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Have you ever wanted another mom to come along beside you and show you exactly what Morning Time looks like? Maybe, you think, I could just stop by her home and be a fly on the wall and unpack the mysteries of this Morning Time thing? Heather Tully has done just that with other moms in her community and she has been doing it for years.

On this episode of the podcast Heather joins me to talk about what this kind of mentoring can look like and how we might reach out and help other moms learn about Morning Time. And since she is a mom of ten doing Morning Time with the toddler to the teenager, Heather also shares a ton of wisdom in this episode about how to make Morning Time work with a large age range. This one is not to be missed!

Pam: What is your morning basket, where we help you bring truth, goodness, and beauty to your homeschool day. Hi everyone and welcome to episode 56 of the, your morning basket podcast. I’m Pam Barnhill, your host, and I am so happy that you are joining me here today. Well, today’s episode is a lot of fun because I am chatting with Heather Tulley mom of 10, who has done morning time in her house for a number of years. And yes, she does it with all 10 kids at one time. So not only are we going to be talking about how to do morning, time across a wide age range today, we’re also going to be talking about something else that the little dear to Heather’s heart, and that is mentoring other moms in their morning time journey for years and years. [spp-transcript]

Heather has been reaching out to other moms in her community who are interested in mourning time and asking them into her home to see what it can actually look like. And so she provides this opportunity for moms to come in, be a fly on the wall or participate in her morning time so they could see exactly how they could implement it in their own homes. We’re going to be chatting about that and how you might reach out to others in your community as well. It’s a wonderful episode of the podcast and I can’t wait to share it with you right after this word from our sponsor.
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Heather Tully is a homeschooling mother of 10, who also has a flair for photography, which she says gives her the opportunity to find and remember the beauty in the everyday. She posts pictures, circle time plans, and more at her blog, Heathertullyphotography. She joins us on this episode of your morning basket to share about mentoring one another in the practice of morning time, Heather, welcome to the program.
Thanks Pam for having me.
Well, let’s start with you telling me a little bit about your family. Yeah, so we live in Georgia, normally sunny, but we’ve had lots of rain lately with 10 kids. Patricia is my oldest and she’s a senior this year. She’s going to be 18 and she’s doing dual enrollment full time. And then it goes about every other year for us all the way down to Timothy turns one. So we’ve been homeschooling from the beginning classical and then more Charlotte Mason approach learned about her a few years ago.
And these kind of integrated both of those together. And so I say, this is my 15th year because I started morning time with Patricia when she was three. And that’s when we started to do it every morning during the weekday. I think even when she was little, it was a Saturday morning thing too. So it feels like it’s my 15th year.
And so she was an early reader too. So we love to be outside with music. They love to eat. It feels like with 10 kids, they’re always eating and we’re blessed that my…Oh, all the time, right. They’re always hungry. And we’re blessed that my husband works from home four days a week. So daddy’s here, which is wonderful for homeschooling.
He teaches at our co-op the high schoolers and he’s the math guy. So it’s really, it’s been a blessing to have him home. Sometimes it’s a little tricky cause our house is loud, but he’s, he’s got an office up in our bedroom and we try to lock the door when he has a meeting. It’s a crazy, it’s very busy it’s but it’s, it’s a lot of fun to have all these kids. So…
Well you said you’ve been doing morning time with Patricia for 15 years. So when you started morning time, was it something you heard about and said, I want to do that, or was it something that you, you were one of those mamas that started doing this kind of organically and then later realized there were a bunch of other moms doing it too, and people had kind of put a name to it.
Yeah. So I first thought of the concept. I went to a homeschool conference, a tiny little classical conference in Pennsylvania and the Veritas press people were there. And they mentioned that they had a time in their school day where they gathered everybody and they would go through recitations and it was snappy and it was quick and they covered a bunch of topics.
And I just was like, that’s really interesting. I like that idea that we can cover all these things in one spot. And then I started right about that time to read Kendra Fletcher’s blog and learned about the idea of circle time from her. And so I think I got her ebook or I read her blog in the beginning. And so it started out very simply just, you know, we had already been doing Bible reading in the morning, but I started to add poetry. And so we would read a poem and Patricia started to memorize a poem and we started to do catechism and then we added on, you know, read aloud. So it started really simple, 15 minutes, very quick. Cause it was just her.
And then it was her and a baby. And then through the years we just have added more and more to the process and it’s grown and now there’s all these resources available. And so many more people are doing it, which is such a blessed thing.
Well, you know, morning time is a practice. It’s an art, a habit that we learn and grow into. And I think a lot of times moms want to skip that learning and growing into the habit part. Why do you think as moms, we often feel like we’ve got to figure it out on our own and get it right without being taught.
I think it’s a few things I was really thinking about this. And I think one is time. Like it’s, it’s time consuming to talk to other moms, right? You you’re busy homeschooling and you know, you come up with all these plans and the day-to-day living on top of homeschooling. It can be hard to find time to sit down and talk to other moms about what are you doing? How does that look? Because I think more than just a list of things that you’re doing in morning time, it’s like what you said, it’s an art and it’s kind of like a dance and it changes with seasons and with number of children. And so I think there can be a time aspect, but sometimes it’s just hard when you are in busy homeschooling mama to find time to have those conversations.
And I also think there’s a part of it that it’s kind of vulnerable to share that part. Like if you come over to our morning mornings, it’s messy, it’s loud, you know, there’s little ones who are not always sitting still, you know, they’re on the table, they’re under the table, you know, they’re running off and I’m gathering them back, you know, and it’s just it’s, that can be a little intimidating sometimes to share that with other people, it doesn’t always look picture perfect. It’s, you know, there’s food everywhere, there’s books. And you know, if you walk through my, you know, there’s, there’s toys everywhere. Cause as I’m teaching, the little ones are running around and they’re playing and they’re moving around their different activities. And the cleanup comes at the end of the day.
So I think to open up and share that can sometimes be a little scary for people. I think it’s good if we’re willing to do that with one another, because I think a lot of our homes all look like that. We just don’t always share that part of it with other people.
Yeah. You know, it’s funny, you should say that. I have had somebody tell me a number of times, just this one particular person. And she’s like, Pam, what you really need to do is broadcast your morning time. And I’m like, there’s no way I could do that. You would just see absolutely how horribly my children are behaved sometimes.
Exactly. And it starts and it stops, it doesn’t runs smoothly and you know, and the dog will bark. Someone will come to the door,
They’ll complain or they’ll whine and leave the room for the 15th. I’m like, why are you leaving to get I’m reading to you? How can you leave and listen at this same time? And they just get up and walk out of the room.
You know. And I think it’s good though that we shared that because I think moms need to see that.
And that’s why, like, I often love taking pictures where the table is completely messy or, you know, the tutorial two year olds at the table with barely any clothes on, you know, like that’s our life. Like, that’s what it looks like. And you know, you’ve got children sitting in the middle of the table while I’m reading aloud and feeding the baby at the same time, you know, and that, but that’s what a homeschooling mom does all day long. And you know, some families are quieter and their kids are neater, but that’s not our family, the reality of our family of having an 18 year old to a one-year-old it’s, it’s louder and it’s a little bit more chaotic. So, and I, yeah, them getting up, that’s really funny that you say your older ones get up because I’m always hopeful that maybe as they get older, they’ll stop leaving the room as often. So maybe there’s no hope.
Well, my older ones are not that old, so, you know, you’ve got older ones than I do. Well, okay. So this is a question I get a lot is how in the world do you do morning time when your youngest is one, you know, and you have teenagers. So tell me a little bit about what your morning time looks like, right now and not so much the chaos of it. Yeah. I think we’ve kind of covered the chaos, but more like, what do you put in a morning time when you have such a variety of ages? I think that’s what people have a really hard time wrapping their heads around.
It’s like, how do I do Shakespeare or something when half of my kids are not reading yet?
So I kind of look at it like the principle of reading aloud for our kids. I have a time during the, when I read aloud, just picture books to the little ones, but we have a stack of read alouds that we read as a family. And most of those books are way above my little one’s head, but they sit there and they play with their cars or their blocks and we read it to them and we read it to everybody.
And so the morning time’s kind of the same way. So we have Shakespeare and I have where we have read like versions of the Shakespeare for the younger kids.
But throughout each term we go through one play and it’s the original play. We listened to it with arc angel. And then we read along with a copy. And so while we’re doing that, the little ones are coloring or they’re drawing. So they’re listening, but it’s not necessarily at their level. So there’s things like Shakespeare. But then I also have some jingles for Shurley Grammar that hits my middle schoolers so that they can memorize that.
Even though we don’t do Shurley Grammar, we do their jingles love to have that. And then, you know, we throw in a little bit of folk song and folk songs for everybody. And you know, the two year old can only sing the refrain. But, that’s fine. She, you know, they belt it out when they can sing that part, but everybody else sings it. So I try to mix in a variety of topics, but I really aim high. And most of our morning times the things that we’re reading is at the upper level and the kids are just they’re listening and they’re a part of what they can be.
But things like Bible that’s, it’s everybody’s age, you know, the Bible memory, I pick a passage and if the four year old can only get one verse, I’m happy with that. And then I’ll try the next time to pick a shorter passage so that the younger children can memorize the whole thing versus a whole chapter. So it’s kind of a mix and it’s like that fine balancing act of finding a little bit for everybody and then just sprinkling it through our morning time.
But a good portion of it is aimed at my older kids because all of my children are they’re from the 18 year old down. So we do things like geography this year, we’re going through the Declaration of Independence and we’re going through the Bill of Rights. And so the little ones will still be there listening, but they, you know, a lot of it, they won’t catch it this time around.
Right. And I think that’s important to remember as well. I think a couple of things happen. I think we get so caught up in the school mindset that every single thing has to be tailored to, you know, a child and their ability. And so we forget the value of it’s okay, that it’s above them and they just take what they can. And then we also forget that it’s not about teaching something one time and they master it and you move on those kids who are not understanding the Declaration at this point. This is not the only time you’re ever going to do the declaration in their lifetime. You’re going to come back to it again before they leave your home.
Exactly. Yeah. And it, I think it actually helps to lay a foundation. So the next time we come around to it, they’ve heard it right. They’ve heard that name, Benjamin Franklin. They’ve heard, you know, Bill of Rights before, and I’ll read a picture book along the way, one day that fits for the younger children. So it’s kind of mixing it in.
And so that I hit the big kids and things like catechism. When we go through that, you know, I have a younger children’s catechism and I go through with the little kids and then I asked the older kids, their catechism. So yeah, I think that’s, it’s definitely getting out of that mindset that we have to tailor everything to age appropriate.
And I think kids, especially with reading aloud and we do a lot of reading aloud during our morning time, they understand at a level way above what they can read themselves. Things like, you know, sining hymns and folk songs and picture study, and composers. Those are things that it’s not a certain age, every age gleans from it. They take different things away at different levels, but they all glean from that kind of study.
Yeah. Yeah. I think so. Okay. Well, I want to talk to you about something you did once upon a time that I thought was the coolest thing ever. And I really, I would love for this to be just like a grassroots movement across the country. But at one point way back in the day you invited Dawn Garrett, our very own community manager, Dawn Garrett, to come to your house and observe your circle time. So how did that come about and what did it look like to invite someone in to take part?
Right. Yeah. Well, okay. I have to be completely honest because I had to vox Dawn and call her and be like, so Dawn, you came to my house like 13 years ago. Can you remind me what that looked like? Because my brain is fuzzy. I’m like, well, you know, I remember, and I remember Matthias was the baby, so remind me. And I remember she had asked me, I think she had heard me say circle time a few times, you know, she had little ones and this was before she had started, you know, officially her homeschool journey, but she, she knew she wanted to homeschool and she had heard that, but she had never seen it in practice. So she came over one day when we did it. And you know, at that time it was, I’m sure it was a simpler process.
It wasn’t as long as it is now, but the things that she took away from it is that we moved through the material very quickly. You know, we didn’t stay on one topic for a really long time. And the idea was a bunch of small things would slowly add up over the years. That was what I was holding on to. That we’re going to go over a bunch of little things and we’ll keep adding to it kind of like grains of sand and through the years that will become a beach that, you know, you don’t get the beach the first year or even the second year.
But it’s just those little bits and, and it has, it’s been really neat to see that through the years, as I’ve gone back over material, the older ones, remembering it, or for me to hear them singing songs or hymns, you know, on their own things that, you know, we covered years ago, but it’s in their mind and because we review it, they remember it. So I think she just really saw that that was a neat concept that you didn’t have to wait until you were teaching grammar that if you went ahead and got together and you went over some of those definitions at the beginning of the day, it would later make your lesson time go faster.
And I was looking for a way to cover a lot more topics in one setting because I knew we had all these children to cover all these things. So I think for her, it was, it was neat to see how all those things came together at one time at the very beginning of the day. So yeah, it was fun. They were little, it was a long time ago.
So when she did this, we know Dawn has three kids in there, like all 32 months apart or something like that. So they’re really close. Yeah. So let’s talk about the practical aspects of this. So she shows up at your house with one or two babies, three babies, and they just come in and like, did they sit on the couch and watch across the room? Or did they join in
If I remember correctly at that time, we probably were on the couch for a long time. We did it in the, we did our morning time in the living room, but now we’ve moved to a table because of just logistics. We had too much material to hold in our lap. And so, but yeah, she just came and she watched and she observed, and I don’t remember her asking, I think she asked me questions later, like after we were done and just kind of watched, and we did our morning time and, you know, we did, and it was shorter.
It was probably a good 15, 20 minutes we were done at that time. It was much shorter. Now it’s closer to, it’s about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. And so, but yeah, she just sat and observed and watched and we were good friends. We, you know, we went to the same church. So having her come over, it was a little bit probably of a distraction cause my kids wanted to play, but it was somebody they knew. So, and we have done that a few times over the years had a mama come over. Usually it’s just the mama because it makes it easier. Like the kids, if their kids are there, then you know, my kids are just gonna want to play.
They want to do school. So it’s easier if it’s just the mom and just sit and observe and then talk and chat over coffee after morning, time is over because I think it helps to see it like it and it probably helps them to see those bumps in the road and how we transition from one thing to the next. And it just, I think it gives you a boost of, okay, even if it’s going to look different in your home, you’re able to see what the reality of doing morning time looks like, because when you read about it, it’s a little different than actually doing it.
Right. And so you’ve, yeah, you’ve done this more than once. And I love the tip about just have the mom come by herself, you know? So that’s not, yeah. Now do you like bribe your kids with ice cream to be particularly good on those days? Or maybe threaten them?
The only time I bribe my kids with ice cream is when we take photos one time, a year in official photo. And that’s the only time I’m like you get ice cream. If you sit Through this. When you come to my home, you get what you get, like, this is who we are. And I’m probably going to have to walk the child out of the room at some point or send somebody up to dad. So no, but there, you know, sometimes having a stranger in the house helps them behave better. Like we should have strangers in the house.
Often everybody’s sitting here.
Could we have somebody come and visit our morning time every day?
They like, they’re like, Ooh, there’s somebody here. I need to sit, you know, and pay attention. But no, it’s, there’s been some very real moments when we’ve had people over and it’s just, that’s what it’s like to have kids. So did you have somebody mentor you and in homeschooling, you know, whether it was morning, time or not, but in some aspect of morning time or some aspect of homeschooling?
Yeah. I, so I grew up, I was homeschooled a little bit in elementary school and then went back to school and then a little bit and later on. So I, you know, I had that experience that I had been homeschooled, but we had never done a morning time. So really the concept was brand new until I came across. Is it homeschoolers and peace, was I’m trying to remember Kendra’s blog. Preschoolers in peace. Thank you. Yes. So that was all, you know, until I read about circle time, that was kind of a new concept for me. And then hearing from the Veritas people.
And then I kind of, I went straight over to them and ask some very specific questions of how they did it and you know, what kind of subjects they were covering during their recitation time in the morning. And so that was, it was kind of all new for me, that part of it. But I’ve been blessed that along the way, just a lot of friends have homeschooled.
And so chatting with them, I’m using this and I’m trying this and, and because we have so many children in our house, I kind of throw as much into morning time as possible. Keeping, I always capped us off at an hour and a half, but I, if I can teach it in morning time, it goes in morning time. There’s just too many students to teach all those subjects to each individual one.
So I’m really big on, can it go morning, time? Perfect. Yeah, Greek literature, like, okay, I’m not going to read the, you know, Greek literature over several students. We’re going to pick one book and we’re going to all read it together as a family. And same thing with Shakespeare or poetry, we’re going to pick one poet and do it as a family versus everybody having their own poetry going on. So it just simplifies the process for me.
Well, what do you think makes a good mentor for other homeschool moms? What, what do you, as, because obviously you’ve kind of taken on this role, even unofficially. It’s not like you’ve hung out a shingle and said, I’m a homeschool mentor, but you know, you’ve kind of taken on this unofficial role. What do you think makes a good mentor?
I think you have to just be willing to be open and kind of roll with the punches. You know, when you’ve got this many children in your house, you know, when you have somebody in, it’s gonna, it’s gonna get a little messy and you just have to be willing to just have that calmness.
Like this is what our life is and you know, you’re welcome to come. You’re welcome to be a part of our day. So I think that really helps. I think just being open, I think there’s a lot of young homeschool mamas. I remember being that way, wishing I could just talk to someone or go over and to somebody’s home and I didn’t care what their house looks like.
And I didn’t, you know, I just wanted to experience that. And so I think if you are willing to do it, people will come. Like people will be asking to come over and ask you questions and come over and observe. So more than anything, it’s probably just that willingness to do it, that openness to, to share a little bit of your life and it’s going to look different, you know, it’s going to look different for them because each family’s unique. But I think people, we can all glean from learning from one another.
How have you, you know, if somebody is listening to this and they’re thinking, you know what, I could do this, I could have families over. Okay. So, you know, I’m an introvert. So to me, as I’m thinking about this, it just seems like it would be weird to walk up to somebody and say, Hey, you can come to my house, but how has this happened for you? If, if we have moms listening who have this kind of heart for opening up and letting other people come in and watch their morning time, how have you gotten hooked up with people who wanted that through the years?
Mostly it’s been people like through either our church or we’ve had a homeschool co-op and so just chatting with the other moms, you know, we, and this is what we do. And, and they’ve asked, and then, you know, I’ve volunteered or they’ve asked, you know, can I come over? So that’s been the main way. And then I also share often on our blog or on, through Instagram and share a picture and write about what we’re doing. And that can be a great way to connect with people. Especially if, you know, online, it opens up the community a little wider than just in person, but yeah.
Yeah. Well, and that was kind of leading into my next question is, you know, so many of us as homeschool moms. Even if we have local homeschool friends, it seems like we have even more online homeschool friends. You know, that, that, that’s a big part of our relationship with each other is these relationships we’ve built online. So is there, is there a way to do mentorship when it’s not practical to meet face to face, do you think?
I think so. I mean my husband teases me that, you know, like, you’re your computer friends and I’m really grateful that I’m beginning to, like, I meet them in person at a conference. I’m like, now you’re a real friends, but I think it’s a great opportunity. Like it, you know, sharing a video through Instagram stories or, you know, Facebook has stories. I’ve never tried that, but, or even embedding a video link onto a blog writing about it. I like, I liked the video because it gives an aspect of realism and you can see, see more, I think practically what it looks like, but I haven’t done that a whole lot yet. I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t tried it yet. But I think connecting that way is, is a wonderful opportunity. And I would love to see like a resource of, okay, you’re in the morning, time you go here and here’s a list of people who do morning, time in your area and back and forth, or you can share, you know, here’s a list of videos, you know, morning time from this mama and this morning time with this mom. And I think it would be a neat way to get connected, but I’m also one who loves to ask, like when I find out somebody is doing something, I will go find that person and ask them, what are you using? What does that look like? You know, how old are your kids? You know, can you give me an example?
So I think, you know, don’t be afraid to ask, if you hear a mom saying she’s doing morning time, or you hear a mom who has that number of children that you have go and ask her what that looks like, ask her to share.
Yeah. I think as you know, it’s people who are meeting people, you don’t always feel comfortable saying, Oh, I’m doing this. And I would be happy to tell you all about it and give you advice because it’s unsolicited advice, you know, who knows if they’re going to be appreciative of that or not, but from the other direction, I think even though the mom sitting next to is not putting herself out there offering things, if she were asked a question, then she would probably be more than willing to share that kind of information.
Yeah, I think so. And I think, you know, and start, I’m always like trying to find out if people have an Instagram or a blog, because a lot of times we like to share there in greater depth than talking, you know, over, you know, comments. So searching and finding that out is often a great resource too. Yeah, I think so, too. \So don’t be afraid to ask mamas if you’re out there. Yeah. Reach out to those other homeschool moms. Cause they’re probably willing to share. They’re just not going to volunteer unless you, you ask them. So Yeah.
Well, let’s talk a little bit more about morning, time in your home because, and we’ll let you mentor us a little bit today because you have such great wisdom and advice. You’ve been doing it for such a long time, but what’s your kids’ favorite part of morning time do you think?
So I actually asked them, so I, at the end of the year, I always ask and that’s always one of the questions on their kind of like survey. And so it was Shakespeare, almost all of them, even from some of the younger ones, they, I think they love audio books. And so listening to Shakespeare was, was top on the list. And then several of them mentioned folk songs. And I hear even the little ones singing the folk songs, like when they’re playing throughout the day. So those are the top two. They, they really appreciate. And I see it coming and you know, in their play, which, you know, you’ve hit on something golden if you see kids playing it later, like it’s like, okay, that’s working. It’s really special.
Can you give me an example of a folk song? So mamas know what you’re talking about?
When you say folks on screen, you can be one or two. So yeah, I’m trying to, grandfather’s clock is one that right now my four year old is singing all the time. That was actually a poem that we memorized and then we started to sing it and then I’m trying to think I have to that’s okay.
No, this is just, you know, I need another cup of coffee. So this year we’re going to do Come Lads and Lassies so I don’t even know that one. Like I just put it on there. I’m like, well, I’m going to trust AO’s lists for folk songs. And I’m like, okay, we’re going to put that on there. It sounds interesting. So I haven’t even printed it out yet.
I was going to mention that, that you probably get yours from the Ambleside online list of folk songs. And that’s a great resource if moms are wanting to have. It’s awesome.
Billy boys, another one Home on the Range. That’s one that my boys like, they sing that one a lot and it’s really cute because I just can picture them playing that even though they’re older, they just really liked that song. So, but yeah, I go to Ambleside Online for, we do a lot of Ambleside online since we do Charlotte Mason, but they have a wonderful resource list of folk songs and links to be able to listen to it so that you can kind of get the tune down. Oh, that’s awesome. All right. What’s your favorite part of morning time?
My favorite part is The Institute of Excellence in writing has a poetry program. We have done that since Patricia was three. So that is one that has been tried and true and definitely buy the DVDs to listen so that you can push play and let Andrew Pudewa read it. So I think it’s nice to give mama’s voice a break in the morning time. And so that your kids are not just always listening to you.
So we listened to whatever new poem or list we’re going to memorize. And then we go through and we read it together. And so that’s been one that’s tried and true. I just love it. And then our catechisms, our church’s catechisms, it’s such a great way to impart truth to the children in such a simple way that they can understand. And that’s something that we’ve always done. So those are my two favorites.
Yeah. And I love that IEW, it’s a Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization. And so what level are you guys?
Yeah, so my oldest are in level four and you know, everybody else has sprinkled in, cause I kinda just, I start to bring them in when they can start memorizing. So, you know, the almost five-year-olds on level one, you know, she’s memorized the first three poems. And so we just kind of go at their pace. And through the years, if I find a favorite poem, we put that in also. But yeah, those older kids amaze me, their brains, that they can hold it. They memorize so much better than I do. They hold it in their heads so much faster than I do.
And they have years of practice. So, you know, what logistically, how does that look in your home? Are, you know, are you doing how are cause you know, linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization for the people who don’t know are, it’s kind of designed around the Suzuki method where it’s, while you’re working on a level, you’re doing every poem every day. Right. And so how does it look in your family where you have kids in multiple levels?
So kind of when we get to poetry, so we have our newest poem that we’re memorizing and I always start youngest, oldest. So I would start with the five-year-old. She would say her poem, then we’d go to the next two children. They would recite theirs and we just kind of go around the table. Then we have binders. And so then their new material’s always in front. And then they turn the page and we review an old poem and we usually review two or three. So we don’t review. Like they recommend every poem every day or every other poem every day when you get to level two, just because we have too many children and we have too much poetry to review, but we review a few of them. And then we just put our little flag marker. And we come back to review that the next time we come to poetry. And so, and I kind of do that with every section of our Morning Time. So we do that for poetry. And then with folk song, we sing our newest folk song. Then we turn the page over and we review one folk song and then we go over to our catechism and then I would go..Catechism and poetry. It’s each individual child recite things like him and folk songs and grammar. That’s everybody just as on the same page, we do one all together, but I keep their catechism separate because they are all at different levels.
So when you do the poetry and the catechism review, okay. So you, everybody does their current one separately when you do the review one is, are you just reviewing a couple for everybody as a group?
Yeah, yeah. Reviewing just as everybody as a group. And so, you know, we’re on level four, so we just start at level one and we review a page or two, just go through it pretty snappy, you know, like read if there’s two poems on that page, we’ll read both of those poems. And so when we just moved the marker around through the year and then come back to wherever we started.
Well, I was going to say, you’re not doing one poem plus one review for each child. And then you have seven kids who are doing this.
Yes, yes. So I have, so everybody does their own poem or their own catechism, but all the review is always all together. And then, yeah. And then when we get to things like grammar or history, we were going to memorize some of the Declaration of Independence. That’s all as a group because it’s just easier. That way it’s too confusing to, we would be there forever, the poetry and the, and the catechism are our biggest chunks. And so another part of our morning time is we never get through all of it.
So we just loop around to it and we stop there and we Mark it and then we just pick up where we left off the next day. So that when I learned about loop scheduling, I learned, I’ve read about that from Sarah Makenzie. And then I re-heard about it from you. It was like a huge light bulb moment because I had been trying to do everything and just, it was too much, you know, with all that we were wanting to cover and the number of students and not for me was this golden like, Oh, we can just stop it. It sounds so simple, but it really wasn’t. It was like a light bulb moment. Oh, we can stop and start there tomorrow. Like I don’t have to try to cover everything in one day. And it was a breath of fresh air for my children.
Right. Because you’re not trying to push through. Yeah. Especially when things turn ugly. So let’s talk about when things turn ugly, what are your best tips for wrangling multiple little ones during morning time
Food, food is good. The littlest like the one-year-old. He sits in his high chair as long as possible.
And I keep him there as long as possible by giving him food. And then when the baby has to get up, we keep them in the room with us, with toys. But so food is good, feed them and they’ll stay, even the older children. I have index cards and special markers that only come out at morning times. So if the kind of the household rules, if it’s not your turn to speak, you’re allowed to color with that index card and marker. But if you’re supposed to be speaking, you have to stop coloring. And so it helps to keep their hands busy and keeps them in place. My littlest three-year-old, he usually brings a bunch of cars to the table too, but letting them keep their hands busy, helps.
And then the other big tip is I kind of put little people in between big people so they can help, you know, they can help that little child sit or get up and take the little one to the bathroom if they need to go. So that really helps. And my big kids are, are really good at, you know, having a little one on their lap and, you know, they’re reciting, they’re going to be great parents cause they’re reciting poetry or their Shakespeare to me, as the baby’s crawling, you know, over their head, you know, and they’re just really good at doing that and helping me so I can keep everything going and keeping the flow moving, but they don’t go ahead.
I was going to say, I do want to point out that when your oldest was eight or nine, this looked very different though. Didn’t it.
Yeah, it did. And like everybody, it was more me. Right. I, you know, I was holding that two year old while the eight year old was reciting and they, I think they were more still when it was just a few of them though, one of my sons has barely ever sat down and that’s what I was going to say is that it’s okay if they move around, I just want them to stay in the room because bad things happen when children go missing. So they need to stay close. And I want to be able to hear them when they’re reciting to me, you can’t be, you know, upstairs trying to recite your poetry to me.
So, but yeah, it’s moved, it’s morphed a little bit and I’ve had to be more flexible with the busy-ness around the table. And that’s kind of goes into my personality because I would like it to be neat and tidy. And everybody’s still looking at me when I’m asleep, but they’re really listening, even if they’re not looking at me and you know, I know from the, you know, them narrate their hearing and they’re paying attention. It’s just, it doesn’t always appear it to be that way. So I’ve had to learn to adjust my expectations.
Yes. What do you do about noise? Does it, I mean, with that many little ones, is it ever just where you can’t stand it?
I have to say, okay, everyone is just too loud and I am, you do have to be quiet. So, you know, if you’re, if, because we do a lot of reciting in between reading a book aloud and you know, and then singing together. So, you know, the three-year-old and the one-year-old are learning to be quiet, but it’s a great training ground for them being able to sit through church and worship as a family. So that’s where they can learn it, is learning it at home at morning time. But yeah, you have to play your cards quietly. If you’re playing with little cars and if you’re coloring, you need to be quiet, but they learned that it, but there are times where I have to look up, especially if I’m reading aloud, like somebody will be humming. So like, can you please, can you please not sing that folk song again? We just sang.
Have there ever been days where you really just felt like throwing in the towel and giving the whole thing up?
Oh yeah. Even like, even a year, like there was one middle one. I love her. She’s my fireball. Like she’s just that first year I was so inconsistent with morning time because it was just so almost impossible to get her to sit and we just could only do 10 minutes and it felt like to me, I was failing, but I now look back and realize just doing those 10 minutes and then calling it a day was that wasn’t failing.
That was, that was what we could do. And it was wonderful. But I had in my mind that we should be doing our hour morning time, but it wasn’t worth sacrificing that relationship with that very active little toddler. And so I had to really pull back and that was hard for me cause I like my hour morning time and I liked getting all that stuff done, but I think that’s a really good tip is that you have to be willing to sometimes see that, Hey, I’ve got this child and they can’t handle this long a morning time or reading aloud. This book is just too much for this child. So it would be better to just shelf that and come back to that later. And then there’s days, even now where I’m like, you know what, this isn’t working, let’s all go outside. Let’s go for a walk or you all go outside and I’m going to have a cup of coffee outside because I’ve got older kids. They’ll go for the walk. And I sit and I regrouped because it’s just, the relationship is more important than getting through a checklist of stuff. And so if it’s across the board,
retired, everybody’s grumpy, I’m grumpy. We just need a break. We need to change the scenery. And usually getting outside is kind of that healing for us or singing. If I can, you know, let’s just sing hymns for a little while or focus on this or that really seems to lift everybody’s spirits. But for me, I’ve had to learn to stop and just be content with a little and not everything.
I love that and that’s probably the best, the best advice right there. And you know what you’re, you can probably tell this tale that, that season too shall pass and you’ll be back to your longer morning time again. It does. And it does pass. Like, you know, she grew up, she got better as sitting still.
Now she’s still is the child who most of the time is under the table, you know, or, you know, she, she just has a hard time sitting and that’s okay. I’ve had children who like walk around the living room or the table the whole entire time we’re doing morning time. And I just have to be okay that that’s their personality and give them that ability. You know, it doesn’t have to look sitting, still sitting perfectly quiet, but yeah, even in those rough moments, it all adds up together. It’s just a little bit as consistent as you can. It really adds up. And I would say hit the really important things, you know, talk to your husband, pray over what are the essentials to your morning time for us, it’s reading the Bible. We start out with that. And then we do our catechism and our poetry. And if I can hit that, I feel like, okay, that’s the bare minimum of our morning time. And I feel like, okay, we’ve had a good morning. We started our day. Now I can let them go on with the rest of their lessons.
That sounds good. Well, Heather, thank you so much for joining me today. Tell everybody where they can find you online. What’s the best place?
So my Instagram is Heathertullyphotography. And if you go there, if you go to my profile, it has a link to my blog.
I’m trying to be better about blogging, but I definitely get on Instagram often. So that’s a great way to connect to me.
I love it. Okay, well, thank you so much for joining me.
Thank You for having me. This was fun.
And there you have it. Now, if you would like links to any of the books and resources that Heather and I chatted about today, you can find them on the show notes for this episode of the podcast. Those are I’ll be back again in a couple of weeks with a great conversation with community manager, Dawn Garrett, all about morning time on the go. We think you won’t want to miss that one. Until then keep seeking truth, goodness and beauty in your homeschool day.

Links and Resources from Today’s Show

Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your DayPinCircle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your DayThe Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte MasonPinThe Original Home Schooling Series by Charlotte Mason


Key Ideas about Having a Morning Time Mentor

When doing Morning Time with a wide range of ages, aim high and trust that the little ones will come along. Choose topics that benefit everyone, like bible and poetry memorization, but the rest of the subjects, focus on your older kids. Even if the little ones don’t understand all the material this time around they will have something to connect it to when you come around to that material again in the future.

One beautiful way that homeschool moms can mentor one another is inviting other moms into your home and observing your homeschool day. Watching another mom go through her homeschool day and transition from one thing to another allows her to get a real sense of what a school day actually looks like.

Homeschooling can be challenging and sometimes we just need to adjust our expectations or regroup. It may mean you need to be okay with a shorter Morning Time for a period of time and remember that it won’t always be that way. Other times, we just need to recalibrate by going for a walk or sending the kids outside to play so you can reset. But ultimately, the key is remembering that homeschooling is not about getting everything checked off the list, it’s about relationships.

Find What you Want to Hear

  • [3:20] meet Heather Tully
  • [5:40] Heather’s start with Morning Time
  • [7:14] growing into the art of Morning Time
  • [11:10] Morning Time with teenagers and toddlers
  • [16:10] mentoring other moms in Morning Time
  • [24:33] finding and being good homeschool mentors
  • [30:30] favorite part of Morning Time
  • [38:46] tips for doing Morning Time with lots of littles
  • [42:48] when you just want to give up

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