About a year after I started homeschooling, I started hearing all about morning baskets.
It seemed that Pinterest was overrun with Morning Basket Ideas, Morning Basket Printables, Morning Basket Routines, and What’s in Our Morning Basket.
It was a bit overwhelming.
I hate going with a trend, so I was sort of anti morning baskets for awhile.
I didn’t know and didn’t care for a long time, until I read this article from Pam Barnhill about them.
Pam is an incredible homeschool blogger and podcaster, so if she blesses off on something – it’s going to get my attention.
The post completely changed my assumptions and thoughts on what a “proper” morning basket should be.
First of all, you don’t even need a basket!
Anything you want to put in the “basket” goes!
We don’t have to do poetry reading and memorization at 8am if we don’t want to!
Journaling (writing first thing would not go over well in our homeschool) is not required!
Suddenly, I realized I was the Queen of my morning basket (or morning time as we refer to it).
I decided we would give it a swing at the beginning of this school year when my kids were 3rd grade, kindergarten, and preschool.
I was definitely not married to the idea, but I thought there might be something to all the hype.
I started out with:
At night I would gather my materials, and stack them on our school bookshelf so they were ready to go in the morning.
No basket was actually used.
This is our third year homeschooling and I love how morning time has made us feel like a school – and not just one on one tutoring with mom.
Last year, the school day started with me assigning subjects for everyone to begin. I was just trying to control the chaos and keep everyone on track.
Now, our day starts completely differently.
I will be in the kitchen putting away breakfast dishes and I’ll hear the kids start to say, “Come on! Pick out your books – it’s almost time for morning time!”
Everyone comes together on the couch with books in hand and ready to learn – ready to start the day!
I love that they are no longer individuals learning, but a group. I love that we can all talk about the same things we are learning and apply them together throughout our day.
We consistently start every day now with family devotions and prayer – that is a very new thing.
In years past, I did a Bible curriculum with my oldest, but I never seemed to find the extra time to consistently fit in devotions with my younger children.
Yes, I was ashamed.
One of the main reasons I wanted to homeschool was to be a strong spiritual influence on my children – but I was often too busy to remember our 5 minute devotional! Sigh.
I love that a structured morning time now makes devotions and prayer time a priority for us! It is so much easier to keep up with.
My kids no longer see me being inconsistent and not prioritizing God’s Word.
As I said, before we started morning time – we would just dive into our school work.
In hindsight, it was a little like jumping into cold water for my kids.
Having a morning time is now like a warm up for them! We are all just snuggled on the couch and reading together – nobody resists joining in!
Once the reading is done, it feels like we are all primed for the day ahead, ready to break apart, and start learning more!
What more could a homeschool mom ask for, right?
So, there is a little bit of a dark side to morning time that some blogs may not choose to shine a light on.
As I said, I have a 3rd grader, kindergartner, and preschooler. They are all about 2.5 years apart in age, but that is still very broad developmentally.
They all have different interests, learning styles, and personalities.
A book or subject that holds my 3rd grader’s attention is often way over my preschooler’s head.
At first I was fine with my preschooler (and sometimes kindergartner) moving around and playing quietly while I was reading…but it quickly got out of control and became a huge distraction to any learning.
The other kids would consistently lose focus as they wondered what the preschooler was doing, what she was into, and if it belonged to them. Whining and fights would break out and everyone was on edge while I tried to get to the end of the reading.
Not so much learning going on.
To put the whole situation in perspective for an adult – imagine if you were in a church listening to an interesting sermon.
Then an adult decides he doesn’t want to sit, he wants to stand up.
And maybe he wants to move around a little – quietly.
Maybe he walks around the room while doodling on a bulletin with a pen.
Maybe he decides to change his clothes into a knight costume.
And then flip open a book about super heroes.
How much of that sermon would you have heard and remembered?
Or would you have been guilty of watching the man walking around?
Imagine how much harder it would be for a kid to stay focused in that situation.
That was our problem.
The other problem created was when little ones were not disruptive – they just walked away.
Worst case scenario they got into something they shouldn’t, and I had to leave the couch to chase after them and save their lives.
But a lot of times my kids would wander to their rooms and get lost in appropriate play.
School was over in their minds and they had moved on.
I quickly discovered that it was VERY difficult to pull them from their new activity and convince them that they needed to restart school with me.
If morning time did not engage them, I nearly needed a forklift to get them back in gear for school.
I felt like this really went against what I had been told before – “Do school with the little ones FIRST, or it just won’t get done.”
So, so true.
No matter how well you try to manage your time and commitments, some days school is rushed.
The most important things (reading, writing, and math) need to get done because an unexpected errand came up, we got a late start to the day for any number of reasons, an emergency came up, or whatever.
The morning basket can feel like one more thing piled on my to do list.
It’s a nice to have, but it is not essential.
When I tell my kids now that we only have time for devotions, I get all kinds of whining and moaning about all the extra reading they want me to do.
Yes, it’s good that they enjoy the reading,…but sometimes it sets my day back and I really need that time for something else.
The short answer is yes. We love the benefits of morning time, but we have made some significant adjustments.
I no longer try to fit in any enrichment subjects (geography, science, history, etc.). It just makes it too long and it’s too difficult to hold everyone’s attention.
Those are all done later in the day with my 3rd grader – the little ones can join or not join.
Here is what our morning time consists of:
That is all they can handle and that is okay.
In the future, I can see how our morning time will include more subjects and activities.
I imagine myself with a beautiful basket and all my children circled around me as we joyfully read fascinating books about history, science, and literature.
There will be poetry, gratitude journaling, and stimulating discussion.
It will be glorious…but it’s just not going to happen this year.
If you are toying with the idea of a morning basket, I would absolutely recommend it!
In fact, here are two really smart posts on how to get started with your morning basket and 100 of the best poems to memorize during morning time!
Be careful though of trying to fit in all the things you think NEED to happen.
Just because your friend or some blogger loves the idea of doing this or that, doesn’t mean it has to work for you.
Success will equal whatever works best (and most peaceful) for your homeschool.
Don’t be afraid to shape and manipulate that basket to serve you and your homeschool!