I am a homeschooling mother of four beautiful, amazing, intense girls.
This is not a homeschooling or parenting blog.
Except for every once in a great while when it is.
I usually prefer to write about topics other than homeschooling and parenting because I don’t often get a chance to step out of those roles and explore other worlds. Parenting and homeschooling can be fairly consuming, yet there are so many other pieces of me that need to be stewarded well.
Yet right now, in this season, I am aware of so many of you who are going to have your own children at home much more than usual this fall and are, perhaps, feeling a little at sea.
Some of you are homeschooling for the first time, some are distance learning with your school, some of your schooling will be done in some kind of hybrid mode, and still others of you are sending your children in-person full-time yet have a sneaking suspicion that there is a decent chance your kids will be back home with you before Thanksgiving.
For those of you who are living through this time of oh-so-strange schooling, may I offer one thought based on my own years of homeschooling? (For those of you who are not in this situation, feel free to skip this post and tune in for my regular programming next week!)
Remember what is of first importance.
It is all too easy to get caught up in finishing the math and the grammar, in making sure the spelling and history are done correctly, and forget that our main mission is not filling up brains but shepherding hearts.
The multiplication problem, the misspelled word snatch at our attention and tend to take over our day, while truth, beauty, and goodness get pushed to the side.
Yet I would argue that truth, beauty, and goodness matter more. Much more.
If my daughters become literal rocket scientists yet also develop into shallow, selfish creatures who treat others and creation with disdain, I will not view my parenting as a success.
How do you keep the loud and urgent from taking over the slow and important?
I feel certain there are many ways one could be sure to keep your family centered around what is most important, but one way I choose to do it in our home is through a practice I call Morning Time.
It doesn’t have to be Morning Time, of course. It could be Afternoon Tea Time or Evening Calm Down Time. Morning is just what works best for our family in this season.
For us, Morning Time is the way in which we take a moment at the beginning of our day to focus ourselves on truth, goodness, and beauty. It is the way in which we center ourselves around what matters most. It is the way we fix our eyes on Jesus and aim ourselves toward our ultimate goal of becoming like him.
What is Morning Time in a practical sense? There are as many ways of doing Morning Time as there are families who practice this habit, but if it is helpful to you, here is what we do.
I keep a basket with all of our Morning Time supplies by our couch. After breakfast, getting ready for the day, and morning chores, I pull it out and gather my girls.
I gather them by playing a “call to worship,” a hymn or worship song that changes each month. They all know that they are to be in the living room by the time the song ends. Theoretically, this gently gives them time to finish up whatever they are doing and get themselves ready for our school time. This sometimes happens successfully…and sometimes does not.
What follows is our ideal. Please do not imagine that I or my girls do any of what follows perfectly. Sometimes we do a hurried version or even skip Morning Time altogether. Sometimes one girl has a meltdown and I have to send her to her room. Sometimes all the girls, including me, have meltdowns and I have to send us all to our rooms to regroup. It is a rare day when all of this goes perfectly.
Some parts of our time together happen every day; others happen in a loop.
Every day we read a short piece of Scripture. Last year we went through Proverbs a couple of times, this year we are reading pieces of Psalms from the Common Book of Prayer. Every day we also do our Scripture memory work.
After reading Scripture and memorizing Scripture, we do one item from our loop, whatever happens to be next in line. The items in our loop this year are missionary stories, a children’s theology book (when this comes up in our loop, I also use it to help my girls practice listening to God and meditating on his Word), art, music, and poetry.
Once we finish our loop item, we sing a hymn together. We are slowly working our way through a hymn book that I have, staying on one hymn for a month. Lastly we pray the Lord’s Prayer together, and I bless them with The Lord be with you. I have taught them to answer, And also with you.
And that’s it.
It usually only lasts about thirty minutes, but this short time during our day serves to remind all of us (me, especially, most days!) that while math, reading, and science are important parts of God’s creation, given to us to explore, it is of first importance to keep our whole selves centered around God.
Morning Time is one of the main ways I whet my girls’ appetites for what is true, good, and beautiful. It is one of the main ways I teach them to love God with their whole selves. It is one of the main ways I center our family around Jesus and make our home into a small piece of God’s kingdom on earth.
I pray that you can find the best way for your family to do the same.
Art Credits: St. Peter’s Rescue from the Lake of Galilee by Herbert Boeckl; Fairy Tales by Jessie Willcox Smith; The Fairy Tale by Walther Firle