Gathering together in the mornings has always been important for me in our home school. On the rare days we skip it, I feel it is hard to reconnect with the older ones particularly. As we come together, I hope we are able to set a tone for our day of rest, an attitude of attentiveness to God and one another.
[Wipes away tears, laughing] Ok, ok, when we both collect ourselves again, I will continue. I mean, I do have three boys, right? Their priorities are not likely the same as mine. Often they begin their day with no greater goal than to hurry up and be done with their work. Even so, we plug away at our morning meetings, because over time the things we do repeatedly, unthinkingly, in mundane ways can form us into better people. This is how God forms us. As we cast our cares on him, or say our meals, as we sweep after dinner or talk with one another late at night, these habits and traditions make us who we are and can transform us into who we will be.
And so each morning, whether my boys care or not, whether they are engaged or not, we gather together for a few moments before we all disperse to our separate corners of the house or living room or kitchen to complete our own work.
Every day our family experiences its own micro-diaspora. Like the early Christians gathered in Jerusalem waiting for instruction after the ascension of Jesus, we gather in our sunroom before being sent out.
Each year our morning time looks slightly different. This year we have my oldest back with us. He put in a few years at a private school, but is now back with us to finish out high school next year. Our road has been up and down with this one, but we are so grateful to have him back home.
We always have Bible readings. Some years we incorporate art appreciation or poetry. Here is what the 2019-2020 has looked like:
B I B L E
This year we read through the book of 2 Samuel as the youth in our church were studying this particular book.
We moved on to Advent readings in the prophets, then 1 John and the Gospel of Mark guiding us through Lent. As we finish out the school year we are choosing selected passages from the Gospel of Luke. My oldest has been choosing these for us. He uses YouVersion Bible app and likes to randomize the translations he reads from. Admittedly, this aggravates the youngest who has more difficulty following along if the words don’t match up just right.
Mostly, we read the passage and pray briefly. Other times we might practice lectio divina, although they are often too impatient to participate in this. They do enjoy periodically practicing imaginative prayer, placing yourself within the story and using your senses to explore the text.
We name things in the story we wonder about.
T H E B I B L E P R O J E C T
Along with our Bible reading we started watching YouTube videos produced by the animators at thebibleproject. This is a crowd-funded group who creates animated videos on the literary themes and stories of the Bible, as well as podcasts and other resource teaching materials. They are impressive for their quality, accessibility and depth. Each book of the Bible has its own 5 – 7 minute video highlighting the setting, genre, structure and message. We are currently up to the book of Jeremiah.
And we follow this all up with the day’s episode of CNN 10 with Carl Azuz. We have watched the ten minute world news report off and on over the last several years. It keeps us just enough informed without the news becoming oppressive in our thoughts. You know what I mean, right? Often, a human interest story or science and technology feature will inspire us (sometimes read, distract) to look something up or ask questions. The nine-year-old usually stops Carl at the end before he starts in on his “cringey” puns. G’s words, not mine.
So what do I hope we gain this year from our morning time together? A few things:
1. I hope we recognize ourselves as a single unit, a unified family with many members functioning together. ( 1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
2. I hope that God’s word seeps into all the cracks of their minds and hearts, and stays. I hope that years later they will remember reading passages in times of need. I hope that this daily Bible reading will become so normal, so habitual that they will do it on their own.
3. I hope they learn how to read the Bible well. I hope they will understand that these ancient documents have personal and eternal significance, but that they also have specific genres and settings and immediate audiences.
4. I hope that in engaging with the text of Scripture in a variety of ways, they will develop an appreciation for it. I hope that through its stories they will learn how to empathize with the characters in it. I hope they grow their biblical imaginations and that it leads them into more profound lives of faith.
5. I hope that by maintaining an awareness of the world,we can maintain a worldview that confirms God’s sovereignty in all things while recognizing our partnership with him as his people. I hope that they love the world.
Next year may look different. We may not include as many things in our time together. My guys may be sick of watching videos. It is difficult to rally 2 teenaged boys out of bed at similar times. But our priorities will always be the same.
Home schoolers, how do you start your mornings? What is your favorite thing you do together?
Other schoolers, how do you develop routines in your family? What has been the most beneficial habit that has stuck?