September slipped away so fast! There were some major milestones and lots of learning around here – for all of us! We are settling into the swing of our school year. Our Gathering is the anchor of our days, requested and well-loved around here.
I was talking with a friend about our Gathering the other day. It reminded me of how it all began. And I thought I would share our road to morning time, which we call Gathering.
The History of our Gathering
I heard about morning time/morning basket routines a few years ago and I knew it was something I wanted to include in our days. But it was really HARD! At the time we had 3 kids and one on the way. By the time we added our fourth, we had 4 kids under the age of 6. Mornings were less than routine. And the little ones were just not that interested in what was going on.
I trudged on. Calling, “Gather ’round everybody!” at random times in the morning and hoping all who were interested would join in. Reading Bible stories to my oldest and working in some catechism songs that were easy enough for all the kids to remember. I would sing a little bit when I could think of something special to sing. We started our days with the same song and ended our days with lullabies I still love to sing to my little ones.
But there was something missing. Something that fed our connection as a family. Something that gave meaning to our morning time.
The First Gatherings
I started playing around with creating a morning time playlist. I had already started calling our morning time, Gathering. And I started creating a playlist with hymns and Scripture memory songs. I would play classical music for kids (I still really like the Maestro Classics). The playlists became an instant connection point for our family. I could put those on and we could enjoy listening together, learning new songs and dancing together.
But there was still something missing. I had heard all about what morning time was supposed to look like. It was supposed to have poetry and art study integrated into it. There were people who fit in geography study and memory work, math games and Shakespeare! And there were people whose kids purportedly begged for it. It was me who was begging my kids to join in on the non-playlist items of our Gathering.
It was and could be so much richer – I knew it. But between the Bible study time and the basic Gathering we were doing, we were barely able to add another thing and still get through our day. I bought endless art prints and downloaded all sorts of resources! And still, I couldn’t figure out how to fit it in our day.
Then I had a lightbulb moment.
I could put all the riches and wonders I wanted to share with my kids in front of them in the one place I knew I had their attention – our breakfast table. We actually eat at our kitchen island, but it is our breakfast table.
When we switched our Gathering from the living room to the dining room (kitchen), the meaning of our Gathering developed in such a specific way. We now had time to savor the riches of the art and artists I had been trying (and failing) to share with my kids. We could read Bible verses and poetry together. There were the lyrics to the hymns so my reading kids could follow along and begin to memorize, too. My kids were challenged by the brain teasers and tongue twisters I included on them.
They began to get excited about our Gathering, asking for me to do our Gathering playlist and swapping placemats with each other. Favorites emerged, thoughts were shared. Randomly, a child would look up from her bowl of cereal and shout, “I know! I know why ______!” And we would have actual conversations!!
Our Gathering was finally complete! Finally it is what I had envisioned it to be. And it was a blessing!
October 2019 brings the artist Pieter Bruegel the Elder back to our Gathering for another month. The hymn is Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring – a beloved melody that is sure to ring in our heads and hearts throughout the month. And the artist is Mozart! (Yes, we follow the Ambleside Online schedules as best we can).
If you have been struggling to figure out how this morning time thing works, please consider using our Gathering placemats as a starting point. They have been so helpful in our morning time journey! You can check them out in our Shop or you can get two free sets when you subscribe to our Saturday Stroll emails.