A happy life must be to a great extent a quiet life, for it is only in an atmosphere of quiet that true joy dare live
– Bertrand Russell
After 8 years of educating my children I can wholly confirm that the atmosphere and rhythms of our home are critical for the flow, discipline and peace in our day. My recent personal motto is ‘I’m at my best from a place of rest’, if this works for me, it must also work for my children and the atmosphere they are learning in.
I’m at my best from a place of rest
We all know that how we start our day is pretty influential to how it unfolds; whether you’re a ‘morning person’ or not, I’m
afraid pleased to tell you that you mama are the culture creator and pace setter in your home!
Our morning routine was established early in our homeschooling life, I’ve only recently discovered that it’s a ‘thing’; not purely taken from a Charlotte Mason method or paradigm but it definitely fits with her ‘short lesson’ philosophy. I wanted to gather my children, capture their hearts at the beginning of the day, centre ourselves on Jesus and bring clear communication before the hustle and bustle of the day began. I can’t speak for a movement or whether this stems from the original PNEU timetables but I can speak for the impact of a morning gathering upon our family and our home educating.
“The habits of the child are, as it were, so many little hammers beating out by slow degrees the character of a man.”
– Charlotte Mason
What we do
Monday to Friday everyone must be up, dressed and beds made by 8.30am (often slips to 9am by Friday #keepitreal ); we immediately gather around the table after making smoothies/juices, eggs or toast and of course a pot of tea (and a complete mess of the kitchen!).
So here’s my morning tick list (it’s in my head, and also a habit):
- Read the bible – we’re working through the Old Testament so after years of purely reading from an NIV or NLT I decided to try the Catherine F Vos’s ‘The Child’s Story Bible’, it came highly recommended by other CM educators and we’re loving it!
- Scripture memorisation – we learn one a week and kind of use a similar system to the Simply Charlotte Mason ‘scripture memory system‘, I pick out a bunch of verses that I’d like us to learn and then we copy/type, print and stick them to an index card. I write one a week on the blackboard in our dining room and we recite it every morning until we all know it without looking.
- Catechism – I’ve downloaded the app for the ‘New City Catechism‘ onto my phone and we’re going through the version for children. We just do one a week, recite the relevant one each day and recap on a Monday morning.
- Briefing – for some of my children it’s really important that they know the details of what’s going on at each moment of the day, even down to mine and my husband’s plans for the evening, so I brief them every day on the next 24 hours. The clearer our expectations and communication is with our children the less their need for insecurity in the home and frustration is (for the most part!). We go through their work for the day (practical and academic) as well as details of any outings, meetings or additional work I need to do.
- News/appreciation/thanks – especially on a Friday I like to encourage them on great things I’ve observed in their work and character throughout the week, I love seeing their huge smiles and it’s a great way to teach gratitude and to show them how important encouragement is.
- Pray – everyone prays, we do it in age order and I use this time to teach my children how to pray, connect with God and each other, how to stay focussed and grow in their worship and expression. We always start with thanksgiving and I bring instruction/ideas of things we can be praying for as well as giving them an opportunity to share what’s on their heart.
The ‘items’ listed above always happen, the following list are things that happen occasionally, once or twice a week maybe depending on how close to 8.30am we started (smile!)
- Worship – YouTube is great for this; I just play a familiar worship song or teach them a new one over a few days. We sing along!
- Poetry – I mostly read our poetry over lunch time and the children use poetry for their copy work every day but if we’ve hit a new season/month or we’ve observed something amazing in nature before breakfast (sunrise, Coal tit in the yard, spider on the window etc.) I’ll find a relevant poem to read and inspire.
- Bible facts – I try to regularly teach my children basic information (often through song) about the bible; i.e. books of the bible, 10 commandments, names of disciples etc.
We generally don’t take any longer than an hour over our morning gathering and our time is followed by chores before everyone gets their heads down to study, but that’s all for another blog post!
So I’d love to hear from you – how does your morning gathering look? How has it impacted your learning atmosphere?