*þing is pronounced “thing. Yes, I could just write “thing,” but where’s the fun in that?
This year, we’ve moved away from the “Fine Arts Friday” model to a “Morning Time” model. I’ll post some resources to find out more about the concept at the end of the post, but basically we spend about an hour together reading and singing and memorizing together (and prayer and going over the plan of attack for the day). But since it doesn’t always happen in the morning, we call it the þing to honor my children’s Viking roots.
Ahem. Anyway, our basic schedule is as follows:
Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday: Art study, hymn, folk song, read from the King James Version of the Bible (currently about 10 verses from Proverbs), a smidge of Plutarch (Excellent, free resource here), memory work, and a read aloud. Right now we’re reading My Side of the Mountain, which is a hit with everybody.
Fridays we have Poetry Tea, except that it in no way resembles anything that one might recognize as a tea. We gather haphazardly on the couches, eat whatever food is munchable, share poems, and read some Shakespeare. We’re also going to add composer studies because I’ve been really bad at fitting that in. Really, it’s just the Friday þing with snacks.
Tuesday is still terrible, so the kids mostly grunt while I yell, “Get your shoes on! How do you always lose your shoes? Your backpack! You have to bring your backpack! GO! GO! GO!” Honestly, I should just make a recording of that and put it on a loop starting at about 8:30. We try to have a mini-þing in the afternoon where we at least do some reading, but it’s hit or miss.
When we started this practice, I was really nervous about devoting an entire hour singing and looking at pictures when there is math to be done. Math! But I’ve really come to appreciate the value of our þing. For one thing, I say we educate to pursue virtue and cultivate truth, beauty, and goodness. But when the rubber hits the road, my actions tend to value output: math, grammar sheets, etc. Devoting an hour together, especially one of those precious, productive morning hours, not only shows the kids that these pursuits are to be valued, but it reminds me that education is not check marks in the planning software.
Another benefit is the unity it builds. With four kids at different levels, we are at risk of losing the cohesiveness of homeschooling. The boys still do many of their lessons together, but the girls are mostly on their own path. The þing is the thing we share, and it’s creating a storehouse of shared stories, shared songs, and shared memories. The girls model good narration to the boys, and the boys crack us all up with their creative narrations. While math and grammar and all those other things are good and necessary parts of our education, the heart of our education happens at the þing.
For more information on morning time, check out these resources:
- Here’s a blog post from Pam Barnhill that covers the basics with some helpful linked resources.
- Pam also has a podcast devoted to morning time called Your Morning Basket.
- I first heard about morning time from the Read Aloud Revival podcast and in Sarah Mackenzie’s book Teaching from Rest. This post is adapted from her book.
- A whole series of posts from Cindy Rollins, who also has a podcast on the Circe podcast network called The Mason Jar. I highly recommend it. (Circe has several podcasts that are all addictive and hazardous to your book budget. You’ve been warned.)
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Yes, we’ve also got new music and art, all from Ambleside Online. Our hymn is “He Who Would Valiant Be” by John Bunyan. (Yep, that John Bunyan.) The folk song is a favorite of ours, “My Grandfather’s Clock.” Here’s another version by Johnny Cash. The composer is Franz Schubert and the artist is Jacques-Louis Davis.
Now, I’m off to do our þing!