Your specific family situation can make it seem impossible to add morning baskets to your homeschool. Use these ideas to make morning baskets work for you.
You’ve read all about morning baskets and have decided you want to implement one in your homeschool. So you gather everything you want to include. And it works well…for 3 weeks.
Then one day your oldest doesn’t wake up until it’s too late to do your morning basket.
A few days later your tween is giving you a hard time because they want to skip morning time to get to their “real work”.
The following week you have difficulty keeping the attention of your preschooler during read aloud.
You begin to feel like you’re failing your kids. On Instagram, all you see are pictures of kids enjoying their morning basket time. Why can’t you go one week without ending your family’s morning time in tears of frustration?
What are you doing wrong?
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You aren’t doing anything wrong! Please don’t be a morning basket dropout. All your morning basket may need is a tweak or two to better fit your family’s needs.
How to Adapt a Morning Basket to Fit Your Family’s Needs
As you prepare to introduce morning baskets to your homeschool, you may have concerns arise for your family’s particular situation. Below I address many of the concerns that come up in homeschooling families regarding morning baskets. My family is not immune either. We’ve encountered several of the following issues ourselves through the years.
1. How to Make Morning Baskets Work in a Family with Large Age Gaps
Homeschooling families may be large with children of many different ages. It can be frustrating to plan a morning time, only to have your preschoolers and kindergarteners get bored and cause disruption. How can you possibly accommodate everyone’s ages and interests in your morning basket?
Only include items in your morning basket that everyone can be part of.
One solution to accommodate all of your children with morning baskets is to only include what all of your children can do. Perhaps that is only prayer or Bible time or a nature study. And that’s ok. There is no rule that states what must be included in a morning basket or how long it must last. A great benefit to homeschooling is the flexibility to do what works best for your family!
However, don’t assume that your younger children won’t be able to handle certain subjects. They might just surprise you! If you start small and build up your morning time subject by subject, then you’ll easily see when it becomes too much and you can pull back.
Have separate morning baskets for the various age groups.
Another solution to using morning baskets with large age groups is to break them into 2 morning baskets, one for the older children and one for the younger ones. In the younger children’s basket, you may include fun picture books, games, and crafts. Your older children’s morning basket might contain enrichment subjects like picture study and poetry.
Begin the morning basket with everyone, then dismiss the oldest or youngest.
A final solution to a large age gap is to begin your morning basket with everyone, then dismiss a group to finish morning time with the rest of the kids. For example, you could start with everyone for perhaps prayer time, then allow your older children to work independently while you do a morning time with younger children. After you are done with the younger ones, then you could begin morning basket with your older children or not do a morning time at all with them.
2. When to Start Morning Baskets if Kids Wake at Different Times
If you are one of the homeschooling families who let your children wake at their leisure, then you may have a problem with having a mix of early and late risers. We have fallen into this problem in the past. One of my school-age children is quite an early riser, while the others prefer to sleep in a couple of hours more.
This became a problem because my early riser would often want to get the day started with morning baskets so he could move on to his independent work. He got angry at his siblings because they were making his day longer due to their sleeping later.
What can you do besides waking the late risers up each day to solve this problem? We’ve used a couple of ideas that worked. One year I let my early riser complete his math lesson with me while everyone slept. He was happy to cross math off his list, with the added bonus of having my full attention.
Another year I let him go outside and burn off some energy in the backyard. He loves being outside, so this worked well until it became too cold for him in the morning.
Now our solution is to start with a song. I chose an upbeat song to begin our school day, which starts with our morning basket. My kids loved it so much that we now hold a dance party during the song. Then everyone is in the room and ready to begin our morning time. Any early risers know they have until I get the song ready to play in the morning.
Are you new to morning baskets or need some help setting them up? When you join the Homeschooling in Progress email community, you’ll receive homeschooling tips, ideas, and encouragement in your email inbox to help you simplify your homeschool day. PLUS you’ll get a FREE Morning Basket Quick Tips & Monthly Ideas quick start guide to set up your morning basket today.
3. How to Handle Bad Attitudes toward Morning Baskets
Now, I’m sure your children would never have a bad attitude toward their schoolwork. Mine are likely the only ones. 😉 However, if this problem ever plaques your home, perhaps once you have a teen or two in your house, you might want some ideas on what to do about it.
One of my children really began to dislike our morning basket time as their workload increased in the higher grades. This child didn’t consider morning time to be “real work” and wanted to skip it and move along to core subjects.
So I began assigning parts of our morning time to this child to lead. In particular, this child did our read alouds each day. The attitude improved and said child enjoyed being on the teaching side of our morning basket.
However, sometimes you may just get pushback from a child who doesn’t want to participate in morning time. If you’ve tried other ideas and nothing seems to work, then you may just have to let that child do the morning basket work independently. It’s not ideal, of course, but if one child’s bad attitude begins rubbing off on siblings, doing your morning basket minus one child is better than not being able to do it at all.
4. How to Fit Morning Baskets into Your Homeschool Day
Finding the time to fit your morning basket work into your homeschool day can be a big problem. Doesn’t it seem like something is always coming up? The baby needs a new diaper, someone can’t find a pencil, the phone rings… How are you supposed to fit morning time in with all of these interruptions?! By the time you take care of everyone’s needs, it feels too late to try to start your morning basket.
I’ve found the best way to fit morning baskets into our day is to anchor it on something else we always do. Many families like to start their morning baskets over breakfast because you have to eat everyday. Like I mentioned above, we start the day with a song or dance party. It has been the perfect transition to morning basket for us. I make sure to only start it once everyone is ready with fresh diapers and materials they’ll need for morning time. Then after the song ends, we’re together in good moods and ready to learn. You may also like to read about more tips on creating a morning time routine.
5. How to Know What to Add to Your Morning Basket
A final problem that may arise when you decide to add morning baskets to your homeschool is deciding what to include. So many wonderful materials are available to choose from that you may find you don’t know what to choose!
Just remember that homeschooling is more like a marathon than a sprint. You have many years to add in all sorts of wonderful books, lessons, and activities into your morning time. So don’t think you have to put everything into this year’s basket! You can read many ideas for creating the perfect morning basket, but ultimately you have to decide what will work best for your homeschool right now. Many times I’ve had to hold something back because it just wasn’t the right time to cover it, no matter how great a resource. And that’s ok. You have to do what works best for your family and your homeschool. There’s always next year.
If you would like to see examples of lesson plans that are ready-made for you to help you get started, check out Pam Barnhill’s Morning Time Plans. Not that you have to do everything in them, but she includes anything you might want to add to your morning basket for many different topics. It’s a great way to add in seasonal extras to your morning basket.
The use of morning baskets, or a morning time, is too valuable to miss. When you find hiccups along the way that keep you from getting to this important time together, then you’ll want to try to figure out how to adapt morning time around them. Just as your family is different from any other homeschooling family, your morning basket is probably going to look different from any other family’s as well. Use the tips above to figure out how to make morning baskets work for your homeschool so that you can reap the benefits of this wonderful resource!