Our Morning Collective

Our morning collective consists of basically the same 4 elements every day. With children ages 8 through 16, it is still one of my favorite homeschool routines! It is getting trickier to do as high school schedules encroach more, but I’d rather give up other things than this. Learning together is one of my big WHYs for homeschooling, so we keep it going. About 3 days a week, we are doing these things:

  1. Watch news together using World Watch News, which is a daily news subscription service. Ten minute episodes delivered daily covering top news stories and point of interest stories explained well for younger audiences. Each episode ends with the poignant reminder that “Whatever the news, the purpose of the Lord will stand.” By merit of exposure, my children have all memorized that line and I think that will serve them well. Prior to paying for a World Watch News subscription, we used CNN10, which was free. Obviously there are some differences between the 2 news services in how stories are selected/presented/etc. Because there are still stories of interest from CNN10, we sometimes watch both and those have prompted some good compare/contrast discussions with my guys.
  2. Scripture memory and catechism review. At different times, we’ve also added in family devotions. Right now, everyone does their own morning devotions, and as always, my husband leads evening family devotions, so we don’t include them in our morning collective. I have a list of Bible verses that we are memorizing – one each week. This year my kids are also highlighting the verses we are memorizing in their Bibles. We are also memorizing the answers to The New City Catechism. We’ve been working on those for over a year now, and have a lot further to go. Our consistency and their consistent memory of the answers is very encouraging to me.
  3. Fine Arts Rotation: We cycle through poetry, Classical music/hymns, and famous artists with each getting a day. I use a combination of the Ambleside Online schedule and Classical Conversations‘ schedule for famous artists, classical composers, and hymns. Typically, we read about the artist or composer, and look or listen to one of their works. Sometimes we’ll expand through an art project, but keeping it low key keeps it sustainable for me, so I don’t over plan. At the end of our time together, I play the hymn over bluetooth speakers in our home, and the kids follow along with the sheet music. This year, I specifically found piano and guitar sheet music for some of the hymns so my kids who are learning to play can try.
  4. Read Aloud Rotation: I read from one of the following each day: history or biographical book, nature study, or a novel/tale. The best ones always elicit “one more chapter’. If I’m feeling under the weather, one of my older kids will read for me.

After I finish reading, I will ask them to narrate back to me a summary of the story. We do this orally as a group. We also add figures and events to our timeline notebook as we read too. Both of these activities gives them practice in synthesizing material, picking out key points from a larger text, and putting what they learned into their own words. These help with comprehension, note taking, and writing.

Most of the time, everyone settles in to our family room after breakfast and we begin. My teenagers can get a little too comfy, and take the opportunity to sleep more, so I implemented a “I have to see your eyes” rule. For my younger guys, I’ve always had a “you can play as long as it’s not disruptive” guideline, so a quiet activity like building with blocks, drawing, etc. works great.

It’s not always smooth or easy, but it’s always worthwhile. Oh, and we have one more rule…if for whatever reason, I’m not ready to start morning collective by 10 am, we don’t do it that day. That is a rule we implemented last year, because my olders would be frustrated if they felt they were 1) waiting on me before they could get started or 2) very far into their school work already and I was disrupting their flow. I thought it was a fair guildeine to put in place, because typically it was my fault for putting other things ahead of starting it.

Do you have a morning (or afternoon) collective? How does it work for your family? I’d love to hear what you include.

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