How to Build a Secular Morning Basket

Everyone’s homeschool journey is different, and all the methods have pieces and parts that may resonate with you.

Where we live, kiddoes don’t have to have any sort of “compulsory” education until age 6, which means this is our first official homeschooling year. EEEEK. I have known since my oldest was a baby that we would avoid the germs and homeschool her. The what – when – how were; however, a bit murky. So I did what I always do: research! Oh, how I love to research what interests me. Weird how that works. I read Free to Learn and the Call of the Wild + Free. I’ve read blogs and listened to podcasts and spent an insane number of hours on Pinterest. And curriculum research? Oh, Mylanta.

Part of all this research led me to realize that there are pieces and parts of all the different homeschooling methods that resonate with me. One of the beautiful things about homeschooling is realizing you don’t have to subscribe to any one method to educate your children. You may love unschooling for natural sciences, but decide that you need something more hands-on and structured for math and reading or want something literature-based or experiential for history. This realization has provided me with limitless freedom in how to educate my children and I couldn’t be more excited for this adventure together.

The morning basket is a beautiful concept to bring families together

One of my favorite homeschool concepts is the morning basket. It’s so simple in its idea, but so powerful in bringing the family together. I knew from the first time I read about them that this was something I wanted to incorporate into our learning journey. Where I struggled; however was knowing what to put into our “morning” basket. To start, I have mixed age kids (2, 4, and 6). Additionally, not all my kids can or want to sit and cuddle for stories. My middle really needs to do something with her hands. Worst of all -most of blogs out there that gave a specific list of what was in the morning baskets, but there wasn’t much that provided a general guide to the categories.

Secular homeschooling ideas are difficult to find

Normally, having a list of stuff to execute what I’m researching is my jam. I love lists. But this situation was different. According to the HSLDA, about 66% of homeschoolers identify as Christian. This means the vast majority of homeschooling blogs are from a Christian worldview and usually include the Bible, hymns, and some sort of recitation of Biblical verses. Nothing against religion, it just isn’t my cup of tea. And when you take religion out of the abovementioned examples, you’re often not left with much to make up your own. Or any semblance of an idea of how to replace them.

So finally after checking out what Pam Barnhill had to say on the matter, I finally came to the conclusion that our morning basket needed to represent the top three to five things I want to incorporate into my children’s days. Things that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle of what the state tells me I must teach.

Every family’s basket is going to look different

It goes without saying that every family’s morning basket is going to look differently depending on their family culture. And maybe you don’t do your “morning basket” in the morning. I don’t. We do ours right after nap with a cookie in hand. There’s nothing wrong with any particular approach.

Recently I’ve realized that, while I’m home with my children, I often miss out on connecting with them – giggling, playing and just enjoying one another’s company. So my morning basket is going to prioritize that connection time above all else. It might even be better called a “connection crate” in our house. Yeah. I like that. Ultimately, here are the categories I decided to include in our morning basket / connection crate:

1. Seasonal stories / activities.

Fun fact: I LOVE celebrating life. And I absolutely love celebrating the seasons. One way I can incorporate this into our homeschool rhythm and ensuring the zest for life doesn’t get lost in the shuffle is by incorporating these stories into our connection crate!

2. A game

I do not play enough with my children. Guilty as charged. I absolutely despise pretend, especially the variety where we need to act out the same handful of scenes 800 billion times. Listen, it has it’s place. I support my kids and provide them with all sorts of dramatic play outlets. But this is one place I just do not engage. I do; however, LOVE to play games with them. Putting a game in our “morning basket” ensures we prioritize connection and good sportsmanship. Guess in 10 has been great for my mixed aged group, but my oldest loves Sleeping Queens.

3. A character story AND emotional literacy cards

Just because I’m not into religion, doesn’t mean I don’t want to raise good humans. The world would be a better place if we were all less judgmental and a lot more empathetic. A good way to get there is by opening the door to conversations about different life experiences. Our emotional literacy cards help the kids name emotions – which is so important to processing their own life experiences, and (hopefully) keeping them out of a lifetime of unpacking their childhood in therapy when they’re older. (For the record: I love my therapist.)

4. Something to make them laugh

Laughter really is the best medicine and life doesn’t have to be so darn serious. Yes, there are serious things going on in the world but it’s important to find humor even in challenging times. This could be something as simple as a joke book or a funny story.

5. Something to do with their hands

Kids are made to wiggle and this just provides an outlet to my wigglers to fidget while they absorb our stories and conversations. This could be playdough, blocks, a seasonal-themed coloring sheet with crayons, stickers, beads, a lacing toy or an independent puzzle.

Homeschooling can be incredibly liberating if you let it be

No matter what your reasons for deciding to homeschool your kiddoes, I believe it is incredibly freeing. If you don’t like alarm clocks, don’t use one. If you want your kids to have mealtimes like those in France and Finland, do it. Breaking free of conventional / mainstream schooling has so many options, it might make your head spin. But I’m hopeful that if you’re a secular homeschooler in search of how to create your own morning basket, this post will have helped you brainstorm some new ideas. So go forth and raise good humans!

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