The core of our learning for the day is our “Morning Time” or “Power Hour”. We have been doing this routine since starting homeschool over 14 years ago. However, how we do it has changed throughout the years. Some people call it “Morning Time” or “Morning Basket”, while others call it “Circle Time”. Then there are some who call it “Power Hour or Hour of Power”. You can call it what you would like. I like to call it our Family Empower Hour.
We do our Family Empower Hour at the dining room table and keep all of our items that we use during this time on a small bookshelf next to the table which makes it very convenient for us. Some families like to keep their items in a basket. I prefer our bookshelf. For me personally, I like having everything organized for our Family Empower Hour in this way. It’s a preference though, so however you organize or keep your items used for your morning routine is just fine. We used to do our learning in the family room, but it seemed that even with the little ones having something to quietly play with, there was just too much distraction. So we started having our lessons at the dining room table and it has definitely been so much more effective for our family.
If our Family Empower Hour is the only thing we get done for the day, as there are some days that it is, I am content with that. To me, it is our most important learning for the day. It is a time that together as a family we are able to learn, sing, read, and pray together. If we ever end up starting the day with anything else, it always seems that the day is just chaotic and something is missing. So, Family Empower Hour is a priority in our home.
When we first started out with this routine, it was short and simple. We would sing a children’s hymn, have prayer, say the pledge of allegiance, do a devotional lesson, and then a read aloud. And really, if that is all that is done, that’s great! When starting out, I would definitely recommend starting with a short and simple agenda.
Throughout the years, our Family Empower Hour has grown into a more in depth routine. We gradually added in other things such as Calendar or Going over our Agendas Time, Geography, History, Shakespeare, Music, Art, and such. We have now worked our way up to about an hour and sometimes less of doing our routine.
During our Family Empower Hour each morning, we have our Devotional, Read Aloud, and Enrichment Learning. Now I said “morning”, however, this does not have to be done in the morning. We are all in different seasons of life and there have been many times that we did not get started until after lunch. Especially when there’s a baby in the picture. We do aim to do it every morning though and I like to have it during or right after breakfast or mid morning snack time when possible.
So these are the things that are included in our morning or daily routine for our Family Empower Hour:
- Hymn Practice
- Spiritual Thought or Inspirational Quote
- Going over the calendar and agenda for the day
- Pledge of Allegiance
- Scripture Memorization
- Devotional Lesson (which usually includes our character quality/habit or value that we are currently working on)
- Word of the Day (Taken from The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy)
- Read Aloud Time
- Enrichment Learning
Currently, our Enrichment Learning topics or subjects are the following (I have also included some of the resources we are using):
- Latin (Latina Christiana)
- Picture/Artist Study (Simply Charlotte Mason’s Picture Study Portfolios)
- Shakespeare (Tales from Shakespeare by Charles & Mary Lamb)
- Nature Study (I will list these resources in a separate post as they are many!)
- Music/Composer Study (Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers and Simply Charlotte Mason’s Music Study with the Masters)
- Handicrafts/Art (This year, we are working on: Crocheting, Knitting, Sewing, Pottery, Natural Dying, Whittling, Basket Weaving, Soap Making w/goats milk & honey, and Herbal Medicines & Skin Care)
- Poetry (We are using Ambleside Online’s recommendations)
- Writing (We do a mix of journal and creative writing prompts. For little ones, they will say out loud what they want to write about and I will write it for them and then let them illustrate it.)
- Folk Songs (We are using Ambleside Online’s recommendations)
- Life Skills (We have a binder that I keep a list of Life Skills that I want my children to learn before they are an adult and we work from this list.)
- Around the World Countries & Culture Study (Give Your Child the World and many of the books recommended within and A Child’s History of the World)
- Government (Declaration Learning)
- American History (Beautiful Feet Books including their Biographies and Stories of the Nations from Simply Charlotte Mason)
- Logic (The Fallacy Detective)
We study Latin everyday and we do our Nature Study, Handicrafts/Art, Life Skills, and Around the World Countries & Culture Study every week for the whole entire year. The other topics we do once a week as well, but split them in half to where we are studying each of the them for 6 weeks each term (per 12 weeks) at a time. So for example, our first term (12 weeks) for this school year, we are doing Picture/Artist Study, Shakespeare, Music/Composer Study, and Government each week (once a week) for the first 6 weeks and then we are doing Poetry, Writing, Folksongs, and American History the second half of the term for 6 weeks. We then use this same rotation for each term throughout the school year.
Now my list may seem like A LOT to cover in a day, a week, or even for the year. However, first of all, we focus on short, but quality lessons. As Charlotte Mason encouraged… “spreading a feast before our children, giving them endless opportunity to taste, savor, enjoy, discover, and appreciate many different kinds of intellectual food, otherwise known as ideas. We should provide an intellectual culture… To help cultivate the power to appreciate, to enjoy, whatever is just, true, and beautiful in thought and expression.” So because we focus on short lessons, we are able to get through more topics or subjects each day.
Second, a few of these topics that are more time consuming such as Handicrafts/Art, Around the World Countries & Culture Study, and Life Skills, we do on Fridays which is the day that I have left open for these topics including Latin in addition to our coop classes and/or nature school, and field trips. There are some days, however, that we may not finish all of our Enrichment lessons and will either continue later on in the day to finish them or sometimes we may just not finish them a particular day due to well… life, life with a baby, a toddler, or just because we decide to do something else instead. And that is okay!
I have often been asked what I do to keep the little ones as reverent as possible during our Family Empower Hour. I always include them with us as I feel they should be included. They actually learn more than we think during this time and they also learn by our (me and the older one’s) examples. During our Family Empower Hour, I bring out special items that I like to keep in a basket that only come out for this occasion each day. Only allowing them to experience these particular items during Family Empower Hour makes it more exciting for them and doesn’t get old. I also rotate items in the basket every so often. The items I provide are quiet and as much as possible, non-messy items such as lacing cards, items to color and/or draw with, books, play do and/or clay, magnetic toys, Montessori Animal Match and other Montessori toys or activities. There are days when even these items do not keep our young ones quiet the whole time but they do make a big difference and help make for a happy child for the most part.
So this is it! Our “morning time” routine… It’s not perfect. It’s always a work in progress. But it’s a beautiful experience for our family and has been part of our family culture for years. How about your’s? I would love to hear what your family does for your morning time or power hour! I am always open to new ideas!