We have been “officially” homeschooling for 6 years, and every day has been unique.
Every day the children are one day older and desire to learn more. I have an “ideal” start to our week-day mornings carefully considered and planned; but if the children have engaged themselves in interesting work before I have put my own morning plan into action, I defer to their choices. I got out of the shower recently one morning to hear four silent children – an impressive sound, let me tell you – and the recording of The Wizard of Oz. My 5yo had found it on the computer and hit “play” and my 7yo pulled the book off the shelf to follow along. For a full 90 minutes, they all listened with rapt attention. Just like the saying, “never wake a sleeping baby,” there’s the Montessori saying, “never interrupt a child who is concentrating on something.” My plans can almost always wait. This takes humility and patience and trust in the child’s ability to know what he needs to learn.
In ten years of parenting, I can really only recall one time I actually woke a child up in the morning, and that was because we were leaving town at the crack of dawn. It is hands-down one of the greatest blessings of homeschooling that our children get to wake up when they are done sleeping. They wake up rested, and inevitably from about 8:30 until 11:30, they are focused and energetic and interested in anything new. This is the three-hour period that Montessori wrote about. After lunch and a break, the ages 6 and up can be ready to work for another three hours. Of course, by “work” I mean freely chosen activities like water-painting for an hour, reading a book for an hour, and creating new board games for an hour. And then taking a break.
But back to mornings. Our best mornings here are when MOM is up about an hour before the kids, has hit the treadmill, showered, read the daily readings, and gotten a jump on coffee and breakfast. Our best mornings here are also when MOM has gotten all of the planned school-work set out the night before. Unfortunately, this mom isn’t always on top of her game. We do have a good routine of “morning chores” pretty well established, however:
- breakfast (push in your chair and put your dishes by the sink)
- get dressed (put your pajamas away)
- brush teeth
- make your bed
Then the kids ages 4 and up (which is all of them now!) head into our classroom. You can call it group time, or circle time, or just plain ‘ole school time. We have started calling it “having a meeting” – I think because daddy talks about going to meetings at work, so the kids are used to hearing about meetings! Here is a PDF of our current morning classroom routine:
We incorporate a few weird things like balancing because I’ve studied enough neurobiology to think that balancing (on one foot, or walking on a balance beam) encourages alertness. We say the Pledge, we pray, we sing. As a group. We don’t do everything on my list, just what seems appropriate for the day. Last year, every single time I read out of our children’s bible (linked below) the kids begged for more and more. This year we are reading from our St. Joseph Picture Book of Saints set.
After our “meeting” is over, you can see the rest of our daily schedule here. The post about our Song of the Week is here and the post about our Catechesis Memory Program is here. We are reading aloud, as a group, the basic science text Behold & See 2 this year.
When I prepare well and get up on time, we have a good homeschool morning. How about you? How do you like to start your school days?