Dear reader, if you are CRAVING CALM for your Homeschool mornings, then this mini-series is for you! Here’s what you’ve missed so far:
- Homeschool Morning Makeover: from RUSHED to RELISHING! Saved *from* the bell and enjoying the journey!
- 12 Reasons to Consider “SLOW-STARTING” Your Day!
Pausing for breath. Pausing for beauty.
Our culture celebrates the fast, the furious, the frantic. We feed on speed. We jump at the chance to get “ahead” . . . in school, in work, in life. To accomplish this we rush everything — even childhood. We hurry our kids from errand to errand, activity to activity, event to event, milestone to milestone. We push our kids to start early, save (or skip) steps, and accelerate any time they possibly can. We stretch our kids tall, and stretch them thin. We often grow them wide, but we don’t often grow them deep.
In the noble effort to give our children every opportunity—to set them up for a bright future and successful adulthood—we take from them time for breath and beauty. We rob them of childhood. The chance to go and grow at their own unique pace. The chance to slowly, over time, become deeply rooted, deeply watered, abundant and flourishing.
And then there’s school. Standard education is often a childhood hothouse . . . a factory farm . . . a trans-curricular bullet train. Our children frequently become numbers on a sheet; slaves to a system obsessed with scores, achievement, and benchmarks. It’s a system of quantity over quality, destination over delight. And there is rarely time to pause, celebrate, or enjoy.
Too often we Homeschool families also adopt a home version of this rat-race education model. We too get caught up in more, better, faster; the lure of “accelerated learning.” Feeding the mind becomes our consuming focus, and we often forget to nourish the body and spirit with the same level of conviction.
But we are not raising brains alone. We are raising living, breathing, thinking, feeling beings. Let’s not neglect our children’s hearts, souls, hands, and often weary bodies in our pursuit to educate their minds . . as if there is no neck connecting the two. Instead, let’s apply the brakes and commit ourselves to a Holistic Homeschool mindset; educating the whole child and allowing them . . . gifting them . . . honoring them with ample time and space to grow their arms, legs, hearts, souls, and minds— deep and wide.
Let’s begin by taking back our mornings!
12 ways to “Slow-Start” your day:
If your family is still aboard our culture’s crazy bullet train of activities, acceleration, and achievement, I invite you to join us in choosing slow, celebrating slow, relishing slow. Together, let’s honor childhood and home education as a slow and sacred journey.
Please Note: the ideas below are not a checklist! Choose which “slow-starts” most appeal to you and/or your children. Indulge in a few “slow-starts” each and every morning, and feel free to switch it up from time to time.
Enjoy! Relish! Savor!
1.) WAKE UP NATURALLY
If it can possibly be afforded, waking up naturally is a divine practice, and I believe it’s nothing less than a gift from God for Homeschool families. I highly recommend giving it a try. Go to bed on time, or early if you’re feeling wild! Allow yourself to develop a healthy, natural waking routine. Usually, I wake up about a half hour or so before our kids do, and I’m able to do some yoga and journal before they come out. Regardless of who wakes up first, and despite whatever I am already involved in, my kids and I all get back in bed together to enjoy some early-morning snuggles for a few minutes before starting the day.
- Very early-riser children may need/be allowed to play quietly in their rooms upon waking until a specified “good morning” time.
- Tweens/teens may very likely never wake up on their own before noon. Ensure your teens are going to bed at a decent bedtime, realizing that teenagers often need as much sleep as toddlers! Consider indulging them with a lovely late wakeup, perhaps 9am, and enjoy long mornings to yourself or with your younger children.
2.) SNUGGLES AND CUDDLES (for littles) or CONNECT OVER COFFEE (for older kids)
Let’s start the day by holding our kids close . . . or at least holding them as close as they will let us. Time to connect with our children is a gift for us Homeschool parents. Let’s never squander it.
3.) DREAM SHARING, JOURNALING, or STORYWRITING
The first thing our son wants to do every day is tell me (in exhausting detail) any dreams he had that night, or dramatically rattle off any stories he has created in his mind since I kissed him goodnight. He begins recounting these dreams/stories during our snuggles and cuddles and then continues as he follows me around the house (often for twenty minutes or more) while I am preparing breakfast and starting the morning chores. I have found that when he isn’t given this time to spew out all that he has imagined through the night hours, he struggles to focus on his chores, lessons, or much of anything. However, once he has told me all that has been weighing on his imaginative mind, a strange sense of relief and calm comes over him and he rushes off to begin his day . . . in the real world.
Allowing your child time to tell you a story, dream, or write in their journal can be a lovely way to help clear their mind for a day of focused learning.
Begin with the best! Begin with books bursting with truth and wisdom; words that will not return void. We call this Salt-of-the-Earth-Storytime or “Salty Stories” and it is the first of our three reading blocks each day (we have a cross-curricular reading block at noon, and a chapter book/novel read-aloud block at bedtime).
We consume our “Salty Stories” even before we eat breakfast, in the hopes to symbolically practice that we “cannot live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the father.” -Matthew 4:4
5.) MORNING WATCH
“Morning Watch” is an old-school Summer Camp ritual, and we are loving bringing it back at our house! Because we live in a four-season climate, we only “Morning Watch” during the summer and early fall. But if you live in a temperate climate, or have a big sun-room or large windowed room, you may enjoy practicing this beautiful, intentional, spiritual start to your days throughout the year! Read all about it here: “MORNING WATCH” CLUB; start this camp-inspired waking ritual with your kids, and drink your coffee in peace!
6.) MUSIC & MOVEMENT (for littles) or MUSIC PRACTICE/YOGA/RUN/WORKOUT (for older kids)
Shaking your sillies out and wiggling your waggles away is an incredibly helpful start to the Homeschool day. I like to put on a great playlist and then let our kids be free! Some days they march around the house with music instruments, other days they quietly play with their toys. On tired days, I will find both kids just listening on the couch or pouring silently over a pile of books. Music has a way of leading the soul.
For older kids:
- If your child plays an instrument, the early morning may be a fantastic window for practicing rather than the usual “ok, school is over, now you have to practice your violin.”
- Exercise might be the best way for your older kids to start the homeschool day. Fresh air and after-exercise endorphins may dramatically lift your child’s mood and improve instructional time. In addition, getting “swoll” may give your big kid a boost of confidence and improve his or her self-esteem. Feeling good about yourself before a geometry lesson can be a very, very good thing indeed.
For a detailed look at our family’s “Music & Movement Time,” click here: Get your kids to MOVE IT (and stop taking it out on the walls)!
7.) “WHISTLE-WHILE-YOU-WORK” WINDOW
I have found that unless chores happen almost first-thing, they don’t often happen at all. I read and feed before chore-time . . . but that is all. Nothing else is given or allowed to occur before chores have been completed. After Salt-of-the-Earth-Storytime and a good breakfast, it is do your chores or bust. Our son hurries to get his chores done after breakfast so that he can have as much playtime as possible before we start lessons.
8.) SILENT-SUSTAINED-READING (SSR) or “PERUSING TIME” (for little kids)
An SSR time in the morning is a lovely way to “slow-start” the day, and kids as young as two should start developing the focus to do this! I’m amazed at how our toddler will sit (sometimes up to half an hour) and delicately look through a stack of books. She will even “fan-through” a picture-less novel or chapter book just because she can. Of course, our little love was not born doing this. And be assured, she is not a calm or “easy” child. In fact, she is quite the fire-cracker. But she has been observing and developing this skill of focus since she could sit up. She has watched me reading her whole little life, and she has watched “Bro Bro” page through thousands of books. If I know anything about little siblings is that they will not be left behind. So don’t leave them out or excuse them from SSR time!
Start with five minutes independent, silent reading for all members of the household (including you!) and build slowly up to half an hour or more.
9.) CREATIVE CORNER
Engaging in creativity first thing in the morning is like yoga for the brain —limbering up your mind for the lessons ahead. Plus, it makes us happy. Whether painting, playing an instrument, singing, or writing a story, being creative lifts the spirit, frees the mind, and soothes the soul.
Starting the day with self-expression may do nothing short of transform your child and the pulse of your Homeschool. You can read all about utilizing the arts to facilitate inspired learning here : from REPRESSION to SELF-EXPRESSION; utilizing the arts to restore mental and emotional well-being
10.) CALENDAR/PLANNER WORK
Planning the day or week ahead can be a peaceful way for your child to prepare his or her mind for the tasks ahead.
Check out our free, printable calendar here: ~KIDS’ CALENDAR of Verses to Navigate a Volatile World~
11.) PLAYTIME (for littles) or “FREE TIME” (for older kids)
Often, playtime is kept for the after-school or after-homework reward. I have found that this has a negative effect, at least for our kids. If school work is seen as the thing standing between your child and his or her toys or favorite activities, it will become more of a foe than a friend. On the other hand, giving access to free play before lessons allows the child to use up his or her . . . toy drive. Usually a child becomes bored after playing independently for half an hour or so. This opens the opportunity for school lessons to rescue the child from his or her own boredom! Rather than making school the sworn enemy of playtime, it can become it’s companion.
12.) TRAY TIME (for littles) or PROJECT WORK (for older kids)
A half hour block of “tray time” or project work in the morning ensures that the school day begins with “delight directed” learning. In other words, your young child will be able to select what tray materials to work with or explore on an inspiration basis. And/or your older child will be able to pursue his or her passions as the priority of the day rather than the afterthought.
You can read more about how we approach “tray time” in our previous post: HOMESCHOOL HACKS; sanity-saving secrets for the Homeschool family (updated)
Three cheers for SLOW!
Thanks for reading!
Love, ~Our Holistic Homeschool~