Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What is Morning Time and Why Bother?

Day 2~


Over the years I have become suspect of grand schemes especially when it comes to homeschooling. How many times have you read a glowing review of a new product only to find that the family had only just started using it or even worse mom was just planning on using it? How many times have you heard moms talk about quitting something after using it for only 2 weeks?

In our home Morning Time gradually grew out of my own reading and thinking. It is closely tied to a Charlotte Mason education because it grew out of my reading of For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School. Later when Ambleside Online was born I seamlessly incorporated their suggestions into what I was already doing in Morning Time. That was an instance where a product, albiet a free one, and a philosophy met perfectly because they had both grown from the same seed.

But while many of the suggestions on Ambleside Online fit into the puzzle of our lives many, many other suggestions and ideas from other sources did not. This often perplexed me. Moms were glowing about the next new thing and I was plugging away at my daily liturgy called Morning Time. I could try the new thing but then I would have to quit Morning Time. I sometimes spent the summer months trying to work out the puzzle so that I could fit in the new thing or co-op or unit study with Morning Time. Guess what? I never could.

In all my years of homeschooling, I only quit having Morning Time once. The next summer I found out I had life-threatening cancer. I immediately knew one thing: Morning Time was the only part of our school that mattered. To this day, in spite of the many very bad academic years of school, the only real regret I have is the year without Morning Time (MT).

All of this was a matter of faith without sight. I was trusting my instincts, and Charlotte Mason's, while all around me moms were trying this and that and being tossed about by every wind of change. I was tossed too but MT saved me from making too many bad decisions.

And so minute by minute the years piled up along with the poems and Bible passages, the read-alouds, the discussions, and the collective family consciousness.

That is what MT is. It is the daily collection of little grains of time that add up to a lifetime of learning.  It is the daily sowing of the seeds of learning for the long haul. MT is not about reaping a quick harvest of spinach or lettuce after a few cool weeks. MT is about faithfully tending an orchard over long, long years knowing that the future harvest will be far more valuable than any quick crop. Maybe it isn't even an orchard-this is homeschool carbon which will produce a harvest of diamonds for those who have the patience and the courage to go for the long prize.

I don't walk by faith about MT anymore. Faith has become sight. I know it works. Now that my days are numbered and my time is short I love waking up every morning to spend time with Alex and Andrew-reading and talking and singing and memorizing.

Over the years, MT has kept the same structure but it can also be fluid as to categories. I think it is a great place to put all those categories which fall outside the usual school routine: composer study, artists, Plutarch and Shakespeare, even nature notebooks are each perfect for MT because these are the important things that often get squeezed out of the traditional school day. We may even find when we scoot over just a couple minutes a day to make room for these easily neglected areas the connections the mind begins to make start circuits for our children which far surpass the mundane teaching of subjects.

Tomorrow I will publish a list of possible Morning Time categories to help you get a picture of what MT looks like.

Suggestion of the Day for Morning Time Memory:

Here is a poem for young and old. My husband loves to say this one at this time of year.

The Mist and All

by Dixie Willson

I like the fall
The mist and all
I like the night owl’s lonely call
And wailing sound
Of wind around

I like the gray
November day
And dead, bare boughs that coldly sway
Against my pane

I like the rain
I like to sit
And laugh at it
And tend my cozy fire a bit
I like the fall
The mist and all

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