The entire time I have been doing homeschool, a morning time routine seemed a natural way to work through our day, getting devotion, prayer, memory work, and the like into the mix. Something informal for the little ones to be able to naturally start to join in as they were ready. I found myself sitting in the same place every morning (the hearth in our living room) and telling the kids, “Gather ’round.”
Not all of them would come, but I had the quorum I needed…usually. The little ones would wander in and out throughout our “Gathering.” They would hear a song they wanted to enjoy with us and come running. They would wander back to their toys when the music died down, toddling back in for their turn to sit on Mama’s lap for reading.
It was really loose.
We started settling into a routine of morning time a while back. It was a natural outcome of the rhythms of our day. But getting a routine right took some adjusting. And sticking to it became even harder as seasons in our lives changed. Thankfully, I feel like we have really found our homeschool groove in the past 6 months. Scheduling seems to be easier. Getting through the day without major tantrums is a blessing in itself. And staying the course when diaper changes or nap times interrupt our day has become de rigueur.
Since I finally settled on the idea of creating placemats for our Gathering (our morning time) a few months ago, we have enjoyed them as a family immensely! I toil on them as often as possible in an attempt to get all of this coming school year’s placemats created and ready to go…before the first day of school.
We are a modified year-round schooling family, so it is busy around here even in the summer. And June was a CRAZY busy month, filled with lots of unexpected adventures. I created our June placemats knowing that most of the time we would not be at home to enjoy them.
Incorporating the practice of Gathering in our days has been one of the most natural processes we have undertaken. In large measure, the ease with which we have done this is due to the addition of our Gathering placemats. As they are always out on the counter for breakfast, ready to be devoured along with the cereal and cinnamon toast of our mornings; they constitute a simple feast.
They drive conversations in the early part of our day. Much to my delight, they are also lovingly shown off to pretty much anyone who comes by our house. And they have become precious to me.
As I have developed a set for each month of the upcoming school year, I have had private celebrations. There is a moment of glory when just the right piece of art lines up perfectly to just the right quote from Shakespeare. A blessed sigh of relief is exhaled when there are just 4 boxes left. Followed by an internal dance party when a full month’s set is complete.
I started creating these simple Gathering placemats for our morning time. We call it Gathering simply because my invitation to begin our family’s special time is, “Gather ’round!”
Our Gathering was super simple in the beginning. It included Bible time, singing, and poetry. And honestly, that is all we had time for.
I knew there were so many more riches I wanted to share with my precious little learners.
BUT we never seemed to get around to the beautiful art I wanted to show my kids. Rarely, we got to create our own art together. We never had time to just have simple conversations about little things. And we didn’t spend time delighting in the little bits of our day…until we sat around the kitchen island at meal times and snack times.
Because we have two little ones, one officially starting preschool this fall, I have been thinking about ways to incorporate them in our homeschool day. It is a task that plagues me regularly. I can’t seem to find enough activities to fill their days. As a result, they are into everything…all the time.
Now, we have also started a practice our family calls Gathering. It is basically morning time for our whole family. It tends to be directed towards our school age kids with some things that delight all of us. My son (my current 3 year old) is obsessed with Gathering. And just this morning my youngest (N, just turned 2) started hearing the requests for Gathering her brother was making and looked at our Google Home device and said, “Google.”