One thing I learned quickly as a new homeschooler was the importance of a morning routine. Starting the day together talking about the calendar, the weather, and some of our lighter curriculum fare seems to set a positive mood for the rest of our day. It’s like a morning meeting at work without the uncomfortable clothes and people you don’t like.
Now, that’s not to say all of our mornings are sunshine and roses. Captain Cloudy Cactus could be the mascot for many of our days. But we stick with it because it works (most of the time) and is a good way to reinforce the security of routine, which helps our kids thrive.
Whether you spend a little or a lot of time on your morning routine, I’ve found the effort is worth it. This year I decided to start calling our morning time “morning meetup” because, well, I’m a sucker for alliteration (if you couldn’t already tell by my use of ‘Captain Cloudy Cactus’).
What We Do
Our morning meetup starts at 9:00 a.m. (okay 9:30…or 10:00) after we’ve had breakfast and I’ve finished my first, usually cold, cup of coffee. The kids grab their binders, I get my morning basket, and we gather in the living room.
Calendar: The first thing we discuss is our daily schedule. I let the kids know what’s on the agenda for that day as far as tasks and extracurricular activities, and we also talk briefly about the rest of the week. If there are any major holidays coming up, I usually can’t move on without mentioning how many days until said holiday arrives. Our calendar also has a spot for the weather, so we mention that as well.
Devotional: We read from our daily devotional and discuss the topic as needed.
Story: We read a short picture book each morning, typically something we’ve checked out from the library the week before. Sometimes the story is related to the season or to something we’re learning, and sometimes it’s completely random. I usually do the reading, but D-Man or KD will offer to read from time to time.
Vocabulary: I introduce a new vocabulary word at least every other day. Doing this in the morning gives us the chance to find opportunities throughout the day to use our new word.
Music: We do music lessons on Mondays and Wednesdays. We started using SQUILT this year, which stands for Super Quiet Uninterrupted Listening Time. There are various program options, some grouped by time period and others by composer. The lessons are simple and effective, which makes them great for a short morning routine.
Art: Tuesdays and Thursdays are for art. We’ve started the year by reading 13 Artists Every Child Should Know. I supplement the information in the book with Pinterest activities and, sometimes, a DVD. Our library has the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists series, which we’ve really liked. If there’s a hands-on art project to go along with our lesson, I typically save that for the afternoon. This gives the kids motivation to complete their other (think most boring) work first, since they can’t stand the thought of missing out on a project.
Why It Works (at least for us)
Quick and easy is the name of our game. Keeping our morning meetup short (30 minutes max) is the key to drama-free (okay, drama-less) mornings. Alternating music and art keeps the schedule compact. The kids know what to expect from the day and have their chance to ask questions before we dive into anything else. It also helps to start our day in the living room where we’re relaxed and comfortable. Our morning work doesn’t feel like work, and that makes all the difference.
What type of morning routine works in your house?