I have no intention of resurrecting our home school series, but I did want to add an extra post on our morning meeting. Our school, whilst fundamentally remaining the same as ever before has taken on a move towards independence and project based learning. The morning meeting however has stood the test of time. This meeting, which lasts for an hour or so, has occurred every day without fail for the past six years. It is loved by all and it contributes much to our home school.
Our morning meeting is exactly as it sounds – a meeting which happens every morning. It lasts for approximately one hour. It used to be the first thing we did after chores, but since the children started swimming each morning, which shortens the morning somewhat, it now happens after the maths slot. T12 does one hour of maths per day whilst the girls do half an hour. Usually L11 looks after A3 whilst C11 does half an hour of maths and I concentrate on phonics, maths and writing with A6. After half an hour C11 takes A6 and B3 to play whilst L11 does her maths for half an hour. After Christmas B3 will be starting preschool and doing her half an hour of phonics and maths. Once maths is done it is time for our morning meeting.
Tea and Toast
When I asked the children what they liked most about the morning meeting T12’s immediate response was ‘tea and toast’. One of my joys in the morning is the children busy in the kitchen preparing snack:
As the morning meeting happens around 10am it is the perfect time for a break and a snack. Tea and toast is a great, healthy snack which wakes up the children and keeps them going until lunch time. It is also useful for the little ones to be busy doing something at the start of the meeting (eating and drinking) so whilst I am reading aloud they are not disruptive.
The girls both cited the read aloud as one of their favourite parts of the morning meeting. And I have to say, it would be my favourite part. For a while I stopped reading aloud to them because T12 (at around 9) said he read sufficiently well as to prefer reading to himself rather than have me read to him. So I stopped. I really wish I hadn’t because I think the girls missed out. Anyway, a year or so ago I began again, insisting that T12 remained a part of it regardless of whether he wanted to be there or not. And I’m so glad I did!
Reading aloud means that everyone in the family hears the same fictional story and/or the same non fictional information. It gives us all something in common to discuss, share opinions and feelings over. It allows the children the opportunity to chat about any worries (as was the case when we read The Hot Zone, about the Ebola break out in Washington); but it has also helped to bind the five children in pretend play, which I honestly thought had stopped. Right now we are reading a fiction book which has inspired all five children to begin building wigwams outside. I am certain if I had assigned the books as individual reading this extremely fun and in-depth group play would not have occurred as each child would have been reading a different book at any given time.
An opportunity to learn together
I think it was L11 who said that one of the things she enjoyed the most about the morning meetings was the opportunity to learn less academic stuff but nevertheless important stuff. It also allows us to all be on the same page so to speak. T12 particularly likes the fact that everyone is encouraged to join in and that everyone has an opportunity to speak and share. C11 stated how much she enjoyed the closeness it encourages between us all, and often how it turns into an informal chatting session! I like the fact it is one of the few times we learn as a whole family. So often, given the age difference between the older set and the younger set, the children are learning different things apart. Ensuring we spend an hour together each day is so helpful in building relationships and understanding how we all tick.
I use the morning meetings as an opportunity to discuss what my expectations for the day are. We tend to stick to a fairly good routine most days, but if I particularly need the children to finish off a piece of work or need them to help out with a project around the house, this is the time to ask them. Again, it consolidates each person’s own expectations for the day, which helps create a happier, more compliant atmosphere around the house.
Last but not least we do bible. We do it last because it involves writing which they can not do when they are eating and drinking. We are currently slowly making our way through Apologia’s Who is God series. I bought in notebooks for the older ones and for the younger two, a colouring in book linked to the series:
The Foundation of our Day
The morning meeting really is the foundation upon which the rest of the day is built. It is my opportunity to assess the general state of the children. By that I mean if they are tired, hormonal, grumpy or full of energy. It allows me to tweak their schedule to meet their current needs. T, if he is hormonal, always responds well to physical activity so we make room in the schedule for a run in the park or walk with Oscar for him; the older girls both find a bath very relaxing during any hormonal upsets. I am particularly sensitive to any tiredness in any of the children and always inquire as to whether anyone needs a quiet time after lunch, or even a nap. This regular time with them each morning is like a barometer to measure the conditions we will be working under on any given day. It is useful, healthy and ultimately our favourite time of the day.