This January I will be having a little theme running through some of my posts on social media, and in the posts I share here on the blog. The theme is Morning Time. If you are especially interested in morning time, then keep an eye out for my #morningtimemusings posts, which I share on my social media platforms on a Monday. Next Wednesday, I'll be sharing a blog post with activities to keep little hands busy during read aloud time, and then the following Wednesday I have a book review scheduled.
What is Morning Time?
Morning time can look different for every family, but in short, it is a time to come together as a family (not necessarily in the morning) to share stories, poetry, and whatever else you may find difficult to otherwise fit into your daily rhythm. Some families include artist or composer study, nature study, learning a foreign language, simple handicrafts, even religious practice. Morning time is not a practice that is exclusive to home education. It can be a beautiful way for your family to come together and connect before leaving for nursery, school and work, or for families with little ones at home.
For us, it is an important anchor in our daily rhythm; a gentle, comforting and magical way to come together during or after our breakfast, before we start our morning project work. We read stories and poetry. We pick an affirmation card. Sometimes we do a little yoga or mindfulness exercise. We dip in and out of books that reflect our current interests and projects.
Creating a Morning Time Space
I would love to share with you some of my top tips for creating a morning time space. Spoiler alert!! There's no such thing as a perfect morning time space. Your space will likely evolve as your child grows. It may look different during the different seasons of the year, or seasons of your life. It may be that it is permanently mobile. Your space will reflect your child and family. It will be what works best for you. This is what has worked for us.
Morning Time on the Carpet
When Bean was under the age of 7 years (and still now, on some occasions) we would base ourselves for morning time in our living room, with access to a wide open floor space for play. I would set up an invitation to play for Bean on our carpet, and would read aloud to her while she played. You'll find some examples of the types of activities I would set up for Bean in my 31 Days of Morning Play Invitations digital guide. It's currently on sale, and includes the type of simple, open ended invitations to play that would engage my daughter in independent play for long enough to enable me to read aloud. I'll be sharing some examples from the guide in my Instagram stories over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for those.
It may seem to an outsider that my daughter is so engaged in play that she can't possibly be listening to me reading aloud, but that isn't the case. Bean will often interrupt me when I am reading aloud to comment or ask questions, and is able to answer comprehension questions too. Children can still listen and absorb information while they are moving around and playing, and for some children they find it easier to listen and absorb information if they are able to do so. Young children can feel very uncomfortable when asked or expected to sit still and listen for any length of time.
Remember, it is normal for children under the age of 5 years to have a short attention span, especially with activities that are NOT of their own initiation. You may spend just a few minutes reading aloud to a young child, then have them engage in something in which they play more of an active role, before reading a little more. That would be plenty. With children over the age of 5 years, I like to consider the age of the child, and then add 5 minutes. So, for my 10 year old, I would imagine that she can maintain attention for around 15 minutes. This is what we aim for at morning time, but in reality we often sit together for much longer because we are both enjoying it.
Morning Time at the Dining Table
It wasn't until Bean was around 7 years old that we naturally gravitated towards the dining table. This was because Bean was beginning to show more of an interest in drawing, colouring, writing, sticker books and other activities that required a flat surface to work at. We enjoyed being closer to the kitchen sink for cooking, painting and messy play activities too. The dining room is the lightest room in our house, and once our building work is finished we will have a larger floor space and doors that open out onto our garden. Bean and I are both so excited to set up our morning time space once our building work is complete.
Morning Time in Bed
If Bean is feeling especially tired, or under the weather, then we very occasionally have our morning time in bed. For much of December, we had morning time in bed. This was because our dining room was pretty much uninhabitable (noisy, dusty and draughty) with the builders working outside, and our living room felt too cluttered with our guinea pig set up, items awaiting relocation and large Christmas tree. Also, with Bean adjusting to her new weekly rhythm, with some days out of the home at her new setting, morning time took a back seat for a while. Sometimes, you have to work with what life throws at you.
A Temporary Morning Time Space
While our building work takes place, we have set up a temporary morning time space in our living room. We're enjoying sitting at the table in the bay window and watching the world go by (so much so, that we may consider keeping a table here in the future, for that purpose). It has been SO nice to have a table to work at again, and to be resuming our morning time together.
My Top Tips for Creating a Morning Time Space:
Gather all your resources into a basket, crate, box or trolley. We experimented with a trolley when they were all the rage, but found it too large for our purposes. You may need to experiment to find what works for you. If opting for a basket, I would recommend sourcing one that is quite sturdy to accommodate books (some books are very large, and collectively they are very heavy!) I prefer a square or rectangular basket for storing books.
Gather anything else you might need for your morning time, to avoid unnecessary interruptions. Bean has a caddy containing writing pencils, colouring pencils, writing pens, scissors, glue stick, a sharpener and rubber (eraser!) I have a mug with similar supplies. Scrap paper can be useful, as can a good supply of bookmarks.
Consider the aesthetics of your space. Can you clear it further so that the focus is on the activity at hand? Could you add some warm lighting or soft furnishings to make it feel cosy and inviting? It may seem that these things are unnecessary or superficial, but I think they make a real difference (they certainly do for us).
Your Questions Answered
This past Monday I opened up a question box about morning time in my Instagram stories. I thought it might be useful to share with you the questions I was asked, and my responses, in case you had the same question. If this post hasn't answered your question, please pm me at firstname.lastname@example.org as I may be able to address it in one of my morning time posts.
If you enjoyed reading this blog post, then you may enjoy reading these ones too:
As always, my inbox is open. Pm me if you have a burning question, or something that you'd like me to cover in a future blog post. My email address is email@example.com
This blog post contains affiliate links. If you do click through, Bean and I will receive a small amount of commission which will contribute to new books and resources for her home education. You can, however, find all of these resources elsewhere, including other online retailers, second hand selling pages and your local library.