Mornings have long been a frustration to me, in the sense that we’ve struggled to get breakfast done and our day begun. It’s seemed like we’re very disjointed/disconnected, not very family-ish, and have such a hard time getting to the point where we’re doing anything besides spinning our wheels.
Last month, the Simple Homeschool weekend links included this gem – What’s Working :: 5 Strategies for Right Now, from Amongst Lovely Things, a blog I hadn’t previously read. Sarah gives some great ideas in a relatively short post, but the one that jumped out at me was #3 – “Start Early. Very Early.” When I read her description of how her family’s mornings used to be, and I thought she must haved lived at my house!
The whole insistence on being “dressed and ready for the day before starting schoolwork” is really lingering residue from out-of-home education. But we are not trying to bring into our home what happens in a school building. No, we are seeking to educate our children at home in the way that best fits them and our family. And sometimes it is difficult to even spot the things we do as a result of the influence of the school system.
So Sarah describes how they have thrown out the “getting ready” and have begun a habit of just starting the day with reading aloud together. In her words,
Trust me, getting out of bed is a much more appealing prospect when chores and math aren’t looming directly overhead. My kids wake to the promise of a cozy blanket while mama reads a story. I sip coffee while I read, and before we know it we’ve got 30 minutes of literature (or history, science, religion, or whatever else we’re reading about that day) under our belts.
Oh, that sounds inviting, doesn’t it?! It definitely got me thinking.
Then, around New Year’s, I read a terrific article from Thomas Jefferson education about Winter’s Educational Superfood. More good stuff in there than I can cover in this post, but it was further motivation for me to want to switch things up with our routine!
So last week, as we got back into official school stuff, I started calling the Blessings out to the living room first thing in their morning. Now, my morning starts long before theirs, as Jonathan leaves for work about 45 minutes before most of them wake. I use the gap for studying of my own, or a quick nap, or trying to get some of my computer stuff out of the way before they begin their day, or even making breakfast for them! But when I’m ready for them to begin their day, I call everyone to the living room and we begin. So for me, starting early is less about time-early and more about first-thing early.
We are reading I John 1 this month, one of them reading it from my Kindle each morning. By the end of the month, it should be somewhere between very familiar and memorized. And since there are five chapters in I John, the book will fit in nicely by the end of our “official” school year.
After we read our Bible chapter, we read a chapter from a classic. Right now we are enjoying Little Women. Not sure what will come next, but I think all the Blessings and I are enjoying it.
While I read, they usually eat breakfast (if something’s ready), or one of the older Blessings quietly fixes something, then they eat. It seems so much easier to move on to other studying and work after starting our day together with a cozy read.
And, a treasure for you from this morning’s read. I found this so resonated with me that it was difficult to make it through the paragraph as I read aloud to the Blessings this morning…
“If I don’t seem to need help, it is because I have a better friend, even than father, to comfort and sustain me. My child, the troubles and tempations of your life are beginning, and may be many; but you can overcome and outlive them all if you learn to feel the strength and tenderness of your Heavely Father as you do that of your earthly one. The more you love and trust Him, the nearer you will feel to Him, and the less you will depend on human power and wisdom. His love and care never tire or change, can never be taken from you, but may become the source of lifelong peace, happiness, and strength. Believe this heartily, and go to God with all your little cares, and hopes, and sins, and sorrows, as freely and confidingly as you come to your mother.” ~~ Marmee to Jo in chapter 8 of Little Women, “Jo Meets Apollyon” ~~ Louisa May Alcott
Maybe you’d like to try it? Maybe you have found something different that is fabulous for your family? I’d love to hear about what morning routine works for you!