I don’t know about your house but mornings in our house can be a bit crazy. Everyone getting up, getting dressed, chores, taking care of animals, breakfast, entertaining the toddler, and getting started on school all take time and sometimes seem to leave us feeling a little out of sorts or behind. However, I try to remind myself that our schedule is there to help us but not rule over us. We need to put effort into keep things on track but still be flexible to the needs around us.
Sometimes by the time we get finished with all of that it feels like we need to dive right into our ‘core’ subjects and skip the extras. Especially if I think about the house cleaning, activities, and other things that need to happen that afternoon. Not to mention all the people in this house seem to think we should eat at least three meals a day (not counting 2nd breakfast, snack, etc).
As tempting as it is to skip all the extras, those ‘extras’ are often the things that enrich and set apart our education. They are things we enjoy studying together and they add life and dimension to our school days. That doesn’t mean I never skip them or that we need to do them everyday. Rather it is important to me to find a way to make sure we were including them in our studies. Thus I began our version of morning basket. Morning basket is not a new term or idea but I’d like to tell you how we use ours, what we are including this year, and how it enriches our family.
Loop scheduling has really helped us ‘fit it all in’ without being overwhelmed and without being a slave to our schedule. Some days the extras just don’t happen because life happens. Whether that is a sick child, a busy schedule, an unexpected need, or any of the other day to day things that throw off our schedule I don’t want our plans to be wrecked. Learning about loop scheduling and how to use it really changed things for us because it gave us the flexibility to roll with those things without letting others slip through the cracks. Instead of scheduling each of our ‘extras’ for a certain time or day we simply have them on the list and when we have time we do the next thing or two on the list. If we miss a day we don’t miss something on the list it simply gets done the next day. Tauna Meyer at Proverbial Homemaker has some great blog posts and even a course that is only $10 this month that teaches how to use a loop schedule.
So, how do I use loop scheduling and a morning basket to fit in our ‘extras’ and still keep everything mostly sane? In our morning basket we keep our composer, artist, hymn, missionary, and poet study. I aim to go in depth into at least one person from each category each year. If we finish our study of that person with enough time we may do a second one. In this way we cover a variety and give them enough exposure to know some of the classics and to be able to enjoy and research others on their own as their interests dictate. We also include our Bible and our prayer cards in our morning basket but those are done each day not on our loop schedule. The book we are currently reading is also in the basket to be read aloud as time permits. This is often three or 4four days a week although, we would prefer every day.
For our missionary study we are starting this year with Mary Slessor. We use the Christian Hero’s Then and Now series as well as the To Every Nation Missionary Study from Not Consumed. Last year we only used the book and the children loved it, but I’m looking forward to adding the study to our reading.
For our Composer and Artist studies we use the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers and Artists series respectively. We also adapt Composer and Artist studies from Confessions of a Homeschooler. This year we are excited to study John Philip Sousa and Georgia O’Keefe. If time allows I am hoping to spend some time on Duke Ellington during our spring semester. During our time of studying them, we will listen to their music often, sometimes even in the background while we work. For our artist, we will hang examples of their work around our school area so that we become familiar with their work. In this way what we learn seems to last in our minds and we are able to recognize the works when we see or hear them as we go through life. We supplement our composer studies with the wonderful series of symphonies that our North Carolina Symphony does each year for children. Three events that all incorporate both a musical and visual element (actors, ballet, etc). In the picture above taken at one performance Darth Vader took over the symphony and began conducting. I highly recommend looking in your area for similar programs or even free local concerts to encourage a love of music. If you live near a college they often hold free or really inexpensive concerts preformed by music students who are very talented.
We enjoy the Poetry for Young People series for our poetry studies. To supplement those books I can often find other information on-line about the poet or further examples of their works. This year we are studying Robert Frost. We will read through his biographical information and some of his works throughout the year. We will also have at least a couple of ‘poetry tea times’ where we bring a favorite poem to the table and enjoy reading to one another while we enjoy snacks and drinks from our tea cups.
This year we are trying something new for hymn studies, instead of going in depth into a few hymns we are going to go through the Thomas Kincade book “Glorious Refrains”. This book has a collection of hymns with their stories. My goal is to do one or two each month. We will listen to and sing the hymn as well as learn about the story behind the hymn. Not Consumed also has some wonderful hymn study resources that we have used in the past.
The American Story is a collection of history stories that are included chronologically. I intend to use this book to read aloud in conjunction with our history lessons as time allows.
Our Bible is included as we try to spend time each day as a family in Bible study. Sometimes going through a specific devotional, sometimes reading on a topic that we are dealing with as a family, and sometimes just reading the Proverb of the day.
Finally, in the picture of our morning basket, you saw a plastic sorted folder. In this we keep all of our Christmas Cards that we received from the previous year. Each Day we choose a couple of cards and we pray over those families during our prayer time in addition to any other needs that are on our hearts. This has been a great way to keep the children engaged and remember our friends and family in a specific but not overwhelming way.
Each morning (typically morning but it could be afternoon depending on our schedule) we will take out the basket. We start with Bible and prayer as our priorities and then we will look on our loop schedule and see what is next and cover that for the day. We can repeat this each day and not worry that anything is being neglected if we have to skip a day because we will simply pick up where we left off on the next day. This is a time we can work together as a family, the children enjoy listening to me read aloud, they learn a lot about a variety of subjects, and it helps get our day off to a better start. If you are looking for a way to include those ‘extras’ or simplify your morning I hope you will give this idea a try.
I’d love to hear what ‘extra’ you have a hard time including or what ideas you have for getting it all done. Leave me your thoughts in the comments.
I’d also love to have you sign up for access to our free Resource Library and bi-weekly newsletter. Simply click on the link and sign-up and you will receive an e-mail with the link and password to our library of free resources. I am adding new resources each month.
This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog