If present-day me went back in time to college-age me and disclosed what life would look like in 20 years, I don’t think the college-age me would have believed it.
My life is everything I ever and never dreamed of for myself. I want to tell you all about the anchor of our hectic homeschool day but first, here’s a bit of what present-day me would love to tell college-age me:
“That young, gangly guy you like hanging out with – strictly friends – he THE ONE. And you’re going to have FOUR kids with him! Wait…wait…there’s more. You will be a homemaker and start HOMESCHOOLING your kids – all FOUR of them! P.S. Don’t cut your hair in a pixie unless you are going to a professional stylist.”
When I say my life is everything I ever dreamed of, I mean the only real thing I knew I wanted to do when I grew up was a good wife and a good mother. Honestly. That was the extent of my career ambitions. So check and check!
When I say my life is everything I never dreamed of, I mean I can’t believe how that simple dream could be THIS good! I get to be at home when my husband gets home from work! I get to stay at home with my kids and learn alongside them! I get to watch the sparkle in their eyes when they make a connection or do something new for the first time! It is, in a word, awesome!
But, I don’t want you to get it twisted, on the vast ocean of homeschooling, the waters can be seriously ROUGH! I never dreamed this would be such an incredibly hard job – rewarding, but SO hard.
It took me a good two and a half years to get some sort of vessel fashioned beneath us, so we could stay afloat. More years to “add to” the basics.
Along the way, I found something which truly serves to anchor our day. And I want to share that practice with you and offer it to you as an anchor to your days.
An Anchor of Our Hectic Homeschool Day – Morning Time Tradition of Gathering
Early in our homeschool journey, I heard about the practice of “morning time.” On its face, it seemed like such a beautiful and simple practice we could easily incorporate into our days.
Morning-time tradition has all sorts of definitions, but I viewed it initially as a time to come together as a family and read the Bible, listen to and sing hymns of the faith, and look at beautiful art. I thought three things would be easy to add to our days.
I was W-R-O-N-G.
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We sometimes made it to the Bible, sometimes made it to a song, and we never ever made it to beautiful art. Somewhere along in each attempt at morning time, I would lose some or all of the kids.
Our morning time would end in tears and tantrums. This was definitely NOT what I was looking for in our days.
Because these attempted “morning times” were so abysmal, I was tempted to just throw it all out the window and determine, “Well, we just aren’t that kind of family.”
But there were still SO many riches I still wanted to share with my kids. I just couldn’t figure out how to translate that to elementary-age and under kids.
Then one day, my kids were reading the back of a cereal box for at least the 20th time that month. And it clicked.
My kids were highly engaged in absolutely inane information on the back of the cereal box because they were a captive audience and the cereal box was the only source of information/entertainment in front of them.
Suddenly, I knew if I put the art, the hymns, and the Bible verses I wanted to share with my kids in front of them – instead of the cereal box – they would start to engage with it. And if they were reading the cereal box jokes out loud to one another, they might read whatever I put in front of them to each other, too!
I tested it out. It was an instant success! Suddenly my kids were doing “morning time!” Well, we don’t call it morning time, we call it Gathering – because of my tendency to shout “Gather ’round” to my kids.
But no matter the name – we, as a family, were suddenly engaged in the practice I had dreamed of! It was a thing of beauty!
Since that day over three years ago, I have made Gathering Placemats for my kids every single month. I print them out nice and big – so that art shows really well. And I laminate them because we are using them during meal times.
I create Gathering Playlists to go along with them, too. They have become a thing – not just a thing, but an anchor of our hectic homeschool day.
When all else fails, we still get our Gathering in – it is that important and that beloved.
What You Need to Start your Own Morning Time Tradition
While I am more than happy to share the Gathering Placemats with you (and I do at the bottom of this post!), I have realized there are lots of ways to make “morning time” happen for you.
So I thought I would give you my tips for getting started with how we anchor our hectic homeschool day through the tradition of Gathering. These are the same tips I give to my Bible study students looking to start a consistent habit of Bible study.
To start a Gathering (or morning time) tradition, you need; a time, a place, and a plan.
Don’t let the name “morning time” fool you – it does not have to be in the morning. It can be any time your family naturally gathers together.
Since our family naturally gathers together in the morning around our kitchen island for breakfast, it has become our Gathering time.
The key to making this habit stick is being consistent on the time you choose. “We’ll get to it later,” is not a way to create a habit. So, if you are interested in anchoring your homeschool days with “morning time,” pick a time and stick with it as much as you can for at least a month.
As I mentioned our Gathering happens very naturally around our kitchen island at breakfast time. But many families do morning time outside, in the homeschool room, on the living room sofa, even cuddled up in bed.
Again, it is not the place that matters – it is the consistency of the place. Dedicating a place for morning time to happen is just as important as dedicating a time.
Back when I was still dreaming of (and not yet doing) morning time, I had no shortage of plans. I had morning time plans I paid for which never saw the light of day in our house.
I had binders full of beautiful art prints I never even opened to show my kids. I had art supplies, books, poems, hymns, the list goes on and on. I got to maybe 1% of all that stuff in all my attempts and failures at morning time.
What set my course for Gathering was being forced to figure out a plan for that set-aside time and preselected place. As I mentioned, I knew I wanted to put all these things in front of my kids, but I couldn’t figure out how to make the feast into kid-sized portions. That morning with the cereal box when the light bulb went off, I suddenly realized the plan in the form of a placemat.
I went to work on the first set of Gathering Placemats. Because I have four kids, I knew I would need 4 different versions per set. But I still wanted all my kids to have access to the same hymns, Bible verses, and poetry – so I put those on the front of each of the placemats.
Suddenly the fronts were all the same and the backs were where all the variety came from.
I followed the direction of Ambleside Online for art study and composer study. I utilized memory work from our Classical Conversations curriculum to fill in spaces.
I sprinkled in jokes, riddles, and tongue twisters to delight my kids. Once the Gathering Placemats started to come together, I realized they were a beautiful curated morning-time resource I would be happy to share with any family.
Start Your Morning Time Tradition- Get Gathering
If you are looking for that anchor I was so desperate for in my early years of homeschooling, I humbly offer my Gathering Placemats to you.
You can get a FREE set when you sign up below. Or you can get started with the Gathering Introductory Bundle at a special price.
As I mentioned, I make Gathering Placemats that follow the Ambleside Online riches schedule and the Classical Conversations cycle each year. Those are now available and would take care of your Gathering plan for the entire 2021-2022 school year.
The Gathering Placemats have been the anchor of our hectic homeschool day for us to create the hoped-for homeschool experience.
You, too, can have everything you ever and never dreamed of in your homeschool – it just might look different than you could have imagined.
This is a contributed post for the 2021 How We Homeschool Series.
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This post was contributed by Leah at Simple.Home.Blessings.
Hi! I am Leah from Simple.Home.Blessings. So glad you are here! I am a wife & mom trying to do homemaking without fussiness; seeking to find joy in the everyday things of life. I write about raising kids, building a nest for my family, the pennies we get from heaven, & being devoted to God & one another. Hang out for a little while & see the simple things going on in our home that might be a blessing to you.