I shied away from doing a formal homeschool Morning Time with my children for a very long time. I have always had a short time of Bible and Read Aloud that we do nearly every day, but adding in poetry or art or music or nature study to that time slot with my supersized family didn’t feel doable.
Related post: Making Morning Time Easy
For a short time, I was able to make an Afternoon Tea Time work for getting those extras in, but that eventually fell apart because I just didn’t have the time and mental capacity to keep up with it. I had babies, I had toddlers, and I was homeschooling 5-7 other kids on top of that! At one point I decided the Morning Basket was all fine and dandy for a small family, but a mom teaching multiple ages just wasn’t going to be able to make this concept work.
Until this year…
God has been leading me toward a more Charlotte Mason-ish type homeschooling atmosphere over the past couple of years, and this year, I began looking at Morning Time again…wondering if it really could work with multiple ages. As with everything in my world, it needed a little tweaking, but for the past couple of months we have been enjoying a true Morning Basket experience with children ages 3-17, all at the same table!
Today, I want to share with you how you too can have a vibrant Morning Time with multiple ages of children in your homeschool!
1. Choose a time that isn’t hectic.
I know it’s called Morning Time, but if mornings are too hectic for you (fussy nursling ring a bell?), then don’t do a Morning Basket then! Choose a time of day that is calm-ish (is it ever truly calm in a house with multiple ages?!). It might even be evenings after baby has gone to bed! Really think through your day, and then choose a time frame that isn’t crazy town – you will be much more likely to make it work!
2. Choose subjects.
In my post on Making Morning Time Easy, I have a list of potential subjects and topics to cover. You want to choose 2-4 subjects, and that’s it! Don’t overdo it! You’ll want to fit everything in at once, but that will lead to burnout. Remember, the essence of Charlotte Mason is SHORT lessons. You want your children to enjoy Morning Time!
3. Choose a schedule.
There are a few different ways you can schedule your Morning Basket.
You can do the entire list every day. If you chose this schedule, it would look something like this:
Note: If you choose this schedule, it is imperative you choose very few subjects to cover. In my opinion, this schedule offers the least amount of flexibility, but allows for the greatest amount of consistency.
Related post: How to Make Read Aloud Time Peaceful
The term loop scheduling simply means your list rotates, and when you have worked your way all the way to the bottom of the list, you can rotate back to the top and start over. So, basically, you would make a list of all the subjects you want to cover, and then work your way through that list as you have time.
Note: While this type of schedule has the most flexibility and can manage a multitude of subjects, I would highly discourage you from going hog-wild with choosing topics to cover simply because you can. This schedule lacks natural consistency, and will quickly get out of hand if you don’t keep your list in check.
I recommend you take a look at Proverbial Homemaker’s Loop Scheduling Class to learn more about making Loop Schedules work in your home and homeschool.
Scheduled by Day:
This is how my favorite Morning Time pre-made plans are scheduled out (but you’ll see in a moment that I don’t follow them this way!). Basically, all this means is that on Monday you do these 4 subjects, on Tuesday, you do these 4 subjects, and so and so forth. It helps you to keep things straight. However, if you ever get off by a day, you might feel like you can’t get back on track, and that will derail you quicker than anything.
Blocked Loop Schedule:
This is what I do. It is a hybrid of Loop Scheduling and Scheduling by Day. I use The Homeschool Garden Morning Time Plans, and even though they are listed by day, I simply mark them off as I go. You can see how I do it in this VIDEO.
Related post: The Homeschool Garden Morning Time Review
4. Don’t over-schedule.
I mentioned this earlier, but it deserves another mention here. DO NOT try to cram too many things into your Morning Time! And if you get a few days or weeks into your schedule and feel overwhelmed, take something out and try it again, because more than likely, you have over-scheduled.
5. Don’t assume the topic is too young or too old for your kids.
This is one that people get hung up on because we’ve been brainwashed to believe that everything in the world is age-graded. But, it’s not. I can attest to the fact that my teenagers have had a blast doing projects from the preschooler’s curriculum, and vice-versa! Especially when Morning Time is kept short, it’s easy to keep everyone’s attention. The only thing I have found to be “too young” when it comes to Morning Time is Bible Study…and even this isn’t always the case. However, if you are reading from a young children’s version of a Bible storybook, it might be too young for your older children. The way I have fixed this is to put Bible reading at the end of our Morning Time and dismiss my older kids to their private Bible study at the end of our Morning Time.
6. Let them work at their level.
This is the flip side of what I discussed above. You can’t expect the same level of work from all of your children. For instance, in the Homeschool Garden plans, there is copywork for younger and older kids. If you are doing an art project, be sure to allow your younger kids to work at their pace and ability. Keep lessons short and interesting, and you will keep them focused. However, if they start to stray, let them. I don’t force anyone under the age of 6 to stay at the table. The 2-5 year olds flit in and out of our homeschool, and it works.
If you have any other questions about how we’ve made Morning Time work with multiple ages, feel free to ask in the comments section. I’ll also be doing a podcast soon on the topic, so some of your questions may end up answered in that podcast as well!