I thought I would take a post not on the schedule to answer a few questions that have come up. Hopefully, I can do this a couple of times during the month. Some things, of course, are scheduled later in the month. I have planned out in advance all 31 posts although I have not written them all yet. Some questions will be answered as we go but others I will answer in these Q&A posts so feel free to ask away.
(I am a bit hurried this morning so please excuse any errors. I will not be able to fix them until later this evening.)
What kind of schedule to you recommend for starting the morning?
Years ago we tried to start MT at 8:30 every morning. In those days we woke up around 6:00 A.M. and sometimes earlier. That was a good plan but not perfect. The fatal flaw was that if we did not start at 8:30 I was tempted to throw up my hands and cancel MT. MT got cancelled often under that plan.
These days we sleep in later. I let the kids wake up naturally, making sure they do not stay up too late at night. I have found that helps attitudes. Tired people are grumpy people and you can imagine how awful a houseful of grumpy boys could be.
Waking up early is good but not necessary. I would NEVER have children sitting around waiting for MT. They should wake up and go through whatever normal routine you have and then begin their own schoolwork until MT begins.
Morning Time is its own routine but it does not have to start at the same time each day. It is much more likely to take place if you just start it when you can without worrying about the time. I have been known to start MT as late as 11:30 or even in the afternoon. Morning is definitely better but it is never too late.
The first point is keep the starting time fluid so that you never feel too overwhelmed to start.
The second point is to make sure the children are busy until MT starts whenever that is.
For years our morning schedule was: rise, have devotions, eat breakfast, do chores, start math until MT. Now it is similar only the boys have daily schedules which they work through on their own in their own way until I call "Morning Meeting in 5 minutes."
How do you promote discussion in MT?
First I would suggest that you read through my old Morning Time page, especially the posts that give sample days. I also plan to post a couple of new sample days throughout this series.
Discussion is tricky especially if you are keeping in mind my advice not to moralize or spiritualize. MT discussion can quickly deteriorate into Mom's Sermon Time. This is the biggest MT no-no.
So how do you promote this sort of discussion without being heavy-handed?
Play it by ear. You will be surprised by the connections that come up naturally in MT. If you have a child who likes to ask questions, run with those questions and try to be a bit Socratic about it. That is keep the questions relating to more questions. Be encouraging to your children when they ask questions. It helps if MT runs along without too many interruptions BUT there are times when one discussion will take over and become the heart and soul of that particular MT and you should be brave enough to kiss the rest of the MT goodbye.
On the other, hand you may have a child who is so inquisitive that he will ruin MT daily if you let him. Do not be afraid of stifling some of that.
You cannot have deep discussions about every single aspect of MT every day and you should not.
When you are reading something difficult such as Plutarch or Shakespeare or even the Bible, you can pause to ask the kids what they think is meant by certain phrases or sentences. This is a great way to promote discussion.
Oral narrations can also lead to discussion as you encourage the children.
Times of prayer can lead to good theological discussions in context. Why is baby David so sick? How is this family handling this hard time? How can we help them?
Hard vocabulary words can lead to great discussions.
Sometimes I will read something and just ask upfront, ahead of time, what the kids know about something. This week before we read a poem by Tennyson titled Ulysses, I asked the boys what they knew about Ulysses. I am always shocked by how much they know about things I have never taught them. Then we used what we knew to look for things in the poem that related to those preknown things. That helped a lot as otherwise the poem was a bit obscure.
I will try to add other discussions we have during MT to my future posts to give you a picture. On the one hand MT needs to roll along but on the other hand it needs to be able to accommodate some discussion each day.
Feel free to ask questions related to this post in the comments or you can leave questions for future posts.