“Morning time” is one of the topics I get the most questions and requests for more information about, so I thought I would give you a deeper look into our morning time rhythm and our favourite resources.
What is “morning time”?
Morning time refers to a period of time we spend reading books and exploring some resources together each morning during the week. It’s a simple idea which is popular with home educating families – coming together early in the day when everyone is fresh and learning together in a relaxed and joyful way. I love the habit of morning time, and can see how my relaxed approach now – look at some art, read some books, start to learn another language – will lay the foundation for more formal learning later on in life.
Morning time has become a beloved part of our daily rhythm and Frida and I both genuinely enjoy it. I love that no matter what we do for the rest of the day we start off with connection and beautiful books, both of us learning something new.
Morning time rhythm
Pinning our morning time session to breakfast works really well for us as it’s a really pleasant and connected way to start our day. We are both (usually!) feeling refreshed in the morning, and having breakfast to focus on keeps Frida happily sitting at the table for a good stretch of time. Before we begin I make sure that Frida has everything she wants for her breakfast, and I make sure that I have a big mug of tea or a cafetiere full of fresh coffee within my reach!
On an average morning, our morning time currently looks something like this:
- Light and candle and start with a simple morning verse, which we learnt together at the Waldorf playgroup we used to attend
- Art appreciation and history – we look at one painting or work of art; we might read a book about an artist too. We usually review the previous day’s work too.
- Read about a flower (one a day & review the previous day’s).
- Read about a tree (ditto).
- Read about an animal and/or a bird – this usually leads us to researching similar species or to some reading about habitats and geography.
- Read a book or two related to the weekly Exploring Nature With Children (ENWC) theme – we don’t follow it strictly but use it as inspiration for books and activities, focusing on a different part of nature each week. I feel like using it gives me a bit of focus when thinking about books to source, and it means that at the end of the year we’ll have covered a huge amount of nature study. You can read about our plans each week here).
- If we’re not reading much that week for ENWC I might suggest some reading around a specific subject Frida has been showing an interest in, or we might just read some seasonal books.
- Read a French book and practice some spoken French (you can read about our French learning here).
- Look at a couple of digraphs and the sound they make using our sandpaper digraphs.
- If we’re unlikely to be home for tea time, or we’re in the mood, we might read some poetry or some fiction.
- Blow out candle, clean up after breakfast, and get dressed and ready to go out.
We might do all of this and more, or we might only cover a few off from the list above. It depends on Frida’s mood and what we have planned for the day. Usually morning time lasts between 30-60 minutes but it has been both shorter and longer! I’m led by Frida – if she wants to finish, we finish.
The books and resources we use tend to spark further reading and discussion, but sometimes our reading is inspired by what’s happening in our lives; for example, reading about sand grouses recently led us to pulling out all of our desert books and reading about deserts, the creatures that live there, and how they are formed, a pond trip might encourage us to reach for books about frogs and pond-life, and a package sent to Frida from Kobe yesterday has led to lots of reading about Japan and the similarities and differences that might exist between her life and a Japanese child’s. This means our learning feels fresh, interesting, and natural.
I want to stress that when we started doing morning time it was nowhere near as long as this, or as complex. It’s slowly grown longer and included more elements, and I imagine that it will keep evolving as Frida’s needs change. Just taking five minutes to read a book together at a regular time each day is a wonderful place to start.
Books and resources
The books and resources we use change all the time depending on what Frida is interested in and what we’re learning about together, but some of my favourite morning time resources include:
Art appreciation and history
- Usborne Famous Paintings cards. I supplement these with postcards I have bought from galleries, but you could easily just use cards you have bought or pictures you’ve printed off.
- All of the Anholt’s Artists series are amazing – such great introductions to famous artists.
- Ditto the Katie series.
- I’m about to order Vincent’s Starry Night – I’ve seen this recommended a lot and it looks brilliant.
- Flower Spotter’s Cards + 50 Trees to Spot cards (these are getting hard to find so these books would make good substitutes: RSPB First Book of Flowers and First Book of Trees)
- Flower Fairies is a surprisingly lovely way to learn about seasonal flowers.
- A Little Guide To Wild Flowers is great to use alongside the Flower Fairies books.
- Botanicum is great for deepening knowledge and seeing the connection to other plants, as is The Natural History Book which I rave about all the time!
- A World of Birds is amazing, we are using it every day at the moment to learn about a different bird. Bonus points for the fact the birds are grouped by continent. The illustrations are great too.
- Amazing Animal Fact Cards – these have been a big hit to do a “daily animal” and I’m looking forward to the next set coming out!
- Atlas of Animal Adventures is also great f you want to read about one animal a day. I love the detail and the geographic links, and the illustrations are so engaging for young children.
- The Natural History Book is the most brilliant reference book. We use it daily.
- Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature is superb, with information on different kinds of species as well as habitats. We use it all the time at the moment and I imagine we will continue to use it for years.
- The whole Nature Storybooks series – we have so many of these now and they are always my go-to when wanting to buy a book on a specific animal. I cannot recommend them highly enough.
- Animalium is great for deepening understanding of classes of animals and species, and seeing which animals are related. A beautiful book.
- Children’s Picture Atlas is a brilliant, affordable book. I love that it has a section about different habitats and it’s really clear and easy to use.
- Lift the Flap Atlas is also great, and it comes with a free map which we have put up next to our table so that Frida can look at it with ease.
- This Children’s Illustrated Atlas is on my list to buy as it looks like the perfect next step for a bit more detail.
- Atlas of Adventures is also on my book list to buy soon, we love the animal version (linked to above) and I think Frida is now old enough to really get something out of this. Perfect for reading one a week / day.
- We use this globe for now and it’s perfect for young children who want to be able to locate continents with ease.
- T’choupi! I love T’choupi books for building vocabulary and their simple, realistic storylines.
- We also have a selection of English language books which have been translated into French such as Owl Babies and The Gruffalo as well as some simple French board books.
- My First Discoveries Series is an amazing series which I can’t get enough of – each book in this non-fiction series is clear and perfect for young children, and the diverse subjects mean that we can always find one to fit an interest.
- Ireally love the Usborne Beginners series which also covers a wide range of subjects. They are affordable, well written, and contain the perfect amount of information for young children.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, or the only books we use, but these are the ones we use time and again, day in day out, and that form the backbone of our morning time at the moment.
I’ll be sharing my favourite tea time resources in a couple of days, including a selection of my favourite fiction, poetry, and seasonal books.
If you want to learn how to craft your own meaningful family rhythms, such as morning time or tea time, read on…
Rhythm in the Home
I truly believe that creating strong rhythms for your family can be life-changing.
Creating a strong, dependable family rhythm can:
- Reduce feelings of overwhelm – for you just as much as your children;
- Increase your child’s feelings of control, reducing their stress levels and related behaviours – young children thrive on dependability;
- Allow you to parent with more ease and joy, removing some of the friction in daily life;
- Provide regular moments of calm and togetherness, even during busy days;
- Let you focus on what is important to you, including ensuring time for self-care; and
- Simplify your life, allowing you to let go of things which aren’t helping you reach your goals.
Rhythm is emphatically not about establishing strict routines or schedules; it is there to serve you rather than turn you into its slave. A strong rhythm creates freedom through establishing a flow which feels natural, where everyone knows what comes next.
If you’d like to find clarity around what you truly need from a family rhythm, and confidence in crafting it, I’ll be opening bookings on Friday 15 June at 08:30am (UK time) for my next Rhythm in the Home course.
The course creates a warm, safe, and supportive space for you to dig deep into what makes you and your family happy, and how to shape your days to bring more ease and joy into your life with young children. It’s a very special course and I’m so proud of it and the changes that previous participants have made following it. Come and join us!