by Jenny Yahn
So many homeschool moms and kids think fondly when they hear the words Morning Time. It doesn’t necessarily have to occur at that time of day, although it is a good way to prepare hearts for learning. In our home, Morning Time is the hour or two that we start our day with learning together. Learning as a family cements bonds, creates shared stories and a family culture your kids will remember forever. Morning Time accomplishes that by pulling together resources that the entire family can participate in, which gets everyone set for learning.
In the case of suddenly homeschoolers, your morning time is going to be very short, probably 30 minutes or less. The idea for you is to have a hook on the day that prepares your kids for learning. This is a huge change for them. They thrive on the routine and cues of their days at school to prepare them for the next thing. They are used to bells and lines and recess to help them. You need to create some cues of your own in your home. Morning time is the first cue.
So where do you start? Give kids something to do with their hands. This is so important! Yesterday I mentioned the last step of my kids morning routine is to have their morning time activity ready. They need to pick something that is quiet, that they do on their own, and that is not distracting/taking up too much brain power for themselves or others. They can’t sit by each other. At our house, some favorites are legos, drawing, coloring, building Keva blocks or really any kind of blocks, playing with playdough or other clay, and putting together a puzzle.
Most kids, especially wiggly boys, really are able to pay attention better when their brain and hands are actively doing something else. There is research to prove this, and I can tell you after four years of homeschooling this is crucial to my kids. It may drive you crazy at first to be reading aloud and feel like no one is listening to you. I assure you they are. If it gets too rowdy, stop reading and ask the offender to tell you back what you just said. Nine times out of ten they are going to repeat it verbatim. If they aren’t listening, give a warning and they may need to choose a different activity.
Now that your kids are prepped and think this is a pretty amazing way to be doing school, open your day with prayer. Praying for our day, reading the Bible or a devotion, and memorizing Bible verses are our first step. If you are musical, you may also want to learn a hymn together. Use one of the resources I have listed at the bottom of the blog post and just start at the beginning and read one section, or a page or two.
The key to reading aloud is to stick with short lessons. You don’t want them to lose attention before you are finished. Leave them wanting more. After you have finished reading, ask them to tell the story back to you. Have them take turns. This is called narration, and is an amazing tool to work on the habit of attention. It also helps with writing later, as the process of organizing thoughts in the head to be told back is the precursor to writing.
After we read from the Bible, we do Bible Memory. I have a couple of programs listed in the resources. We do Bible memory very simply. We have one verse a week. The first day we read the verse and discuss what we think it means. Next I read a small section of it, and they repeat after me three or four times. The next morning I read the whole verse, then they repeat the whole thing to me several times.
Eventually, they get to where they try it on their own. If they get the whole thing, I usually give them a small piece of candy. We review the past verses a couple times a week.
Depending on how much time you have, or if you have a big workload yourself for the day, you may want to dismiss everyone here and start individual learning. However, if you would like to lean into this, there are many more things you could add to morning time.
We usually will read aloud next. We always have one fun read aloud that doesn’t really have anything to do with other subjects. I have linked to The Read Aloud Revival read aloud list at the bottom for some great ideas. You can read out loud yourself, or get the audio book. We just read one chapter, or a little less than that if they are long. Remember short lessons are key.
Nature Study would be another great addition to morning time. This is a time to learn about the world God created. There are many amazing, although generally old books in a category called Nature Lore. They are beautifully written and add a beautiful touch to morning time. I have also linked several nature study curriculums in the resources. I have used all of them. You may also want to watch a YouTube video about something you are learning about in Nature Study. All of these things fit in Morning Time.
Geography is another subject that fits really well into Morning Time. There are some excellent geography books that make learning together really fun. Richard Halliburton, a travel writer from the early 1900s wrote two great books for kids (really great for Elementary to High School) that take them on an amazing journey across the world.
These books are really popular in the homeschool community, so there are a lot of online resources to follow up with as well. I linked all of them below. This year we have used several books by Barbara Taylor to learn more about geography. They include experiments you can try together, interesting text and pictures.
Think about other things you would like to learn together but never seem to have time for. Maybe you could work on 4H projects during this time, and your kids could demonstrate to their siblings how they do their projects. You could build rockets together, bake, sew, learn entomology, robotics, and on and on. Art is another subject you could cover at this time. Pinterest has a million art projects that can be done as a family. You could sign up for a program like Masterpiece Society, or learn to do chalk pastels together. I posted links for all of these subjects below.
I think you can see that Morning Time can suddenly balloon into an entire morning if you allow it to. You are welcome to do that, but a trick to keeping it short is to change subjects each day. Everyday you do the Bible chunk and maybe the fun read aloud, but then on Monday you do Nature Study, Tuesday you do Geography, Wednesday you do Art, etc. You are the boss and you get to make it work for your family.
I am hoping you see how Morning Time is this flexible beautiful time in your day that can bring your family together. Create a schedule that works for you, but find the time to learn together and get a taste of what homeschooling is. I am so excited to hear how this goes in your family, and please reach out to me with what is working and what is not.
Morning Time Blog Posts
Free Morning Time Plans - These include subjects I didn’t mention in the post, but this is what a pretty traditional morning time looks like.
What Your Kids Can Do While Reading Aloud
The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine F. Vos
The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones
Older Kids: New Testament Reading Plan
Older Kids: Trail Guide
Hymn Study Resources
Topical Memory System
Read Aloud Booklists
Nature Study & Nature Lore Books
Cindy West Topical Nature Studies, as well as Live Classes offered
Exploring Nature With Children
Storybook of Science - for free to read here:
Storybook of Science to purchase softcover:
Richard Halliburton Books
Accompanying Resources to Halliburton Books:
Barbara Taylor Books:
Maps & Mapping
Mountains and Volcanoes
Rivers and Oceans
Drawing the World Books:
Masterpiece Society Membership