How do you begin your homeschool day? Our days have changed over the years as our students have gotten older and Fostering Collaboration with a Morning Meeting is the easiest way to stay consistent at gathering together- especially as your students get older.
Benefits of a Morning Meeting Time
It doesn’t take much planning to put together our Morning Meeting Time, but it does take commitment to begin your homeschooling day this way. Here are a few benefits for us:
- Allows our kids to come together each morning– At its core this is all about having our kids come together once a day. Many combinations of our kids work together throughout the day, but this is one time I can guarantee they will all be in the same place at the same time for the same purpose.
- Provides a great time of connection for our chronically ill high schooler– I have not spoken much about his illness (yet), but our high school senior has been very sick with chronic Lyme Disease for a year and a half. He has experienced neurological damage from the disease which manifests itself in a variety of ways. The morning meeting is a way for him to exercise his thinking without going out of his way to do so.
- Lets all ages and stages engage with each other for the first hour or so of the day. Every day. – There is great value in this for us all. I love to see how all of our students interact with each other and the subject matter. The perspective of each individual is apparent in our discussions and often leads to more discussion.
Our Morning Meeting Routine
We’ve got all stages of student right now- two high schoolers, a middle schooler, and an upper elementary student. How do we pull it all together for all these ages? This is how a Morning Meeting happens:
- Gathering Time– Our meeting doesn’t really happen at the same exact time every day. We’re aiming for consistency, but it doesn’t have to be rigid. So, at breakfast I announce the time we’ll meet in the family room for the morning meeting. The kids are good about making sure they all get there on time.
- Prayer Time– This part has taken on different forms over the years, but we take turns (one person per day) praying for our day and for the world around us. This is a fantastic opportunity to keep our kids aware of the needs around them and to pray for each other. When our kids were younger we used prayer sticks (see Morning Basket link below for details).
- Announcements– I remind everyone what’s on tap for the day and flag any outings or visitors. It’s usually followed by what’s happening that week which is coming up. This moment is perfect for the kids who are not observant and miss the event on the large calendar we have in our hallway upstairs. It’s in a spot easy to glance at before they walk downstairs each day.
- Pleasure Read Aloud– We read one chapter (no matter what) of the current fun book. I guarantee one chapter and we can elect to read more, but I hold the final say. I gauge the room and base it on how much other work or where else we need to be that day as to whether we read on. I’d say this is a favorite when we can all just enjoy a good story! Every now and then a fun read aloud doubles as an academic read aloud, but a lot of the time it’s just for fun.
- Academic Connection Read Aloud– These are excerpts and book chapters which are a part of our curriculum. This year our 8th and 10th graders are studying Ancient History which calls for us to read together and for them to read independently. The 5th grader stays to learn Biblical history and reinforce his Bible stories. The 12th grader listens in and joins the conversation because he’s already studied Ancient and he’s an excellent resource. Ethan is a fantastic Bible scholar and I love to hear him offer his knowledge and ideas to the meeting.
- Discussion– These usually occur between the various books we read from. We all have something to say about our current read aloud and often will banter about the plot, characters, where things are going, and what we’d like to see happen. There’s always a prediction thrown out and discussed in the group. Conversation about our academic pursuits happens when we are reading those and this is where the experience and knowledge from the older kids is a fun addition.
- Questions– This is a time for the kids to tell us what they’ll be working on and if they need any help from me as the day goes on. These items often allow my older kids to offer insight into the problem and many times a collaborative effort leads to better understanding. It lets me check in to see where everyone is as well.
- Assignments & Expectations– The last part of the meeting is set aside for making sure all the kids know what they need to do for school that day. The older kids have academic calendars for keeping track of their work and I use a whiteboard for listing assignments for our youngest. However, a verbal reminder is always important.
How long does this take? Anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the day. If we are pressed for time, it may be shorter and I may cut some content. However, this portion of the day includes a lot of instructional time and mentoring moments. So, I don’t worry about losing time for other things. Our high schoolers will have plenty to do afterward and will continue to work independently while my elementary student usually sticks around to do the next thing with me before doing more work on his own. I consider this time to be the kick off to the day and it includes some of the credit hours all the kids need to meet. In short, it’s time well spent!
Making Consistency a Priority
You might be asking how we manage to meet daily with three teenagers in the house! It is a challenge some days, but I find the benefits pay off enough to make it happen.
- Be flexible with a start time– We meet shortly after breakfast usually about 10am, but it’s a block of time not an absolute. Some days we can’t meet in the morning. It could be a doctor’s appointment, a field trip, or some other obligation which makes mornings impossible. On those days, we do the morning meeting when everyone returns home in the late morning or we simply start with the meeting after lunch. The thing to keep in mind is to have the meeting whenever you can have it in the day!
- Keep track of schedules– Make sure you know what’s happening each day so that you know when you need to move the Morning Meeting. I will always let my schedule happy kid know when to expect the meeting and in the meantime, independent work can always be done. Though I “start” our day with it, many times students begin their other work ahead of time.
- Adjust the content– If you are short on time, then go ahead and shorten what happens during the Morning Meeting. The agenda is not so set in stone that I can’t make adjustments.
- Make the meeting count– If you know you have sick kids or doctor’s appointments, then come together for some basics to find some grounding. And know that whatever else happens that day, you met for Morning Meeting Time and connected that day. It makes a difference and it helps to keep up with the academic reading which must be done each day.
Other Ideas for Morning Meeting Content
We’ve done a form of Morning Meeting Time for many years. As our kids have grown and changed, so has our Morning Meeting Time. Years ago, the meeting time was our school time. That was nearly all there was to it! Sometimes it’s been a short time and other times it’s been longer. I like to add things in and take things out. This year I would like to add in additional reading aloud and maybe add some Shakespeare or seasonal items. It can look like whatever you want! Here are some content ideas and tips for you from other posts here at Blog, She Wrote.
- Our Morning Basket– A peek into the basket we used for morning reflections and prayer. We still have our basket though the content could use some updating.
- How to Use Current Events in Your Homeschool– Morning Meeting Time is a great time to discuss and pray over events around the world. Even small children can share in this time and this post is all about how to work these in no matter the ages of your children.
- How to Make the Most of Your Read Aloud Time– Our Morning Meeting Time is largely a time of reading aloud and discussing what we read. These tips will help you to implement a smooth meeting time.
- 100 Books You Should Read by the Time You Turn 20– A list for teens by teens in response to the NPR list of books for teens. If you are searching for books to reading during your Morning Meeting Time, then this list is a good bet. If you subscribe to Blog, She Wrote, then you can get a checklist of the 100 Books list for free!
Do you have a favorite activity for your Morning Meeting Time? Tell us about it!