morning time.

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A few of you have asked if we use Morning Time in our home school. I love the idea of it, but haven’t successfully incorporated it into our rhythm yet, so I thought I’d ask my friend Kelly to tell you about her experience.

I also wanted to separate this post from my homeschool series, because I actually think anyone can do Morning Time! It could happen any time of day. I plan to work hard to create a routine like this for our summer, to give our mornings some structure.

And now, here’s Kelly . . .

It all started 2 1/2 years ago on a drive to my aunt’s house for July 4th weekend.  As an introvert traveling with noisy children, I had my headphones in and was listening to an interview I had stumbled upon between Andrew Kern of the Circe Institute and Sarah Mackenzie of Read Aloud Revival.  They were discussing the idea of teaching from a state of rest and the importance of not approaching the education of our children from a place of panic and anxiety to check off the growing list of boxes on our to-do list each day (here is the podcast).

This talk of anxiety and long to-do lists resonated deeply with me because I daily fight against my type-A personality. I was a deeply ingrained overachiever in school when I was a student.  I was hanging on their every word and eager to drink in more of their wisdom.  The idea of “Morning Time” was brought up and the name Cindy Rollins, who most consider the inventor of this genius and beautiful idea.

Essentially Morning Time was a time set aside in the day that Cindy gathered her children together to cover areas of their curriculum most filled with truth, beauty and goodness.  These are the subjects that with time constraints and daily stresses, are easily pushed aside and yet they can be the nourishment that our souls, minds and hearts need the most.

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Well I knew then and there that I had to incorporate this idea into our homeschool day and quickly began to look into what elements I wanted for us to cover together.

The beauty of Morning Time is that you can tailor it uniquely to your family.  As with most things, it is wise to start slowly and then build on your routine rather than trying to fit in all the inspiring subjects at the beginning and overwhelm your kids and stress yourself out.  In our home with a daughter in third grade and a son who is 2 1/2 this is what Morning Time looks like for us.

* Start by saying the Pledge of Allegiance

* Recite Charlotte Mason’s motto “I Am, I Can, I Ought, I Will”
“I am …. a child of God, a gift to my parents and my country. I’m a person of great value because God made me.

        I can …. do all things through Christ who strengthens me. God has made me able to do everything required of me.

        I ought …. to do my duty to obey God, to submit to my parents and everyone in authority over me, to be of service to others, and to keep myself healthy with proper food and rest so my body is ready to serve.

        I will …. resolve to keep a watch over my thoughts and choose what’s right even if it’s not what I want.”

* Recite a Creed choosing from the Apostles’ Creed, Nicene Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Gloria Patri or Doxology.  This element was important to me, because our daughter sits in the service each week at our church and I wanted         her to be actively participating in the liturgy and familiar with the words.

* Sing a hymn

* Recite a passage of Scripture we are learning together.  Right now we are working on the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23.

* Review Catechism questions

* Review memory work.  We are currently memorizing “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud” by William Wordsworth

* Read poetry by a poet we are studying each term.  Our current poet is William Blake.

* Recite a family motto.  I drew these from Sally Clarkson’s “24 Family Ways”. One example is “We are generous with what we have, sharing freely with others.

* Finally, we read a passage from The Child’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos

Although this may look like a lot, this whole routine usually only takes us thirty minutes and on average we do this three days a week.

We gather around the kitchen table with our individual Morning Time binders which contain everything we need for our routine so everything is streamlined.  Since my youngest is only 2 1/2 he does not actively participate in this routine but is with us so he can soak in the truth being spoken and also start learning the routine so he can join us as he gets older.

These days his participation looks like shouting “America!” after we say the Pledge and then clapping for us when we finish singing a hymn.  The rest of the time I attempt to keep his hands busy with paper and crayons, sticker books, puzzles or snacks.

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When I first began Morning Time as part of our homeschool day two years ago, I wondered if it would truly impact my daughter with a love for virtuous things or if she would just find it boring.

Over time as we steadily committed to it day by day, I caught glimpses of how it was impacting her heart.  These glimpses came through hearing her singing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” from her bedroom or watching her attempt to climb a tree to play out the poem “Foreign Lands” by Robert Louis Stevenson that we had read.

On a recent road trip I looked back into the backseat to offer an activity to pass the time and she told me she’d rather look out the window at the beautiful clouds and fields.  It is through these and other peeks into her heart that I am seeing that she is learning already how to slow down and take in the beauty of what God has created.

Morning Time has been a discipline that teaches both of us to not just tackle the day’s to-do list, but instead to linger together over what is true, beautiful and good and allow our hearts to be fed.  As we do this together it knits our hearts together and gives us a shared experience that tightens our bond.

Homeschooling is hard work and I have to admit on many mornings when we are reciting our own liturgy at home, my heart is having to repent from the impatience or harsh tones that I may have already exhibited that day.  It gives me the opportunity to pause and change course and get back on track and receive fresh grace and forgiveness.

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I encourage anyone who wants to take time during the day to pause with their family and sit together taking in truth, beauty and goodness that it is worth the effort.  It could be as simple as reading a poem each night at dinner or memorizing a verse together every day for a month and discussing it.  It doesn’t have to be formal or complicated.  The dailiness is what makes it special and powerful.

Since listening to that first podcast interview, I have gleaned ideas and wisdom from many others who are also utilizing this liturgy in their homes.  Here are some resources below if you want to dive in further and investigate for yourself:

The Circe Institute has available for pre-order a book specifically on Morning Time by its creator, Cindy Rollins.  It’s available here.

* Mystie Winkler of the blog Simply Convivial has a great post on how to get started with Morning Time, including her memory work lists, her own plans and many other resources.  You can find that here.

*Allison Burr did a very informative series on her blog about Morning Time with videos of her family and lots of resources.  You can find that here.

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