Yesterday over on Instagram I shared some photos from our morning time, and said I was happy to answer any questions people had. I was not expecting to receive over a hundred! So I thought that I would answer the most frequent questions here (there were a lot of repeated questions) so that they can be referred back to.
[I wrote about morning time as part of our Autumn rhythm here, so if you have no idea what I’m talking about you might want to read that first!]
When did you start doing morning time with Frida? How old is she now?
She is four and a half. We started doing a gentle morning time probably 1.5-2 years ago, just sharing lovely books and art and music over breakfast, and it’s evolved steadily from there. I’ve always made it a priority, and it’s a really key part of my days with Frida.
How do you begin? How do you get her to sit down?
I simply invite her to the table! We sit at the dining table, Frida has breakfast, and we begin! We always start with poetry. But this is just a really normal part of our rhythm, I think it helps that morning time = breakfast time.
If she’s caught up in playing and wants to wait, that’s fine! We’re on no-one else’s timetable.
What if she doesn’t want to sit down and do morning time?
We do morning time over breakfast, when it’s natural for us to sit together. But if she didn’t want to, that would be fine – it’s her choice, and I am a strong believer in consent in education.
The same goes for what we learn that day: if she wants to finish early, or skip bits, we do. The idea is for her to fall in love with all the delights of learning, not to force her and make her resent what we do. It’s a joyful time for connection, not a chore.
What materials and resources do you use? Can you share links to them all?
Please find links below to the resources we are currently using. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, and we dip in and out of a huge number of books and materials. I will work on creating some subject specific blog posts soon.
- Yoga – Frida enjoys Cosmic Kids on YouTube.
- Poetry – We read a lot of poetry but our current morning time selection includes I Am The Seed That Grew The Tree which we use daily, Waldorf Book of Poetry, Autumn, Shirley Hughes, and Flower Fairies of the Autumn.
- Autumn verses – Find some of my favourites here.
- Art – We use these cards, along with a range of other books and images. You can find books and art material recommendations here.
- Music – I use Spotify to search for and listen to a wide range of classical music with Frida. The Classic FM Hall of Fame is great for inspiration, and I am currently pondering how I can bring a little more structure to our music listening as it’s currently a bit random!
- French – We have lots of French books and some CDs but we are currently really enjoying Les Metiers and Listen and Learn (which we don’t need as my pronunciation is good but Frida finds it fun), and the Beth Manners CDs which are on Spotify for free and REALLY great (also available in Spanish).
- Latin – We are currently using Song School Latin 1 which I don’t love, for many reasons (it’s not secular, for a start) but is the only resource I could find which specifically caters for young children. Frida also really enjoys it, which is what matters, especially as we use the online additional videos too. I supplement with some extra books including First Thousand Words.
- Maths – We are currently working with this activity book which Frida loves! It’s really great. It is below her current ability level, I think, but it’s good to get her gently used to doing workbooks and answering a range of questions presented in different ways before we move onto Beast Academy (we explored using “Maths – No Problem” – which is Singapore Maths – and bought the first year, but it became clear quickly that it wasn’t a good fit for Frida right now, however I’m sure it would be brilliant for some children so please do your own research!). There are a range of activity books in this series and I can see us working through all of them at some point. In fact, you could probably use them as a standalone curriculum for a year.
- Reading practice – We use these sight word cards, and Frida is working her way through this set of readers.
- Writing practice – Again, we have lots of art materials and resources, but Frida is really enjoying using these.
- We also tend to read an extra book on a weekly loop (Monday = ethics, Wednesday = history / science, Friday = geography). But these might get read when out, or later in the day. We also read lots of other books during the day!
Why did you choose to teach Frida French?
I’m half-French, so it’s important to me that Frida be given the opportunity to learn French. I also believe that with foreign languages, the earlier I can teach her the better. I can speak French with a good accent (although my actual vocab and grammar is very rusty!) so I’m in a good position to teach her. I try to chat to her in French throughout the day too, so she learns everyday phrases eg. “Please wash your hands”, “Are you finished?”, or “Is it tasty?”.
Why did you choose to teach Frida Latin?
I think that learning Latin makes so much sense from a purely linguistic perspective. Much of the English language (around 60-70%) derives directly from Latin – if she knows that “optime” means great in Latin, she can guess the meaning of words like optimist and optimum. And the same goes for the Latin languages of French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Romanian (part of my reasoning for teaching French and Latin at the same time, albeit Latin at a much slower pace). It is a key which I hope will unlock many linguistic doors for her later down the line. Plus, as she gets older and digs into the written language and grammar, it’s excellent intellectual training.
Is Frida interested in learning French and Latin?
Yes! I heard her talking to the cat in Latin the other day.
If she hated it, it would absolutely not be a part of our morning time (though I would still find creative ways to teach her French because it is really important to me).
What do you “do” with poetry?
We read and enjoy it. Sometimes it might spark further reading or discussion, sometimes we just move on. Sometimes I read it twice, sometimes we agree – or disagree – on it not being a great poem. The idea is to make reading poetry into a habit and something which is to be enjoyed.
Do you prepare before hand?
Yes. I prepare all our books and resources the evening before, it would be so chaotic otherwise. But again, I want to stress that if Frida has other plans, or wants to read or work on something different, or indeed just wants to play after we’ve read our poems and she’s eaten, then that’s fine too!
Do you do everything every day? That sounds like a lot compared to a four year old in school!
We do most things most days. It really depends. If I sense Frida is getting a bit tired I end it sooner, and of course if she wants us to finish then we do. I prioritise poetry, singing, and art; if that’s all we do, I’m happy.
Remember, I’m working with one child rather than 30. So we cover things pretty quickly: we might cover something in 5-10 minutes, and I can go at her pace and tailor what we do to her desires, needs, and moods. This is what currently works for us now.
How long does this all take?
Including yoga and preparing breakfast, around 1.5-2 hours usually, say from 08:30 to 10am. But it might be as short as an hour, and it might be as long as 2.5 hours, though the latter is rare. After we’re done, we have the whole day for play, adventures, music, reading, seeing friends, gardening, baking, or more “formal” learning; whatever Frida wants to do.
If we are taking the train or bus somewhere, I’ll bring books with me and we’ll carry on there.
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