I recently heard a new homeschool term: morning baskets.
As the mom of two graduates and a halfway-through-high-schooler, I confess to not being up on much of the latest homeschool lingo. But as I listened to the description of morning baskets, the concept sounded like an old familiar friend.
Many moons ago, before my homeschool career began, I worked at a local mother’s day out program. As soon as morning arrival time ended, most of the teachers would gather all of the children in their room into a group for some fun “together” activities.
The agenda varied from week to week, but the activities would range from singing the alphabet song or identifying letters, colors, and shapes to reading a story out loud or singing fun songs with goofy motions.
We called it circle time, and the point of this time was for all the children to come together and enjoy joint learning activities.
As I listened to the discussion about morning baskets, this new-to-me homeschool term, I immediately thought, “Oh! It’s the homeschool version of circle time!”
When I became a homeschool mom, I took the circle time concept and used it with my own children. The specifics changed over the years, but the general idea remained the same. There was always something we would do to enjoy learning together, no matter how many other activities needed to be done individually.
Incorporating Morning Baskets into a Homeschool Day
I love the term morning baskets because it gives the sense of so much more than just time together. It gives the sense that there is thought and preparation that goes into this time. It also indicates physical components of books, special learning toys, or other fun items that would be included in a basket.
Obviously, a basket is not required. A cute bucket, tub, crate, or even bag could be used instead.
But the idea of having a container of some sort that holds specific items geared toward joint learning time is solid. This lets your children know that this time is intentional and special — and it ensures that you take the time to prepare and plan!
So, what exactly goes into a homeschool morning basket? Let’s explore that question, shall we?
Morning Baskets Fit Your Need
The first and most important thing to understand about morning baskets is that there is no right or wrong formula. The point of a homeschool morning basket is to find school day activities that everyone can do together.
In my early years of homeschooling, we did a lot more together than separately. In fact, until my oldest entered middle school, the only subjects that were separate were math and language arts.
I didn’t discover the morning basket concept until my oldest had graduated and the rest were in high school. But, looking back, there was a time when technically read-aloud, science, history, music, art, games, and other school-related activities would all have fit into the morning basket concept!
That might not be the case for you. The key isn’t to copy what someone else has done. Instead, the key is to find what fits your need and go with it!
Morning Baskets Change Over the Years
I mentioned what our homeschool situation looked like in the early years, but that has definitely changed over time. As my oldest entered middle school, she needed separate science and history from her younger siblings. So, what would have been defined as our morning basket had to change as well.
When your children are very small, you might choose to not really have a morning basket, so to speak, simply because all of school can be done together. Or perhaps you will choose to make your morning basket a very special and focused thing, including fun books, games, props for song motions, or other activities specifically geared to start your day.
By the time you reach the high school years, it might be that your only joint activity is a family read-aloud because everything else has to be done separately.
But, this is also when it could be fun to encourage your students to add a favorite reader to the basket so they can encourage their siblings to read it. Or perhaps the poem one child wrote for a writing assignment was particularly hilarious and would be fun to share as the day gets started.
It is good and necessary for your morning basket to change as your family dynamics change. But it is also so very good to always hang on to something that you can all do together, even in the high school years.
Morning Baskets Need to Be Planned
If you run an internet search for morning baskets (which I encourage — much good information is available), you will find a common theme: morning baskets are very intentional.
Whether you have a very solidly planned and established curriculum or enjoy a much more flexible unschooling approach, it’s always important to work within a framework that guides your homeschooling and ensures that you reach academic markers.
A morning basket is no exception! By taking the time to put some advance thought and energy into your morning basket, you not only create something that furthers your academic goals. You also grow relationships with your children through the evidence of your intentionality in seeing their needs and desires.
As you transition from one week into the next, think about what you want your morning basket to include. What will you read together this week? What activities can you enjoy? Even 20-30 minutes of intentional preparation can make all the difference in the effectiveness and delight of your morning basket.
Now it’s your turn! Is this your introduction to the morning basket idea, or do you use one? If you do implement morning baskets, what is included in yours? Share in the comments, and let’s help each other with fun ideas!