About two months ago, I watched this scope by Julie Bogart of Bravewriter (yes, I am a bit of a Julie fangirl) and it made me swap around how we work our mornings for the better. Previously I had been starting the day with our math, phonics, and handwriting pages and then we’d take a break and I would try to do science reading at my scheduled science time or my social studies at my scheduled social studies time and I’d try to read from a chapter book and picture books at some point and more often than not we would not get to all the lovely books I had planned.
You know that fantasy homeschool we all have in our heads? Well mine included lots of reading on the couch, all snuggled together. This was not happening for us nearly as much as I would have liked until I put the emphasis on reading by doing it first thing in the morning.
Enter the morning basket. Now our mornings start with the girls playing while I make breakfast and coffee for myself. Then we eat and I get more coffee, they get dressed and brush their teeth, and we move to the couch to start our readings. It usually goes 1-2 hours depending on if we have Coop, violin lesson, or a forest school meetup that day. Greta would go longer but I find that I can certainly not read any longer than 2 hours without losing my voice! After this, they get another break of free time and then I will pull out the math books and handwriting pages along with a snack. Then it’s lunch and I can be happy knowing we’ve had a great start to the day.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Include many and varied books
We read a little bit of each book, each day. My basket contains: our current chapter book, 1 or 2 short picture books, books related to our current nature study, books related to our current country study, folktale or fairytale collections, those longer length science books that are lovely but you never get to (like The Animal Book– so awesome!), and our Spanish flashcards.
Make it special
When we first switched to doing our morning basket, I started it by lighting a fire in the living room and laid out new markers and coloring pages. It was new and exciting and really got them to buy into the new routine.
Give them something to do with their hands
My girls are 3 and almost 6. For this age, (or most ages even) it is simply not reasonable to expect them to sit still and listen attentively. My 3 year old is in and out with the readings- she often starts with us and then goes and plays with some toys nearby. My six year old loves to color, so I will often print out a coloring sheet or get a coloring book for her to work on while I read. Sometimes she plays with Legos or even play dough. I know she is still attentive and listening and I know this because I can see her reacting to the books and because we talk about them as we read.
Follow their cues and do what works best for your family
The whole purpose of reading aloud to your kids is for them to associate reading with pleasure. Stop before they get tired or cranky. I would never force a child to sit and listen to reading for a set amount of time. Do not worry about doing the length we do or anyone else does- do what works for your family. Remember- a little is better than none. 🙂