As a homeschooling mom, I can pretty much be flexible in my approach to teaching my child. Currently, I am the teacher in this home school, so my level of control over the activities is high.
I do the scheduling, I set up routines, and guess what, I can even innovate and forget about the homeschool planner altogether.
But on those days when there are no unexpected events and sudden life changes, we pretty much follow a routine.
But let me just say that though most of the time I try to be flexible, and routines for me are open to adjustment (say, the time we start and the time we end, or the time I give to her to finish an activity, or whether I just want her to soak up just two or three subjects a day instead of more), I swear by the importance of having a morning routine to jump-start your home school day. For me, it is one of the non-negotiables!
The Homeschool Morning Basket
Routines are important for my little girl. She is a stickler to schedule. And she honors her To Do List (every box must be checked by her during the day). I don’t need an alarm, I don’t need a reminder — my child is there!
So in the morning, she reminds me of our basket before I try to dive into Math, our first subject. She loves Math, and she enjoys her workbook BUT she’s got a schedule and she loves reminding Mom that the basket comes first.
Isn’t that amazing? 🙂
We are a Christian homeschooling family so we believe to “seek first” the kingdom of the Lord before doing anything else. And our morning basket reflects just that — for after all, we know that we were made to do all for the glory of Him in whom we live and move and breathe!
A Short Background of the Basket
The concept of the morning basket is not new. I got it from seasoned homeschoolers who also blog about how it helped them with their homeschool.
Most of the moms who have praises for the morning basket follow the Charlotte Mason approach to educating the child. The morning basket puts to practice the theory of Mason that children need “liturgy” even in the homeschool. The liturgical atmosphere, when injected in the homeschool, helps prepare the teacher’s and the student’s heart and minds for the day of study. It not only sets the pace, but also reminds everyone of the reason why we homeschool.
Cindy Rollins (who coined the name “Morning Time”), Pam Barnhill (seasoned blogger), Sarah Mackenzie (author of Teaching From Rest) are key proponents of the Mason-inspired approach.
My Basket Raid Challenge
The books in my basket are the following:
An Old Hymn Book (from my husband)
I have a hymn for every week and we sing it before we open in prayer and later, to close in prayer to conclude our morning time.
Tip: To gently usher in the day, I play the hymn through YouTube and she knows that by the time it is finished she is where she needs to be and ready to start.
Frequently, though not always, we get acquainted with the hymn writer, and look a little into his/her background. Once, we read a few pages of Fanny Crosby’s biography. This my daughter enjoyed so much as it made the beloved hymn writer come alive to her.
The Holy Bible (Zonderkids, NIrV Version)
She uses an “adult” Bible at this point. She calls it an adult Bible because it has the Old and the New Testament in it and it’s heavy. 🙂
It’s never too early to teach her how to look up a chapter and a verse from the Holy Bible. Like a Look and Find Book, I make her “hunt” for the passage and find that adds a bit of excitement to our Bible reading.
To prepare her for this task, I taught her a song which I learned from my aunt the lyrics of which enumerates the books of the New Testament in order. As for the Old Testament, she starts at the Table of Contents.
Ultimately, it is really my hope that as my child reads the Bible, she will learn more about Jesus, trust in Him, and make the Bible her go-to book for faith and practice as she grows up.
Adventures in Other Lands (A Beka Book)
This book is actually a Speed and Comprehension Reader by A Beka. It’s for Grade 4 students but since my daughter loves it and I find that she is already around this level in her reading and comprehension skills (though she’s still in the First Grade), I see no harm in using it now. (Flexibility, remember?)
What I like about this book by Matilda Nordtvedt are the stories of missionaries, and children from non-Christian countries who trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ no matter the cultural challenges involved in doing so.
The stories are short, many times wrought with taleas of adventure and danger, but the message is clear and it is just what we need to be encouraged in our faith journey.
You Can Change the World by Jill Johnstone (OM Lit)
An old book sourced from a thrift shop. I love this book because like Adventures in Other Lands, it helps my child learn to pray for people around the world. Character, Bible, History and Geography are all integrated here when we study this book, along with Adventures in Other Lands, Young Learner’s Festivals and Celebrations (Young Learner’s Publications) and the Dorling Kindersley Picture Atlas (which we also have in our basket).
The Christian Mother Goose Treasury by Marjorie Ainsborough Decker (C.M.G. Productions, Inc.)
Here, I choose a poem with a character/moral focus related to The Family Book of Manners that we also use in our Morning Basket. I just read a page of the latter, say, about the importance of taking care of the body we live in (page 27) and then go to a poem from The Christian Mother Goose Treasury to illustrate a point.
My daughter loves poetry, whether it is read to her or when she reads poetry by herself. Frequently, I read a poem appropriate for our topic and then she volunteers to read one she chooses.
How you do your morning basket depends upon your persuasion and presuppositions (beliefs) and your time. As for the materials, if you think you don’t have the books you need for this, don’t worry — there are lots of resources from the internet which you can print out, or read from your tablet or laptop. You may also play songs from YouTube but do make sure that these are not videos that will distract your child from focusing on your message for the day.
After all, the morning basket is an aid to student focus and concentration, as well as a tool to set a comfortable pace for the entire homeschool day. Digital addiction is real and if screen time is not managed early in the morning, it could adversely affect the tone and the direction of your homeschool.
In a nutshell, I say the Morning Basket is a gentle breeze that gives a boat a push as it leaves the harbor at daybreak. It is simple, it is short (we do it for one hour, that for us is short!) and it is sweet as we start the day in the presence of the one from Whom all blessings flow.