Since we had Jocelyn last summer, then packed the house and moved across country 3 months later, we didn’t accomplish much school from July- December. I just wasn’t being consistent with a baby who didn’t sleep and trying to unpack and settle into a new house and life. And that was ok, that’s the beauty of home education, they learn through life and not just “formal school time.”
Jocelyn wasn’t a consistent napper, the twins stopped needing to sleep at nap time (SO SAD), and I found myself unwilling to use the hour and a half of “rest time” to do school time. I needed that time to regroup myself and accomplish chores around the house. The time had come that school would need to move to a time when ALL THE KIDS WERE AWAKE. To be honest, this terrified me. I continued to try and get through all the read-alouds and subjects I wanted to cover with Jarvis and we were more consistent in the Spring, but often we were only getting to his core subjects. While we both enjoyed the content, he had trouble focusing with the noise of his siblings and I was constantly needed and interrupted. I began to wonder how all those large homeschooling families managed to get any work done at all!
Then early this summer, I had several resources and authors that just kept popping up in conversations, facebook articles, and books I was reading. I couldn’t ignore that God was clearly pushing me towards a new pace and style of home education.
First, a new friend invited me to join a book club on Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie. We were out of town during the book club, but I started in on the book by myself, and over the course of the next month, her book came up in many conversations and home education groups. I’ll share more about her book in another post but for now looping in particular has impacted our schedule, more on that in a bit.
The next resource I came across was mentioned in a home education article a friend shared on Facebook. The writer was a Charlotte Mason/classical methodology home educator and had been implementing and sharing about a method called Your Morning Basket. While originally Pam Barnhill learned about Morning Basket from a mentor of hers, after many years of home education utilizing Morning Basket, she has created a book, videos, and many resource sheets to help other moms implement it.
PLAN YOUR YEAR:
I’ll get to Morning Basket details in just a moment, but when looking through Pam Barnhill’s site, I also discovered her Plan Your Year Resource. It was fabulous and well worth the small investment. Although I already knew what method and resources we would be using, I utilized her plan to give me the big picture goals and organization for our year. In particular, I love the Vision and Inspiration Sheet, the individual Goals Worksheet for each child, and the Course of Study plan. I also utilized her Weekly Plan to evaluate our weekly schedule and the Daily Plan to block out our time. (She does have a free planning resource as well if you visit her site, but the book and samples walking you through is worth purchasing her basic package!) This package helped me develop and write my Vision for home education that I share on the Process post.
Here are our daily blocks. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday:
Morning Circle Time (about 30 mins.)
Jarvis Core (Jarvis’ math and reading, about 30 mins)
Twins loop (more on looping below, about 15 mins)
Jarvis loop (History, Bible, Geography and Logic, during rest time, about 20 mins)
(You may notice that Wednesday isn’t listed- we don’t do any ‘formal’ education on Wednesdays because 3 weeks a month I have MOPS activities on Wednesday mornings. Instead, the kids get to practicing sharing and listening to other adults! ha!)
In a nutshell, Morning Basket (or Morning Time as we call it), is a time that all of the kids and I get together and go over all those little “bonuses” in our curriculum goals that are easily left out or pushed behind. It’s a time to come together, talk, discuss, and begin our day. Pam’s book offers lots of practical tips and tricks on implementing this with all ages and curriculum goals, but I have found it works very well for us. It’s a slow start to the morning, we all get warmed up and ease into education time, we get to laugh together, learn, and everyone, even my littlest ones, feel like they get to “do school” without the unnecessary early pressure of school. This is my favorite part of the day.
Pam Barnhill shares, “Quite simply, Morning Time is subjects that the family can do together that emphasize truth, goodness, and beauty in their homeschool. Morning Time is a liturgy — one part of Charlotte Mason’s “atmosphere” of education. These small practices done daily over time are not only a means to an education (and a good one at that), but a means to shaping virtue in ourselves and in our children. While Morning Time will look slightly different in every family, there are some characteristics that are common across every Morning Time. Let’s talk a look at these common characteristics — the 3Rs, if you will, of Morning Time: Ritual, Reading, and Recitation,” plus any other subjects that you wish to do as a family.
Here are the subjects we cover during morning time with the resources listed next to them:
Prayer- we utilize the Five Finger Prayer or the ACTS prayer- (google those)
Hymn– Right now we are working on memorizing Holy, Holy, Holy and next we will memorize Joy to the World. (This is probably my kiddos favorite part of Morning Time! they now belt out Holy, Holy, Holy while we walk through Target, ha!)
Verse memorization– we have memorized Romans 12:21, John 14:15, and Matthew 7:12, up next is Psalms 34:13
Poetry- we read Tennyson one day and Shell Silverstein the next.
Math– we are reading through Life of Fred– Apples (this is a fun introduction to math concepts using a living story, the book series grow in complexity with age, the kiddos love Fred!)
Themed Read-Aloud– we either read The Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh or another read aloud they are interested in at the moment (right now we are reading Frindle because they are loving “making up words” in their pretend play.)
Art– we alternate between a Picture Study on Rembrandt (we’ve also completed Constable, Velasquez and Monet), and learning Chalk Pastels with HodgePodge.
Science– we are using the free living book Pond and Streams and it’s Companion to study wetlands, this includes nature journaling and many library book resources.
Devotions– we are working our way through The 24 Family Ways by Sally Clarkson- one of my all time favorite authors.
So I found Pam Barnhill completely independently from an article on Facebook, and I was already planning my year and learning about Morning Time when I discovered that Pam and Sarah mackenzie who wrote Teaching From Rest were good friends and had a joint webinar episode on looping (go watch it, it’s fabulous!), which was mentioned in Your Morning Basket, Plan Your Year AND Teaching From Rest.
I’m telling you, I felt like I had just found my WAY of home education and was just as excited as when I found my CONTENT of home education in Charlotte Mason!
I feel like most people who home educate know all to well that feeling of “getting behind.” You carefully plan and lay out the year, but then life happens and everyone gets sick, or a chance for a field trip pops up, or you get pregnant, or have a baby, or get orders to move, or just LIFE. And then you fall behind your plans. And all of the sudden, education time becomes rushed and harried and you NEED to check off that to do list and no one is having fun, much less learning anything. Loop scheduling is basically writing down everything you want to cover, writing a frequency priority (for example we do 2 bible lessons for every 1 history and 1 geography), and then “scheduling it in a loop.” These are subjects that you don’t need to cover daily, but you do want to make progress in.
For example, since the twins are young (4) and don’t have any need to do any formal education right now, but they do have the desire, I loop all their subjects. They participate in Morning Time, and then they have about 10-15 minutes of their loop subject together. Every day that they choose to do school, they just move onto the next subject in their loop. If they work diligently for 10 minutes and don’t want to complete anymore, we save it for the next day (teaching the Charlotte Mason habits of focus and perfect execution).
Here is their loop:
Reading (All About Reading: Pre-Reading for Joelle and Level 1 for Jonah)
Math (Math U See Primer for both)
Writing ( Delightful Handwriting for both- they love this!)
Logic Games (Our favorite are the Mini Luk series, Logik Street, Color Code, Camelot Jr. and Day and Night)
We also loop Jarvis’ Bible, History, Geography, and Logic Games utilizing the study series Genesis-Deuteronomy & Ancient Egypt from Simply Charlotte Mason and the same logic games listed above.
Jarvis’ Core Block is All About Reading Level 1 (he’s nearly finished and will move onto Level 2), and Math U See Alpha. He also does Delightful Handwriting once a week.
The big three each have their own checklist that they are responsible for keeping track of their loops and education. Instilling that self-responsibility early! Plus, if I say it’s time for a certain subject that may not be their favorite, they whine or argue, but if I tell them to check their list and tell me what is next, there isn’t any fussing! Make the (loop) schedule your friend!
Last little tidbit- everyone always asks what I do with Jean (3) and Jocelyn (1) during school time. I’m going to discuss this further with my review of Teaching From Rest, but basically, they participate in Morning Time with us. We always start at 900 or 930 and they all get a snack, which helps them stay put and listen. However, neither of the littles are required to stay at the table, and I usually set up little workbox activities for both of them during school time. Jocelyn inevitably needs to nap in the middle of school time and we take a break for me to put her down, or she screams to be held half the time, ha! Teaching From Rest has helped me learn to let go of that stress of needing to teach it all and have it look just right. Stay tuned for more on that!
So that probably seems crazy confusing with the way that I wrote it out. But in reality, it’s SO simple to follow. We have 4 major blocks, Morning Time, Jarvis Core, Twin Loop, and Jarvis Loop. I write down on notebook paper what we complete each day behind the corresponding tab at the end of the day, and then I know where to pick up when we sit down to begin again. I’ve included the complete Resource Planning List as well for an overall view of what we use.
SO- ANY QUESTIONS?
What do you use to plan? What do you use to handle lots of different ages and abilities in your home education? Do you learn independently or all together or a mix of both?