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When I first sat down to plan out B’s kindergarten last year, I had no idea what morning time was. I think I had seen it mentioned on a few sites, but knowing that it wasn’t “required” as part of the Ambleside Online curriculum as well as the fact that the thought of implementing yet another homeschooling “thing” into our schedule with rules and requirements was daunting at best. So I decided to skip it.
Little did I know that those mothers who homeschooled multiple children for several years were on to something (imagine that!). When I actually started scheduling all of this stuff and wondering where certain things would fit in, morning time kept popping its little head up in the back of my mind, humbly reminding me that perhaps it could be of assistance. How could I get all of these “riches” in when there wasn’t something really palpable to do? Should I skip the folk song? Or the hymn? And what about recitation? Picture study was a little more tangible as there was something to sit and look at, but the others? Not so much.
Around the same time, I also started listening to the Mason Jar podcast, co-hosted by Cindy Rollins who tends to be thought of as the morning time expert (for good reason!). She kept mentioning Morning Time and how she used it in her family of nine children and I decided to give it another look to see how we could work it into our schedule.
I think when I finally understood that there aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules for Morning Time, as I understand it, anyway (again, I’m not an expert!), I figured there was no risk in at least trying to make my own version. It’s particularly helpful if you have multiple children and several subjects, texts, poems, etc. that you want to cover with all of your students at the same time. But I think it can also be a good time to make sure those same things don’t fall through the cracks for a lone student. I also like the idea of it being more fluid than the rest of the schedule, meaning that what’s being covered, read, sung, or memorized can change from month to month and has more flexibility than the rest of the curriculum. Basically, Morning Time is whatever you need it to be.
I’ve started with an extremely basic Morning Time routine for us as I still wanted to keep things very short for B’s kindergarten. I mentioned already that his entire kindergarten time from beginning to end is about 45 minutes, with about half of that being Morning Time. As he gets older, I definitely want to add more things. I’ve seen some homeschoolers adding chapter books (not narrated), memorizations like the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence, and sentence diagramming for grammar during this time. It’ll be interesting to see how it evolves.
This year, though, our very simple Morning Time routine has looked like this:
This is fairly self-explanatory. 🙂 I usually as the kids if they have any prayer requests and then we have a short little prayer.
This is for memorization – we say the Lord’s Prayer every Sunday in church during communion and I thought it would be helpful for him to know this….a side effect is that C has actually memorized it before her big brother. 🙂 Other things I’ve inserted into this time have been The Nicene Creed as well as another prayer we say from the Book of Common Prayer during communion in church.
Term 1 was Mary Cassatt and Term 2 has been Giotto. Again, these are pretty brief. I’ll have him look at the picture for a little bit and ask if he notices anything in particular or if anything stands out to him. If there’s a story behind the piece, I’ll read it to him. I’ll ask him if he likes it or doesn’t like it and why. Then a day or two after we’ve looked at it a few times, I’ll have him look at it again, and then take it away and ask him what he can remember about it. So far, this is his least favorite part of Morning Time, but I’m hoping that changes as he gets older. Term 3 will be Whistler.
I originally thought I might skip the AO folksongs because I didn’t see the point. However, thinking back on my own elementary school days, I actually do fondly remember the cheesy Stephen Foster songs we’d sing in music class (with the boys screaming “REFRAIN” when the chorus came around) and even all these years later, I can still conjure up at least most of the words to Old Dan Tucker. It’s part of folk history, American and otherwise (especially with the sea chanties we’ve been singing this year), and it’s also kind of fun. 🙂
This is probably where I’m the loosest in following the AO schedule mainly because I can’t find good (buyable) recordings of the songs they suggest. I know many AOers like to use the free versions on YouTube or elsewhere, but at usually only around a dollar per song, I like to buy them so I can put them on B’s little radio during the term and he can listen whenever he wants. We also already have a lot of Elizabeth Mitchell’s music which are mostly folk songs, so I often fall back on those as well. So far we’ve done these:
- September: Shoo Fly
- October: Loch Lomond (this has been my favorite so far)
- November: This Land is Your Land
- December: Frosty the Snowman
- January: The Fish of the Sea
- February: There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
For Term 3 and the rest of the year, we’ll be doing these:
- March: With My Swag All on My Shoulder
- April: The Rhyme of the Chivalrous Shark
- May: You Are My Flower
This was another part of the AO schedule that I thought about skipping, but again, it came down to memories for me. My dad and I didn’t start attending church regularly until I was nine and then we were only at more conservative churches where these hymns were sung for about five years. But those few years I got of traditional hymns have stuck with me. It’s been a trip down memory lane some of these months. 🙂 Here’s what we’ve done so far this year:
- September: Lord I Believe Thy Power I Own (I couldn’t find a buyable version of this and wasn’t comfortable enough with trying to find one on my own, so I just played a YouTube version and called it good)
- October: Take My Life and Let It Be (this introduced me to Mary Barrett who I love now)
- November: Be Still My Soul (Libera is amazing)
- December: Silent Night
- January: Be Thou My Vision (this one rekindled my love of Michael Card)
- February: My Hope is Built
And here’s the plan for the rest of the year:
- March: Praise to the Lord, The Almighty
- April: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven
- May: Come Thou Fount
Walter Scott said, “Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary.” And so, in the curriculum, we read poetry every day, but we also have one poem that we work on memorizing each month. On average, depending on the length of the poem, it takes us about four to six weeks to memorize one. These are the ones we’ve done this year:
- September: The Mist and All
- October: A Bed in the Leaves
- November: First Thanksgiving of All
- December: Long, Long Ago
- January: Months
- February (what we’re currently working on): All Things Bright and Beautiful
This is a standard doxology.
Also the standard “The Lord be with you,” “And also with you.”
Of course, there are other things I could easily put in here that we do cover during our “normal” curriculum time…copywork (covered in detail here and also when we listen to our composer study), Bible reading (which will probably eventually end up here), Bible verse memorization (this will probably never not be during breakfast time), poetry reading (instead of just memorization and recitation), etc. But this is how it all fits into the puzzle that is homeschooling right now. I know it will change as we get further into this schooling thing and I’m very okay with that. In fact, I’m excited to take in some of the suggestions Cindy Rollins offers up for Morning Time during her 31 Days to Morning Time series.
And, again, this list is definitely not exhaustive and pales in comparison to the ones other mothers have created, especially those who have been doing this for a while and have more than one kid in school. 🙂 But I’m okay with what it is now and thankful that it can evolve.