YMB #47 Morning Time and the Only Child: A Conversation with Tina Roman

It’s a question we get asked often and it is a good one: How do I do Morning Time when I have just one child? How do I keep it from looking like the rest of my school day? Today Tina Roman, mom of one, is here on the show to talk to us about what Morning Time looks like in her home. Hint: It’s not as quiet as you might think it would be. Enjoy!

Links and resources from today’s show:

Start Here: A Journey Through Charlotte Mason's 20 PrinciplesPinStart Here: A Journey Through Charlotte Mason’s 20 PrinciplesThe Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte MasonPinThe Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte Mason


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 47 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, this request has come up so many times for the, your morning basket podcast. Moms want to know how do you do morning, time with an only child. If you’ve just got one, what does your morning time look like? And so we have one of our morning time moms on today, Tina Roman. She has an only child and she’s going to be answering some of those questions for us. We’re going to be talking about what her morning time looks like.
Some of the best things about doing morning time with the an only child. And then what are some of the challenges? Because believe it or not, she has those too. So we’ll get on with that conversation right after this word from our sponsor.

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Tina Roman worked as an RN for nine years before having her only son. After struggles in early elementary school, her family decided that homeschooling was the best choice for them. Now they have been homeschooling for two years and are seriously considering going all the way through high school. Tina and her son follow a Charlotte Mason classical approach and have been doing morning time since the very beginning. She loves to tell people that homeschooling was the best decision her family was forced to make. Tina welcome to the program.
Thank you.
Well, we are going to be talking today. We have had this requested so many times, and so I'm glad to finally be able to bring this information to the people who have wanted it. We're going to be talking about doing morning time with an only child. So you didn't realize how in demand you were. Did you? Lots of people want this information.
So tell us a little bit about what mourning time looks like in your house right now.
Morning time is a hodgepodge right now? We do. We have our stuff that we do daily, and then we have our, our loop stuff. So daily, we'll start with Bible and some memory work, and then we'll move into our loops, which will include art, art appreciation, music appreciation, everything else, read aloud, our family read aloud we have in there. So we have a number of things that we work in.
Okay. So I think one of the biggest questions that people struggle with, especially if they're new to the morning time thing, and they have an only child, is how do they make morning time with an only child looked different than the rest of the school day? What are some of the things that set your morning time apart?
Well, I know for this year, we really wanted to focus on what we call the riches. And we wanted that separate from our main three, you know, your math, your reading, your writing for us. And again, because it's just me and my son, we needed something that we were going to work together. He is very extroverted. So our morning time for us, let me see. We focused on really learning together, I should say is what I'm looking for.
Okay. So you're learning alongside him.
Yeah. Yeah. As we started this whole journey, I realized there were so many things that I didn't learn from my own public school education that I wanted him to really be able to take advantage of. So it really worked for both of us. We both get to learn.
Okay. So I'm seeing a separation in your day that the morning time things are the things that you both can learn alongside each other together kind of as co-learners, whereas the other kind of the three RS part of the day, those are things that you did get in your education, you know, how to do the long division and the multiplication and you know, the reading and writing and all of that stuff. And so it really separates out with all of the other things, doesn't it?
Yes, it does. It really does. I mean, I know and in a straight Charlotte Mason school day they sort of integrate everything as the day goes through.
I really enjoyed separating it because, with us, we do a little bit each day and we have our daily stuff, like I said, but with each day we get to do something new or something's fun. We even incorporate games sometimes. And it's just something that it's really our together time where he's reading, writing and math, because he's always been so good at it.
Those are more, he does individually and I'm just there to check it. But the other stuff is the things that we get to do together that we get to get better at together.
I love that. What do you think are some of the benefits, some of the best things about doing morning time with an only child?
The best things I would say. I mean, I knew him before. I knew him before, when he was little, you know, we spend every day together. And when I was sending him off to school, I felt like I was missing this big chunk of the day that I didn't get to have with him anymore. And now we have that back. We really get to spend our time together.
I can't put more of an emphasis on it is the fact that we really get to, there’s ups and downs, but we get that time together.
Well, you know, as somebody who has three children doing morning time, I can imagine that it's a lot easier to keep everybody quiet when it's time to do morning, time.
You would think so. I'm not so sure. I'm the quiet one. He is not. There's times where I have to say, okay. And can you just lower the volume of your voice? It's just the two of us, but he is a very loud and active kid. So you would think so I'm still not so sure on that. Sometimes he makes enough noise for four and five kids.
That's funny, but, you know, and, and so that's the perception that somebody with a lot of kids would have is that, Oh, her morning time has to be really simple and easy because it's just the two of them. But you still struggle with a lot of the same struggles that other moms do who are doing morning time, don't you?
Absolutely. I mean, I would say the only easy thing is I'm only trying to figure out one child and how to navigate those ups and downs as opposed to three or four, but you still have to learn how to navigate it.
Yeah, yeah. I can imagine so well, as you're doing your morning time, is it just the two of you sitting around the table? Are you sitting on the couch? Is he busy with his hands doing other things? What is it look like in the physical space?
We have a small apartment. So we have our living room where we are on the couch and we have a foldable table. It's a 2x4 foot folding table, and we can open that up and spread out all of our stuff that we're doing. I like to have everything in easy reach because he's still extroverted and he'll lose track in an instant. I found that if I don't have everything within easy reach, I'll lose him. And then to get him back is crazy. It's just crazy
So having everything right there together. And then, you know, at your couch and little folding table, do you separate that time of day with some kind of opening or closing to kind of put ends on it and make it more distinct from the rest of your day?
Yes. To start our day, we used to start with, he really likes Chris Tomlin and the song “Our God.” So we used to start it with that, but I found he kind of got used to that and he wasn't coming running for the morning time, like he used to. So what I started doing is whatever family read aloud we're currently on, I just start reading and he'll hear me reading and all of a sudden, a kid who distracted doing whatever it is he's doing all of a sudden he's pulled up next to me and listening to me read. So I found that been drawing him in that way.
Oh, that's a great idea because he doesn't want to miss any of that story, does he?
Yes, exactly.
Oh, I love that. That is such a good idea. And then what about closing it off at the end? Do you do anything to close at the end to separate it from the rest of your day.
I haven’t but I'm thinking of doing something physical. I haven't quite figured out what yet, but something I want to, I want to throw in something physical just to burn off some of that energy that he has, because he's very energetic, then we'll take a break and then we'll finish the rest of our day after that break.
Okay. And so now he cuddles with you for the read aloud portion of the time, but it, you know, ever at any other time, has he ever doing some other things while he's at the table there?
Yup. Let me see. We have to read aloud. Sometimes when we're doing our music study, I'll let him draw or I'll have him close his eyes and really think about what he's hearing. And then he'll explain that back to me, our art, obviously we're, you know, we're just drawing or whatever we happen to be doing for that day. So there's always something going on, do the quiet time, and then there's busy time, but it just depends on what we're doing. And then the memory work, we go back and forth. He gets a kick out of the fact that most of the time he'll remember something before I do when we're doing it.
Yeah. I could imagine that, that he would get a big kick out of that.
So when you're doing a memory work, you are really memorizing right alongside of him. Cause I imagine if you weren't, he would kind of feel put on the spot often, wouldn’t he?
Yeah. Yeah. We do it together. We'll do verses, we'll do poetry. He loves to recite the poetry from IEW poetry memorization. I think we've remembered. Well, let me rephrase that. I believe he memorized the first eight poems already.
I'm still working on the first three of them. I'm like, I'm not there yet, but yeah, he loves those. He loves the fact that we get to do it together and I'll tell him, you know, sometimes he doesn't get it right away. He will get a little bit frustrated, but that's all right. Listen, if you're having a hard time,
it means you're learning something new and your brain is working. So you got to work on that. Don't worry about it. That's not frustrated. Let's stop and refocus and then try it again.
Yeah. Yeah. I know that sometimes when things don't come easy, we tend to, I have kids who do that. They're like, okay, I'm going to give up. No, it's it just means you're learning something new. So well, as you guys are working on things in your morning time, does he play a role when it comes to either planning or leading your morning time?
Not yet. He doesn't yet. I'm still working on procedure lists. We do have the, you have a schedule where everything is written out for that day.
So we follow that schedule, but he hasn't had an interest in leading it yet. He right now he's comfortable with me leading it, but I'm figuring we're still in we're. I mean, we're only on fourth grade. I'm pretty sure as we move forward in fifth and sixth grade, he might want to take a more leading role and we'll see that as we get there.
But I offered some things. I know mama you'd do it for now.
That's great. That's great. How about discussions? How did discussions go with it? Just being the two of you?
That's interesting because I'm not a talker per se. I'm much more comfortable acting questions, but I can't have it be that I don't want him to feel like I'm interrogating him.
So I'll really try to make sure that any questions I ask, but they're open-ended questions. And also let him know that he can ask me questions in return. I mean, we're reading the same materials, so, you know, I'll ask Mari, well, what do you think about that? And he's asked me sometimes, like, what was your favorite part about that? And we go back and forth like that.
So you really are having a good discussion over some of the materials. Yeah. What do you think are some of the more unique challenges of doing morning time with an only child that people who have multiple kids in their morning time, they might not, might not have these particular challenges
That one's hard. I think again, it comes back to, and I hate to say this because he's really doesn't, but I think it comes back to your kid and horrible S-word socialization because it's just me and him. So I try to make sure that we only do morning, time, four days out of the week. And one day out of the week, we have to be out somewhere, whether it's for our co-op or we're meeting up with friends, but other interests that he, that he wants to do and that we can invite people along. It's not like we have other kids to keep him interacted when we're doing our morning time. It's just us. I try to keep our morning time sacred. So I tell family, please, from this time to this time, do not call us so that we're not interrupting because any interruptions interrupt the flow of what we're doing. And then it throws us off. Other than that, again, I would say the flow. I have to be very stingy with her time because I know any interruption that's going to throw him off and then he's distracted. And sometimes it's hard to bring him back to where we were at.
Right. And when you've lost him, it's not just that you have one kid who's having a bad day. Your entire school is gone.
Yeah, yeah.
Yeah. Because I know, I know that there are times when you know it, especially my little guy, if he gets off-kilter, but morning time is kind of rocking and rolling with the other two.
I'll just let him go. I'll just say, okay, well you just, you know, you go on out and jump on the trampoline for a little bit or something to get the wiggles out and we can keep going. I can keep going with the other two. And it's not an ideal situation. It's not something I would want to do all the time.
But every once in a while he leaves and we all just kind of take this big sigh of relief. And we're like, okay, now we can really get down to the serious business of learning something. Yeah. You really kind of, you lose everybody when, when your student is gone for the day.
Let's talk a little bit about times when it's hard to keep the energy and motivation going, especially if one or more of you are having an off day, how do you push through?
Depending on how bad it is. If it's something small, then I'm like, all right, let's just take a 10 or 15 minute break, go outside to the backyard, go play with the cat, go jump in your room, go do something. I'll call you back in 10 or 15 minutes.
And that's whether he's off or I'm home. If it's really bad that we've gone, like we're down to tears and that's happened a couple of times, then we're like, all right, Nope, we needed a few hours. And I'll reassess after, after an hour or two out, I'll tell him, listen, maybe you need some sleep, go take a nap, go run in the backyard. We'll do something. Sometimes we'll just cuddle up and go back to our read aloud. You know, those are fun. Those are the fun stuff.
It really depends if I'm the one that's having the off day and that makes it a little harder. Thankfully he is a very good reader. So I can tell him, Hey, go read a book, go read this. And then tell me about it. When you're done that. Mommy, get her mommy, sit down with her cup of tea and relax a little bit. And then I'll get, I'll come back to you so that I can give you my full energy.
But I think a lot of it also, because it's just the two of us, it's really being open with him when I'm not having a good day. And we also have our no school today cards. So there we, I gave him four cards for the year. They say NST on them, no school today. And he has the option of one each quarter, where if he's really having an off day or work, it's a great day. He just wants the day off. He can give me that card and he can get that day off.
Oh, now that's a concept. I don't know that I have ever heard of that before. So basically it can be a bad day or a good day. And he gives you the card and you have to honor it.
Yep. Now I do have veto power. I do get veto power, but most of the time, and again, it's only four, so he's very stingy with them. You know, he's very like, no, I need to hold this for a really good time. But there are days where he just, for whatever reason, doesn't want to do schoolwork that day and I'll honor it.
Wow. And you know, that's one of those things that I, I think I know would be easier to do with one child and much harder to do when you have multiple kids. Because you know, at that point, if I have one child who's asking to use one of their cards, then you know, then do I stop morning time? Do I change morning time?
Because somebody is not going to be there. You know, it doesn't just affect the one person. Then it starts to roll in and affect everybody. I could probably make it work, but that's one of those places where I see an advantage to only having one child to be able to do something like that.
Yeah. I was homeschooling two or three children.
I'm not sure that would work that way. If that was the case, I would probably do a “just because we can day.” And then everybody's off at the same time to have, you know, cause again, it's morning time. So you have certain things scheduled out. I am a type A personality. So I'm a scheduler. I like my checkboxes.
But at the same time again, if I was two or three, I don't think it would work the same. I would probably be the one picking the days and maybe just pull up the prize. Okay. Everybody we're not having full today. We'll do something fun and fun, but not all of it.
Yeah. That's true. Okay. So does mama have a card?
Do you get four cards a year that you get to use?
You know, I should, but I don't see why not. Well, you know what it is, we do a year round schedule, so work six weeks, one week off, give or take. So usually that week off that, you know, I'm supposed to be doing supposedly other things that I just completely take the week off.
I didn't do anything that may be planned for the next six weeks. But other than that, no.
And that's kind of the danger of that schedule. It's you, it's you get to that, you know that after the end of that six weeks and you realize how much you really need that break, even with homeschooling one child, you know, sometimes I think those of us with more than one child thinks, Oh, this would be a piece of cake, but you know, really there's you're everything to him. And so, you know, whereas my kids can go entertain each other and entertain themselves. I think they're actually downstairs making a movie right now with their stuffies while I record this podcast. It's, you know, you play multiple roles for him. And I think it can be probably more demanding on you.
It can be. Cause I mean, like you said, I'm doing everything, I'm a mom, I'm wife. I, the cleaner, I, you know, I'm the teacher, you know, I'm taking care the pets, not that he doesn't do anything. Cause you know, it's we learn all the time. So we're always doing something that can have something new be taught in that situation, but for the most part. Yeah. Yeah.
And he's also coming to you and saying, Hey, you want to play? Yes. Yes. I get that a lot. Yeah. Okay. Well I know Tina that you guys use Ambleside, so, and you, you talked about how you have your daily readings and the things that you do every day and then how you have your loop and that you like to put everything together.
It really works with your personality to put everything together in one spot. So about how long does your morning time stretch out?
h everything I would say maybe an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how deep we want to go into something, Actually, you know, really not horribly bad. I know some Ambleside online people. We're not going to name any names, Dawn Garrett it's morning time stretches out for a couple of hours. So that's, that's not too bad. So how do you make morning time work with your Ambleside studies?
Okay. Well, we started with your stuff first actually, but as we found, we, we didn't start with amplified, but as we learned more about Charlotte Mason, we're picking up more of it. For new times homeschoolers, I do not recommend trying to start for an hour to an hour and a half because you're going to overwhelm yourself. I did not start there at all. When we first started morning time, we were using your plan as a matter of fact, not even cause you didn’t even have the plans. You just had The Morning Basket and we put it together ourselves.
But what we did was we actually started with just our morning devotions, memory works and Spanish and our read aloud. As we found more on Ambleside, we kept our daily stuff and we added in our poetry, our hymns studies, geography picture study art from composer study and nature study nature study. We're still working on, I'm not too sure about that one.
We're working on it. It's cold.
ouTube is great for nature study when it's cold.
Yeah, exactly. But yeah, what we did was we looked at the Ambleside website. We, we don't use everything in there, but we kind of pick and choose. And for our morning time, those were perfect for what we needed. So we picked out what we did and then most of those are on the loop for our loop.
We'll do the half hour for the other stuff to daily stuff. That'll be maybe half an hour to 45 minutes just to do the daily. And then on our loop subjects, we'll do another half hour of wherever we are in our loop. And then just keep going through the next thing.
Yeah. And what I love about this and what I think is important to stress is that, you know, I'm always happy for you to use our morning time plans. I think that's great. But if you're, if you're committing yourself to something like Ambleside, you're not doing both, you're not trying to do all of this stuff from Ambleside and stack it on top of another set of morning time plans. You're taking the stuff that you appreciate and want to do from Ambleside.
And you're working that into your morning time.
Exactly. Yeah. You don't want to do both. That's just, it's too much. We have another curriculum that we use. And even with there, I took out a lot of things as we incorporated Ambleside because it becomes an extremely long school day. I get frustrated. He gets frustrated and that was a working for either of us.
Yeah. I think that's so important. And it's people learn about morning time, you know, if they're doing Ambleside or Sonlight or My Father's World or Living Books Curriculum, or any of these great curriculums that have so many of those riches that you were talking about earlier in them already, the idea is not to add more things in your morning, time to those already full curriculums, but to take the richest from those and put them into your morning time. Yeah. Yeah, I think so. And I'm glad you're doing it that way.
Well, do you have any advice for anybody who is out there with an only child and they're thinking, Oh, I would like to do this morning time thing. What, what would you tell them?
Start slow, pick one or two things that you really want to do. Like for this year we really wanted to focus on the riches start slow take one, two, maybe three things and go from there as you incorporate that and it, and it becomes something becomes part of your morning time and part of your morning nature.
Then you can add things later on, but keep it enjoyable. If it's not fun, you're not going to do it. You're really not. When we first started, for whatever reason, it just seems like morning time was taking forever. So we took a step back and we came back to it and all of a sudden it was quick again, like the time went by quickly. It was, it was smooth. It was flowing. You're going to have ups and downs with it. You're going to have starts and stops. Just take it easy. If you need to take a step back, take that step back and then pick it up again and see and see where you're at. And you might find it goes a little bit better.
Yeah. Why do you think it's worth it for you to do morning time when it's just you and him? I love it. I really do. I get so much out of it. I see the he...okay. When I'm, sometimes you're not sure. You're not sure when your kids are getting it or if they're getting it and then there's flashes there.
There's those moments that he comes out and says something I'm like, there it is. He got it. I didn't think he had gotten it, but he got it. And those are the moments that I look for with him.
I love it. Well, Tina, Thank you so much for joining us here today to talk to us about doing morning time with an only child.
Thank you. I was so glad to help. I hope I helped. I think you did. I think you very much did.
And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the books and resources that Tina and I spoke about today on the podcast, you can find them on the show notes for this episode.
Those are pambarnhill.com/YMB47. Also on the show notes is an opportunity for you to leave a rating or review for the your morning basket podcast in iTunes. We show you how to do that. There we thank you so much for the ratings and reviews that you leave because it helps us get word out about the podcast to new listeners.
We'll be back again in a couple of weeks with another great morning time interview until then keep seeking truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool day.

Key Ideas about Morning Time with an Only Child

Morning Time is a valuable homeschool practice even with an only child. Relationship plays a key role in that special time. And it’s important to set that time apart from the rest of the school day, even with only one student.

One way to set aside Morning Time is to begin and end with something special like a song or a read-aloud.

Even with a full curriculum, you can do Morning Time with your kids. Pull out the riches, like art and composer study, nature study, and topics that you want to focus on learning together and put those in Morning Time.

Find what you want to hear:

  • [3:00] meet Tina Roman
  • [4:25] setting Morning Time apart from the school day
  • [6:30] benefits of doing Morning Time with an only child
  • [8:09] Tina’s Morning Time with all the details
  • [10:55] Dealing with memory work and discussions
  • [13:20] unique challenges of Morning Time with an only child
  • [15:40] staying motivated
  • [21:05] combining Morning Time with your current curriculum
  • [25:05] advice for moms who want to start Morning Time

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