One of my main goals this year is to find life-giving routines that lead well into formal homeschooling this fall and make our days smoother. We haven’t had a lot of routine this past year, so I’m enjoying the process of adding some. You can read my previous posts about routines here and here.
For February, I wanted to make our morning time more official. The idea of morning time (from what I understand) is a time to come together at the start of the day and enjoy some of the riches of education that might get otherwise left behind in the busyness of the day.
For the last few years, we have often done prayer, Bible reading and stories at breakfast. Last year, we often included a hymn. So my boys are familiar with the concept. But I wanted to make it more formal—something that we can stay consistent with.
Daily Subjects + Loop Subjects
I first wrote out the subjects I wanted to cover daily: prayer calendar, memory verses, calendar time, poetry, hymns, Spanish, and Bible reading. I also added math, but we have actually been doing that later in the day. Then I wrote out the subjects we could do on a loop or on separate days of the week. They are: art, composer/music study, nature study, journal-writing, and picture study.
I made a document that outlines the order we will do these things and includes (on the same page) our topic for each of the loop days. I printed this out and put it in a notebook that also has helpful things like the pictures we are studying, lyrics to Spanish songs, hymns with their chords and lyrics, and anything else I find that we need to have at our fingertips. It’s pretty simple, but it has made all the difference in keeping me consistent.
I usually fill in the next week’s chart on Sunday afternoon so I know what to focus on. It helps me to have it all on one sheet.
Loop Subjects and Resources
In case you’re curious, here are the resources I’m using for our loop subjects.
Music/Composer Study: We use the Ambleside Online schedule and are currently listening to Purcell. We often listen in the background. I’m also using this book and this one to encourage us to listen better.
Nature Study: I absolutely love Exploring Nature with Children. We have used it loosely for about a year and a half. It has greatly increased my knowledge of the natural world (maybe mostly teaching me what questions to ask and what to look for). This month, we did some sketching outside, but I’ve found that sitting at the table and picking something from the nature table to sketch works best. Last week, my younger son has been interested in squirrels so we read about them in this incredible book and then found pictures to sketch.
Journaling: My mom wrote journals for us as kids, and I think this led to my love of writing. I still love to read the entries she transcribed word for word. I have a small, blank book for each boy, and I sometimes suggest a topic (often from A Year of Playing Skillfully) and other times, I let them tell me about their day or whatever they like. This week my five-and-a-half-year-old wanted to take a picture of his LEGO creation and then write about it. The end their entries with the phrase “Mashed potitoes” which one of them said by accident once and the other one thought was hilarious.
How It Shakes Out
We don’t always accomplish everything each day or even in the morning. Usually we do nature study in the afternoon, and we sometimes do two loop items in one day. One of the best benefits of this has been seeing my boys memorize Scripture. I think I underestimated what they are capable of until we started being consistent and adding hand motions. I’ve also loved how they start to ask, “What new picture are we looking at this week?” Or “When can we journal?”
The only struggle has been balancing this with their morning chores and a baby who is usually ready for a nap at some point in there. This pretty much goes the way you would picture it going with two small children and a baby. But this overall structure is still helping a lot, and I’m excited to see it evolve over time. I don’t think it’s a clear formula, but it does help us dip our toes into some topics. Perhaps most importantly, it is helping increase our thirst for knowledge (especially my own!).
Next month, I’m hoping to find a way to incorporate daily exercise and/or create a better morning routine for myself.