So there you are, contemplating this Morning Time thing. You love the idea of everyone learning together. You want to have time for the delightful learning. You yearn for peaceful mornings.
But you don’t want it to be difficult to pull off, because, well, that’s just not cool.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be hard. The not so good news? It can be easy to sabotage your efforts with a few rookie mistakes. Lucky for you, I’ve made these myself, so I am here to be guide you through what to and not to do.
Here is my short list of things to avoid as you begin doing Morning Time and a few alternative ideas that work instead.
1. Starting too big
Sometimes you just want to go all-out with something. Pizza toppings, binge reading a new novel, the hidden chocolate stash. But sometimes it’s better to start small.
Morning Time is one of those times.
While it is exciting to try and jump right in with all the subjects — picture study, music, art, reading great books, a bit of ritual — that is a sure way to burn out quickly. Slow change is better. So I encourage you to begin with what you and your kids enjoy most and add slowly from there.
- Is music your thing? Try listening to a beautiful piece or multiple works of a single composer throughout the week.
- Do your kids love drawing? Find some YouTube tutorials on how to draw their favorite animals and jump right in.
- Maybe stories are what your kids love? Share some Aesop’s fables and then retell them in your own words, by drawing pictures, or by acting them out with stuffed animals.
Any of these would be a great way to begin a Morning Time habit. Once you have built the habit of that single activity, then add another to your daily plan. Before you know it you will have built a full daily schedule that you can’t imagine living without.
2. Not being prepared
Take a lesson from the Boy Scouts on this one. If you want a successful Morning Time then you have to have your stuff together — literally.
This is why the basket is such a great idea. Now, it doesn’t have to be an actual basket — it could be a plastic bin, a shelf, or even a tote bag — but the point is to put everything you need to do your Morning Time in one central, easy to reach location. This includes books, printouts, art supplies, CDs, or even digital files arranged in a single folder on your device.
I am not talking elaborate organization and plans here. I am talking one to three simple resources kept together in a single spot. Your job each morning is to pick one up, open to the next page, and go.
But what is missing is the decision fatigue of what to do next, and the need to locate materials while the natives lose interest and wander off to conquer new Lego worlds or fix their third breakfast.
Keeping things together will keep you on track.
3. Starting on the wrong foot.
Imagine the scene. Children are spread throughout the house involved in a variety of activities. This one is meticulously drawing a detailed scene on art paper, another is avoiding brushing his teeth, a third is practicing math facts with a fun computer game, and the toddler is tormenting the dog under the coffee table.
You enter this scene and begin trying to get everyone to stop what they are doing, come to the table to begin, and be quick about it.
You will do this beautiful new activity, by golly. So you wheedle, you cajole, you — dare I say it — yell trying to get them all together. And once you have everyone there and ready to start, the mood is anything but delightful or lovely. (Ask me how I know.)
Do this: start with a song instead. Turn on a family-favorite happy tune or upbeat praise and worship song (our current favorite is “And All the People Said Amen” by Matt Maher). Tell the kids that this is their signal that Morning Time is about to begin.
They can sing, they can dance on the table, but by the time the song is over, your expectation is they will have what they need, be where they need to be, and are ready to start.
No yelling needed. Relationships intact.
So my challenge to you? Choose a subject to do, gather your supplies in a single place, pick a song to play tomorrow morning, and just start.