For the first time in 8 years of officially homeschooling, we have had a successful morning time every single day of our school year.
I can’t believe it!
I have tried to implement a morning time or circle time for many years. After a few weeks, we would give up and I would feel like a failure.
But this year something worked! We now have a dedicated “group school” time each morning before we start our independent work.
I’m still not sure what made this year a success, but I have a few tips that might help you find some success as well.
If snacks are all that will keep the little ones quiet, then have them on hand. My little people much dry cereal while I read aloud.
Have quiet activities
For some kids, it helps to keep their hands busy during this school time. My kids like to color or doodle on personal whiteboards.
Some days my kids’ activities end up distracting them – they fight over marker colors or arguing about sharing coloring books. On those days, I have them just sit around the room and enjoy simply listening as I read aloud to them. The art of being still and learning to listen should not be lost and some days we need to just keep it very simple.
Give time to burn off energy first
I think this has been a key to our success. After breakfast, we have a 30 minute time of doing chores, laundry and dishes are started and rooms are picked up. This helps get all our wiggles out so my kids can be more focused during our school time.
Have books you are excited about
When our group school time is something that I look forward to because I enjoy the resources, then the group school time gets done each day. I choose resources that I’m excited to share with my kids.
Have a comfy spot for you and them
I have a comfortable chair that’s just for me during our group time. My kids grab their blankets or stuffed animals and spread out on the floor around the room. When everyone is comfortable and has some personal space, group time works so much more smoothly.
Have a variety of learning activities
Our group school does not consist of just me reading aloud to them. I try to add in a few other educational activities into our time. We talk through outlines of our history chapters and my oldest writes the outline on the whiteboard for everyone else to copy into their notebooks. We pick a continent and practice drawing all the countries in that continent as I hold up the map book. I call out spelling words and dictation sentences as kids write them on personal whiteboards. As we read about different countries, I have kids find them on our globe. We go through our history flash cards like a trivia competition and the kids have fun trying to yell out answers as quickly as possible.
I am doing group school with a toddler running around the room and a baby crawling under the table and chairs. It’s a bit chaotic to say the least. But I’m learning to embrace the hectic feeling of our group time. My kids are learning to focus despite some distractions and I’ve lowered my expectations that our group time will not be anything close to the Insta-worthy pictures I see on social media. Nope, ours is a beautiful mess.
Be patient with interruptions
Can we talk about how much I hate to be interrupted a million and a half times while I’m reading aloud? It can be so frustrating. But I’m learning to be patient with the interruptions. And I’m also teaching my kids to wait until the end of a page to ask all their questions. They’ve even been raising their hands so I can know they have a question for when I get to the bottom of a page.
Set a start time
Very few things have been as beneficial in our homeschool as setting a specific start time. My kids know that breakfast and chores need to be completed at a certain time. And they know that at that time we will begin our group school time. Having this as an expectation has allowed us to make sure group school happens on a daily basis.
Do it first
Group school can be a very challenging part of the day, especially if you have little ones. So, it helps to do it first when everyone is still fresh. Start your homeschool day with group school when the kids are rested, fed, and focused. If you try to do this school time later in the day, the little ones have no attention span left and the older kids are tired and cranky. Nothing is more discouraging than trying to corral a mutinous group of kids into one room to listen to school-related things and then listen to them argue and complain.
Make it a priority
If you want to have a dedicated morning time in your homeschool, then it must be a priority. It sounds simple, but in order for this to work, you have to be all in. You can’t give up even though your time is filled with interruptions and arguing. Over time, you’ll come to appreciate your time of learning together and I bet your kids will too.
After looking back on my attempts in earlier years, I realized that my group school time was not a priority. It was more of an afterthought. And it was usually scheduled after lunch, at a time when my kids were not focused and I was getting sleepy. This was a recipe for disaster.
So, this year I embraced the chaos of a group learning time and we jump right into this time first thing before we begin anything else. And our time has been a huge blessing and something we look forward to every day. It’s now our favorite part of our homeschool day.
Stay tuned and I’ll be sharing a variety of fun resources for your morning basket.
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