day hasn’t gone exactly according to plan. We are often faced with the temptation to skip the true, good, and beautiful so we can get on with the “real” learning — the math, handwriting, and science. But why?

Join Jennifer Dow and me as we talk about this tension that so many of us feel. In this conversation we discuss that and the meaning of real education.

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 30 of the Your Morning Basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I’m so happy that you are joining me here today. Well, you might have noticed that the name of this episode is Tension in Morning Time and no, we’re not really talking about the tension from your kids squabbling with each other, though if your Morning Time is anything like mine, it happens quite a bit. Instead, we’re actually talking about the tension that arises within ourselves as homeschooling mothers. Many of us were brought up in the public school system with a more utilitarian view of education and I know, for myself, and other moms I’ve spoken with, sometimes there is a tension between doing Morning Time and these other subjects that we feel we need to be checking off our list each day. And so our guest today is Jennifer Dow and she is from The Expanding Wisdom blog and she writes a lot about classical education and I thought she was a great person to speak to us about the learning that we do in Morning Time versus or even in addition to or how it’s different from the learning we do at other times of day to maybe help relieve some of this tension that we might be feeling within ourselves about this different kind of learning or at least to discuss it a little bit and see maybe why it’s there. So I think you’re really going to enjoy this conversation and we’ll get on with it right after this word from our sponsor.
This episode of the Your Morning Basket podcast is
brought to you by Maestro Classics. Would you like to
bring classical music into your children’s lives? You can
add classical music to your Morning Time today with
Maestro Classics. These award winning CDs and MP3s
feature story tellers Yadu and Jim Weiss, accompanied
by the world famous London Philharmonic Orchestra.
Choose from a dozen titles including Peter and the
Wolf, The Nutcracker, and one of the Barnhill family
favorites The Story of Swan Lake. What makes
maestro classics CDs so special is that each CD and
MP3 contains a 24 page activity book with
illustrations, puzzles, games, and fun facts for kids.
You can download free curriculum guides that
combine classical music with science, math,
geography, and other subjects. All CD and MP3 sets
include tracks which explain to your children how the
music was made, who the composer was, the history
and story behind the music, the instruments used by
the orchestra, and most importantly how to open your
ears and really listen. Listening is a learned art and
Maestro Classics guarantees that these recordings will
explain and develop listening skills in your children.
Visit MaestroClassics.com for free shipping on all CDs
and MP3s. They start at just $9.98. As a Your Morning
Basket listener, you can receive 17% off your order by
using coupon code Pam at checkout. Go to
www.MaestroClassics.com, where the best classical
music curriculum awaits your homeschool. And now,
on with the podcast.
Jennifer Dow is a homeschooling mom of three, a
Circe certified classical teacher, and the co-host of the
classical homeschool podcast. Jennifer feeds her own
soul on truth, goodness, and beauty through her love
of literature, fine arts, church history, and Greek
philosophy. And she strives to equip other moms to
seek after the true, the good, and the beautiful as
well. At her blog, Expanding Wisdom, she explores
the idea that education is all about growth in wisdom
and virtue and she offers support for like-minded
parents, including her five elements of classical
homeschooling online course for moms. Jennifer joins
us on this episode of the podcast to shed some light
on a thought-provoking question: how do we handle
the pull between doing Morning Time and spending
time on other more traditional school subjects?
Jennifer, welcome to the program.
Jennifer: Thanks Pam, I’m happy to be here.
Pam: Well, let’s start off just setting the stage a little
bit. So you tell me a little bit about what your
particular Morning Time looks like in your home.
Jennifer: OK, sounds great. So, when we have
Morning Time (I was a little —- announcing that
because I’m like “I’m going on the Morning Basket
Show and sometimes I feel like I’m not the best
example of Morning Time because sometimes we
don’t do it. So, when we do do it, and I guess we’ll
talk more a little bit later some of the reasons why on
mornings we choose not to and mornings we choose
to do it, but we focus on our prayers, and then our
daily Bible reading, and if we’re memorizing
something we might do that together. And then
there’s a book that we read that is a part of our church
tradition that is kind of like teaching stories and stuff
from our Christian tradition, and then we do a loop for
the other things that we do. So on Monday there’s a
couple of things that we read and then Tuesday … do
you want to know which specific things we do?
Pam: Sure, throw that out there for us. I think
everybody will be curious as to what’s in your Morning
Time. So what are those things you read?
Jennifer: So on Monday we read a science biography,
a living book science biography. Actually, one of our
favorite books this year is Mendeleyev (it’s a Russian
name) I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing it right and it’s a
fascinating tale of his life. He’s the one who
discovered the periodic table. So we read that
together and then there’s another book (we do our
science together – so that’s one of the reasons we do
a lot of science reading in the morning together
because we’re all pretty much doing the same thing,
except for my littlest one). And then the other science
book is called The Periodic Table and it’s another story
of the periodic table and the elements and that sort of
thing. Then on Tuesday we do our artist and
composer study and in our homeschool community
they do a lot of that there, so really I’m just
introducing if we have a new painting that we’re beginning to look at or a new artist that we’re
beginning to look at. I’ll introduce them. And then we
also do our classical studies. And for us that means
Plutarch or sometimes Mythology, or Greek Myth.
Now, we’re not reading all that at the same time but
one at a time. So right now we’re doing Plutarch. And
then on Tuesday we also do a weather journal
together. So we record the weather and add them to
lists. So they may have a list first. That’s pretty much
the only list. I told them they could choose more than
one if they wanted but they all chose just one. So they
add things to that. Then on Thursday there’s a second
science bio that we read and then nature law, so
almost like fables of nature. I don’t know how else to
describe nature law. Kind of like the people from A
Delectable Education describe it as the things that
awaken your senses to see more of nature. So stories
that do that. Some sort of nature law. Then on Friday
we read our geography book, which is another one of
our favorites, called The Book of Marvels by
Halliburton. And it took me four months to find a copy
but we love it. It just paints this picture. We’re
studying modern times this year so this geography
book has all these wonderful places from all around
the United States; things that would be considered
more in modern times and it just helps you
experience them and it’s lovely. It’s one of our
favorites, we love it. And then [**Inaudible 8:14**]
happen. So that’s all our science readings. And that’s
what we do on the loop.
Pam: OK, I want to go back and pick apart a couple
of things you said. Or get more details, not
necessarily pick apart. So the list of firsts you were
talking about, that’s actually a Charlotte Mason
practice where … tell us a little bit more about what a
list of firsts is that you were referring to.
Jennifer: So a list of firsts, now I haven’t studied it as
deeply as maybe some other people so if I’m not
giving the whole picture but according to my current
understanding it is a list of first things that you see or
encounter. The way I’ve heard it talked about the
most is when you’re experiencing the year, think
about it kind of in context of the seasons, when you’re experiencing the year within the seasons what is the
first day of the year that you see a flower bloom, or
the first frost of the year, or the first night that you go
to bed when it’s still light out; any firsts that
specifically related to seasons and what is happening
in our created world.
Pam: OK, so this is kind of a nature journal. And I
think I’m going to refer people to The Living Page –
Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie
Bestevater because I’m pretty sure she covers the List
of Firsts in that particular book and so you can
probably utilize Google for that as well. And then you
said nature law. Do you have a specific book that
you’re reading for nature law on Thursdays?
Jennifer: Right now we are reading School of Woods.
Pam: OK. School of Woods? OK, great. So that gives
us a lot of great resources to put in the Show Notes
for everybody who is really interested in the books
that you were talking about specifically they can go
look them up. So we’ll put those in the Show Notes
for them. OK, so now I want to dig down into this
“Why don’t you do Morning Time all the time?” thing
and honestly, I’m going to admit, too, we go through
seasons where it’s hard for us to do Morning Time
consistently every day. So, even me, sometimes I go
through a season where we might go a week and we
haven’t done Morning Time and like you, I’m very
much kicking myself, going ‘OK, we’ve got to get
back into doing this.’ So, let’s talk about this, about
the struggle. Why does Morning Time sometimes get
pushed aside?
Jennifer: Well, I think there are a lot of reasons.
Sometimes it can be my own issues, sometimes I’m
being lazy and I don’t want to get up, and my bed is
just really, really comfortable – I just don’t want to get
out of bed. So then when I get up I feel rushed, I’m
like ‘Oh gosh, just do the other stuff,’ so sometimes
it’s my own issue. Sometimes I wonder if it’s always my
own issue, because even when it’s my kids issue,
sometimes I respond well and sometimes I don’t. And
so sometimes the mornings where they’re not feeling
‘it’ sometimes I’m like, ‘Oh well, I guess I don’t want
to deal with pulling you guys through this’ or really,
just kind of, I don’t feel like it. So there’s a lot of times
where it’s like that, it’s my own inadequacy, my own
issue that really I just need to pull up my bootstraps
and handle it. Other times, it could be a season – I
went through a season where I was just having some
health problems. There were some physical things
going on and it was harder for me to have enough
energy to do everything during the day and so I let
them just start at their independent work, and we had
conversation throughout the day of the Morning Time
kinds of things that we would read that cultivated
more discussion and stuff like that, we would do
throughout the day but it wasn’t like everyone’s
together in the morning. It was easier to just plan
tutoring time with people one-on-one to do that kind
of stuff. And that’s another thing, sometimes we’re
going through a season where the kids just fight a lot
and they need some base, they need me one-on-one,
they need to not be comparing themselves to each
other, and they just need to have a discussion with
mom, and so that’s another reason. I think there’s a lot
of reasons, like I said, sometimes it’s me, sometimes
it’s my kids. Sometimes it’s a season, sometimes it’s a
Pam: So a couple of things to point out. First of all,
you have a community that you participate in once a
week, and we do too, and so I wonder if (obviously,
not every day) but our kids are getting this big
community day where they’re spending, kind of, the
entire day and one of the things we focus on in our
community is the subjects we put in our community
are subjects that are best done in community.
Jennifer: I was thinking the same thing when I was
thinking about our discussion coming up is the kinds
of things that I do choose are my main filters- what
can be done communally, what do we want to do
together. We have Wednesdays that we do that all
day. I wondered when I was thinking about it if I don’t
feel as much pressure to do Morning Time because
we have that Wednesday and I was thinking maybe that is part of it, too. I hadn’t had that thought until I
was contemplating the questions you had given me.
Pam: I think so too. We know we’ve got that built in
community day. But let’s get back to this tension that I
hear you talking about and I struggle with this too.
And I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on
what it is. We know Morning Time is a lovely and
wonderful thing, generally. Obviously we have kids
who are fighting or whatever, we know it’s a generally
a wonderful and lovely thing and we know that it’s
where the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty is in home
school so when we wake up late or we’re tired or
we’re just a little frazzled and we put both things up
for a choice- Morning Time verses traditional subjects,
why do you think it is that many times we, and home
school moms in general, choose the tradition subjects
over the Morning Time despite the fact that they
know that the Truth, Goodness, and Beauty is in the
Morning Time.
Jennifer: I have two thoughts. One is I don’t view the
other things they do throughout the day as not having
Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, I view all of it as having
that. But I do hear what you’re saying about the things
that are going to be independent work where we’re
not discussing the communal things. And for me, the
main reason is because they can go and do it without
the community. They can go start working on their
math or whatever the things that are scheduled for
them to do after Morning Time, they’re not
dependent on me to show up and be on point, or
they’re not dependent on their sister or their brother
to stop dealing with whatever they’re dealing with so
they can be on point. There’s not that extra element
of struggle. So that is the primary reason when I’m
like, ‘OK, everyone go ahead, but we’re not going to
deal with that today, we’re not going to deal with
trying to get everyone on the same because when I
wake up frazzled that spills over into atmosphere and
they are more frazzled and I know it’s going to be
harder when I am an exuding that kind of charisma.
No, it wouldn’t be charisma, you know what I’m
Pam: Attitude, yeah. OK, so let’s talk about me for a
minute. Enough about you, Jennifer! My youngest is 7
and so he’s obviously still doing phonics, still trying to
learn how to read, he’s just you’re average 7 year old,
he’s still ‘mommy’s got to sit beside him to help push
him through the math lesson.’ I can’t give it to him
and say, “Go off and do this by yourself.” He’s still,
very much, what Susan Wise Bauer would call ‘at
elbow’ and then I’ve got a 9 year old struggling
reader. So there is no way that when I choose to do
independent seat work over Morning Time, there’s no
way that it’s because it takes less work on my part. So
why do you think somebody like me struggles with
making that? Why do I choose to go toward those
academic subjects as opposed to the Morning Time?
Jennifer: Oh, I see what you’re saying.
Pam: But even though I love what you said about the
fact that you don’t think the academic subjects are
absent of truth, goodness, and beauty, and I do want
to unpack that in a few minutes, but just in general,
why do you think somebody like me (who’s got to be
there anyway), why do I feel more of a pull toward
those academic things as opposed to the Morning
Times things?
Jennifer: My initial inclination is that it’s a lot to do
with the culture that we are in. We’re in the postmodern time period, I guess you could say, and things
are very utilitarian. So the atmosphere that our culture
kind of sends out is ‘tell me the purpose of that? How
is it useful?’ and so the language that we use to name
things “useful” aligns more with knowing how to add
and knowing how to read as opposed to what the
ancients would call useful and they may or may not
have had that term but knowing what is good and
having a sense for that and aligning yourself with that.
So , I like the classical tradition, that’s my thing, and a
lot of it is the ancients, the tradition that’s been
handed down and so one of the things I study and
people who are into the classical traditions study is
how is the ancients actually think about education and
how is that different than my own? And I think that is a big part of it, is that when we think about education in
modern terms “what is useful?” is very different than
what is useful in long ago, and for a long time. This
wasn’t just like for 200 years people thought this, this
was for over 1,000 years up until really the
enlightenment, that people had a very different idea
about what was useful.
Pam: OK, and the things that those people for
thousands of years though were useful are generally
the things that are typically more in a Morning Time
setting in a lot of homeschools?
Jennifer: Yeah, the stories. Coming to terms with
matters of conscience- what is right, what is good?
And aligning yourself as a human. If you learn that
something is good then trying to live that out, that
was infinitely, yes, knowing the numbers and stages,
yes, of course, we’re going to get that along the way
but our focus is on the other thing so they gave
themselves the leisure time to press into those other
things and trusted that the other stuff would come.
They didn’t forsake it, they just knew it was part of it.
They didn’t feel a need to micromanage it.
Pam: Oh yeah! OK, so that’s really interesting. And
they also didn’t view education as something that was
completed in the first 18 years of life and then
Jennifer: No.
Pam: So when you think about Plato talking about an
educated man he was talking about somebody who
was learning well into their 30’s and 40’s and honestly
even the life span at that time that was pretty much
their whole life.
Jennifer: In fact, Aristotle would say someone
shouldn’t even begin studying philosophy until he was
35 or 40.
Pam: Right.
Jennifer: So there were some things that just
traditionally you didn’t even begin studying until you
were older.
Pam: So a lot of times we think about the things that
we put in Morning Time as being, kind of, dessert. Is
there a justification for serving ‘this dessert’ first?
Jennifer: Well, it’s good and yummy, so yeah!
Pam: OK, but as a mom I typically say we’re not going
to eat dessert first, we’re going to eat our vegetables
Jennifer: I think it goes
back to what I said
before. I see it all as
dessert, I see it all as
having Truth,
Goodness, and Beauty.
I know that’s different
than some people
think about it, so let
me think about when I
was first learning about
all this stuff, I felt the
same way. I remember
feeling that way. And
what I learned that
helped me embrace it
was that it ushered in
an atmosphere and an
orientation of the heart for learning that made me
more open and receptive to everything else that I
would learn for the day. So it set a tone that actually
made more learning possible.
Pam: So it wasn’t just the content of your Morning
Time that was important, even though it is – it
obviously is, but it was also the practice of the
Morning Time that in turn made the process of
learning in the rest of your day better?
Jennifer: Absolutely, absolutely. Pam: Why do you think that is?
Jennifer: Well, for us we practice a Christian tradition,
so one of the things I have learned over the course of
practicing my faith is that the days that I begin (so I
think of the spiritual things when we see ourselves
more than just material beings that there is this
spiritual side to us and that plays a real role in how we
do during the day) when we start our day with those
things it’s a mystery that I don’t think I can explain, it’s
something that just is. The days I decide to pray and
spend some time in the Word and my kids do that
there is a noticeable difference in how we handle
conflict and how easily we repent and forgive and that
makes all the difference, because really, all learning is
repentive. You constantly think, ‘Oh, I don’t know this,
I need to learn this over and over again. That’s very
much what repentance is like, so you’re practicing that
in the morning and then it carries through during the
day. But if we start the day closed off it, kind of, sets a
pattern where we’re saying, “I’m closed off. I’m not
going to be teachable today.” And so it makes a
difference. There will be days that we don’t do any of
the loop stuff and the only thing we do is our prayers
and Bible reading. And most of the time if we aren’t
doing Morning Time, for the most part, at least we’ll
do our prayers just because it makes such a
Pam: Well, this brings to mind- Karen Glass talks
about in her book, Consider This that in order to be
educated you have to be humble. So just with you
talking about this I wonder if humbling ourselves
before God in prayer and petition in Morning Time is
what allows us to humble ourselves to be more
receptive to learning later in the day.
Jennifer: I would agree with that for sure.
Pam: I think so. Alright, well, what about if you have a
family that has been really focusing on schooling
traditional subjects most of the day and maybe
they’ve stumbled upon the podcast and this is the first
one they’re listening to. What do you think Morning
Time subjects have to offer a family who has been just
focusing on phonics and mathematics and I do want
to point out that we actually dug into the fact on this
show a number of different times that there is beauty
and truth and goodness in mathematics and so just
elementary computation, long division kinds of things,
for families who are really focusing on those kinds of
things, reading maybe historical fiction, doing science
in a textbook and they’re kind of intrigued by this
idea, what do you think the Morning Time subjects
have to offer them?
Jennifer: For me it’s not
so much the content of,
kind of what you just said,
I think the primary thing it
has to offer immediately is
it shows us how even in a
school subject or school
work that we are tied to
the community, because
we learn what we think
about reality by what we
live out. When we’re
spending our day doing
the traditional subjects, usually it looks like everyone
has their thing that they’re doing and they’re doing it
individually, and I don’t think any of us would ever say
that ‘Oh, everything’s all disconnected’ we
immediately see that as a family we’re connected. I
think that’s one of the reasons we homeschool. What’s
so cool about Morning Time is the practice of it also
then communicates that, so that it even lays a
stronger foundation for that Truth that we are
connected to each other and there’s certain things
that cause us to thrive when we do them in
community more than they could have had we done
them alone. So I think that’s the first thing that
Morning Time does- is that it ties us to the
community, to our family, and our first community is
our family. It shows us how much we actually need
each other because we have these discussions, we
see everyone’s insight, we see that it’s not just what I
think, it’s also what you think, and wow, that’s really
great, that can help me grow too. I mean, I know my
kids aren’t necessarily saying that but it does present a pattern that cultivates that belief about life and over
time that would be a part of them.
Pam: So it’s not necessarily the subject that you’re
discussing but the fact that you’re having that
discussion that is the important thing.
Jennifer: Yeah. And there are certain subjects that are
better suited for that. There is a place to talk about
content but I think the primary benefit is this- what I
just said- about the communal aspect of it.
Pam: So for somebody who might be questioning,
might be mulling this over, contemplating as you
would say, this in their mind right now, let’s give them
an example. What would be a subject that would be
better done in community because we’ve alluded to
that a couple of times in this podcast?
Jennifer: Definitely anything related to your Christian
tradition that you’re practicing. We come together at
church to worship together in whatever way each of
our families does that that in its very core is
communal. So I think that, if nothing else, is the first
thing. And then anything that’s story-like. There may
be a lot of questions. One of the books that we use
that teaches the rudiments of our Christian faith
there’s a section of reading and there’s stories and
some questions and we talk about them and then
every single one of them has so much to say and so
many questions and so many thoughts and sometimes
I have to cut it off. I’m like, ‘Now I actually have to go
do math’ but it’s those kinds of things that they’re
curiosity is sparked. Other things that would fall into
that would be stories especially fantasy and fairytales
that enchant everyone. So by fantasy I mean Narnia or
Lord of the Rings if they’re really little even Beatrix
Potter – some people would call Beatrix Potter on the
verge of fantasy. All those children’s books that you
get caught up in the story.
Pam: So all of those are some really great ideas and I
love that. So anything basically which is crying out for
a discussion. And a lot of times I find that if we open
the floor and give the kids the opportunity to ask
questions in this safe place and to talk and to express
their ideas and sometimes building a safe place with
siblings can take a little work to have a safe place to
express ideas but they really do open up and have a
lot to say in those situations.
Jennifer: Yeah, And you know the first thing I think for
that is I will openly confess to my kids, not
inappropriate stuff of things they don’t need to know
about but, I’m like, “Man, I’m the first one whenever
I’m the first one to say “I’ve fallen short here, I’m so
sorry, will you forgive me?” it automatically puts them
in a spot where they’re more forgiving. So I think the
mom definitely has such a powerful position of being
able to lead that in what she does its beyond what we
can actually put language to, at least I can’t, it’s very
powerful though.
Pam: So definitely very much modeling the kinds of
behaviors that you want them to exhibit as you’re
carrying out this discussion and having this communal
Jennifer: Absolutely.
Pam: Can there ever be such a thing as too much
Morning Time?
Jennifer: Well, what do you mean by that? Take too
Pam: Let me pull into the next question which is if you
have a student who’s struggling academically do you
think it’s hard to justify the time spent on Morning
Time even in the case of a child who needs intensive
and often time-consuming help in another area, say
like learning to read or a lot of times us homeschool
moms worry about being a couple of years behind in
math or something of that nature?
Jennifer: I think that’s a hard question to answer
without knowing if there’s a certain person asking that
because my first question would be, if I was talking to
an individual, well, how much time are you spending
in these other things that make you feel like you don’t
have time for this? Because I think it could be a lot of
things. So I would be more interested first asking
questions about that or if maybe they haven’t thought
through how to schedule their day, maybe it’s a time
management kind of thing. Or maybe they’re so
scared that even though really they have enough time
to, sometimes when we’re afraid we let ourselves
think that things are harder than they are or more
consuming than they are, and I experience this
frequently when I’m overwhelmed and I won’t check
my email because it’s like I’ve convinced myself it will
take 5 hours and it will take 25 minutes but I won’t, I
keep procrastinating, because I’m convinced it’s going
to take 5 hours and I just don’t have time for that. But
if I just do it it’s like that wasn’t so bad. I think we do
that a lot when we get emotional about things and
when our kids are struggling, man, do we get
emotional. I mean, we’re homeschool moms. We’re
responsible for their education, we are really worried
about that. So I think really identifying why we feel
that way is the first most important thing because I
think we’ve already talked about the benefit of it
which extends to also somebody who also is
struggling. I don’t think any of us would say because
my kid is struggling in math they shouldn’t have these
nurturing discussion rich times. None of us would say
that. In fact, many of us homeschool because modern
public schools would say your kid doesn’t get art
because they’re struggling with reading- we don’t like
that, we think that’s ridiculous, so I don’t think any of
us wouldn’t believe it would be beneficial for them, I
think it has to do with our emotional responses and
maybe in this certain cases, time management skills.
And I could be wrong but that has been my
experience with myself and also with my friends as
we’ve worked together to try to implement these
Pam: I love that answer. I love that answer – that you
need to look at what emotions you have about the
situation, because you’re right, we so often do, and
see if that’s somehow clouding our perception of how
much time we’re spending on something like that.
And I think it’s important to point out that if you have
a child who’s struggling with reading I don’t think
there’s any better way to convey the beauty of reading
and build a desire for reading than to actually sit there
and read copious amounts of literature, good stories,
good information like these fascinating science
biographies that you’re talking about or the science
law, the nature law that you love, the geography book
that you really, really like and you think is really cool,
and I’m thinking about a 9 or 10 year old boy who’s
struggling with reading and he gets to dive into that
geography book through you and that Morning Time
each week, I don’t think there’s anything really better
you could do for a kid than to build that love of
Jennifer: Absolutely. And every person who talks
about reading they say that the student should be
given things to read that are in front of them that are
challenging but then they should be read things that
are above their reading level so on a very practical
level, the most practical level we could talk about, it
actually will help them read better by reading them
things that are above their reading level, it is doing
that work, I think there’s a release of tension there.
Yes, you’re doing all these beautiful things and as
icing on the cake this is actually part of their reading
instruction as well.
Pam: And I think that’s a really fascinating way to look
at it, is that this is probably one of the best things you
can do. And we do get stuck, and I keep going back
to we do get stuck in that in some of the paradigms of
public education that every little child has to be sitting
in their seat, working on their own worksheet, keeping
their eyes on their own paper, or it’s not real learning.
Jennifer: I think it has to do with visually seeing the
fruit versus not visually seeing the fruit that is the
struggle, and I think that’s just a human struggle. Just
think about our sanctification journey – it may be
years before it actually exhibit fruit that the Lord is
trying to cultivate in me. Years. But then one day I
exhibit it. Or a better example: my kids. I’m training
them, I think they don’t listen to me and then one day
say something and I’m like, wow, my child just said
that? And I just want to cry. But it was years, it wasyears. And I think we compartmentalize academics
and that somehow academics is supposed to show
fruit immediately and that’s not necessarily true. It also
is the kind of thing that takes years to produce fruit,
but when we do a worksheet I think we tell ourselves
that this is fruit, we have accomplished “this”
worksheet but that may or may not be the case. So I
see what you’re saying now, and I completely agree
with you.
Pam: I think you’ve hit the nail on the head right there
– is so much of the stuff in Morning Time doesn’t
produce an immediate result, something tangible that
we can three-hole punch and stick in a binder and pull
out and show grandma or whatever the case may be
but so much of Morning Time goes back to what
Cindy Rollins says: Morning Time’s for the long haul.
You’re going to see the fruit of a lot of what you do in
Morning Time 10 or 15 years down the road not
immediately. I think that’s one of the reasons why it’s
such a struggle- to prioritize it above some of these
other things where even though, and I think we fool
ourselves into thinking that this [whatever our child
has just produced] is real fruit but I don’t think it is, I
don’t think it’s real food.
Jennifer: I love the way you said it, is what is
learning? And I think as homeschool moms who are
teaching our children that is a really important
question to wrestle with. It may take a long time to
feel like we’re even coming close to an answer. I think
that that is super important each of us wrestling with
what is learning, what is it really? And maybe many of
us it hasn’t even dawned on us to ask that question
and I think it may change everything if we each
wrestle with that question.
Pam: Yeah, I agree.
Well, Jennifer, as always, whenever I talk to you I am
absolutely fascinated by the conversation and I’m left
with so many things to think about when we’re done,
but just thank you so much for coming on here. What’s
a final message we can send to moms who might be
struggling with this tension between Morning Time
and other subjects? Is there a final bit of advice that
you might want to give to them?
Jennifer: I think two parts. First that any practice
whether it be Morning Time or anything else we are
not meant to be slaves to, it is a practice to help us to
do these things that we are wanting to do and
cultivate these things that we want to cultivate. The
minute we feel enslaved to it the minute it’s going to
become something it was never meant to become.
And I think the other thing is that our world is full of
tension. We have to become OK with living in a
tension. It is always a tension between the real and
the ideal, we cannot escape that on this side of
eternity, it’s not possible. So there’s a fence we just
have to become comfortable with that. And
sometimes we’re in seasons where we need to give
grace for the real and sometimes we’re in seasons
where we need to say “OK, now is the time to take a
step toward the ideal” and we’re always coming to
judge which one that is, and sometimes we might
judge well and sometimes we might not judge well,
but either way we continue pressing in. So that would
be my encouragement- to continue pressing in with
these things in mind. This is not something to be
enslaved to and we are living in a tension and maybe
it’s worth it to keep pressing in, absolutely worth it.
Pam: It’s worth it to put up with that tension because
the fruit in the long run. Well, thank you so much for
being here with me today, I really appreciate it. Hey,
Jennifer, tell everybody again where they can find you
Jennifer: Well, I blog at ExpandingWisdom.com and I
also have a podcast with my friend, Ashley Woleben,
The Classical Homeschool Podcast then that’s on all
the normal podcast and things, so that’s where we
Pam: So, look for that, in iTunes and Stitcher.
Jennifer: Yeah.
Pam: Alright, well thank you very much.
Jennifer: Thank you. Pam: And there you have it. Now, if you would like
links to any of the books and resources that Jennifer
and I spoke about today you can find them on the
Show Notes for this episode. And those are at
PamBarnhill.com/YMB30, if you head over there we
will set you up and connect you with exactly what you
need. Also on the Show Notes for this episode are
some directions there just in case you would like to
leave a rating or review for the Your Morning Basket
podcast in iTunes. The ratings and reviews you leave
in iTunes really help us get the word out about the
podcast to new listeners and we very much appreciate
you taking the time to do that. We’ll be back in
another couple of weeks with another great Morning
Time interview and until then keep seeking Truth,
Goodness, and Beauty in your homeschool day.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

Plutarch's Lives (Modern Library Classics)PinPlutarch’s Lives (Modern Library Classics)The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte MasonPinThe Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte MasonSchool of the WoodsPinSchool of the WoodsMendeleyev and his periodic tablePinMendeleyev and his periodic tableThe Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library)PinThe Mystery of the Periodic Table (Living History Library)Complete Book Of MarvelsPinComplete Book Of Marvels


Key Ideas about Tension in Morning Time

  • Morning Time is an opportunity to nurture humility, grace, and a heart attitude of being willing to learn. During Morning Time, we practice being part of a community as we come together with our first community, the family.
  • Family circumstances, academic struggles, sibling discord, busyness, and even laziness can all contrive to leave us reaching for a stack of worksheets rather than a basket of books. We must ask ourselves what true learning is, and patiently seek after the long-term fruits of education, rather than the short-term satisfaction of a completed checklist.
  • Tension is an inevitable part of life. Our homeschool days may not look much like what we grew up thinking school should look like. We wonder if we’re on the right track and worry about getting behind. We have lofty plans, but have to reconcile those plans with the realities of everyday life. As we move through different stages of homeschooling and family life, we need to be able to cope with and respond to these tensions, making adjustments as needed and persevering with what we know is worthwhile for our families.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • [4:40] Jennifer’s Morning Time
  • [10:12] why Morning Time doesn’t happen every day
  • [14:35] traditional schoolwork vs. Morning Time
  • [17:10] utilitarian view of education contrasted with classical view
  • [20:07] Morning Time sets the tone for learning
  • [22:56] education and humility
  • [24:16] learning to be part of a community
  • [34:03] the fruit of education
  • [36:00] asking ourselves, “What is learning?”
  • [36:57] not being a slave to Morning Time (or anything else)
  • [37:22] being comfortable with tension; reconciling “the real” with “the ideal”