Morning baskets, for the win! Independent educational play.
Morning routines with four kids under six years old are difficult to navigate, no doubt. We are constantly reevaluating our routine and finding new, exciting ways to keep the kids entertained long enough for us to caffeinate ourselves. It has been a huge blessing to be so laid back and flexible about finding new ways to work with our ever changing family dynamic. For a while it seemed as though every time we found a routine that worked well for our family, I was pregnant again! We’re not pregnant now, so we’re navigating the newness of our current routine with as much grace as possible.
Nothing about our home school journey thus far has been standard. We’ve moved more times than I can count, had numerous changes in family dynamic and honestly, mommy’s been a little scatterbrained with all the changes. I’ve prided myself on my ability to let it go, almost as well as Elsa, and get on with life. That adaptability has honestly saved our home school from peril more than once. Thank the Lord!
Before I dive into our morning basket routine, a true Godsend, I want to share a little glimpse of what our mornings used to look like. Prior to implementing these baskets, our day started with a lot of shouting, a lot of fighting, and almost always, me yelling. I’m not the calm, patient mother I’d like to be and I refuse to pretend that I am. Plenty of other women need to know they aren’t the only ones raging before their morning coffee. Say it with me, “being irritable before my morning coffee is NORMAL!”
So, about these baskets! Zadok, our five year old, is starting kindergarten in the fall. Silly me really thought he’d want the summer to relax before diving full blown into a set curriculum. I was obviously mistaken. Every day this week he’s asked to do school. Thankfully, that adaptability from before comes in pretty handy for situations like this. If you are not yet a Dollar Tree fanatic, I hope to convert you. It’s honestly a gift from above.
One of the handiest sections of our local DT is their plastic bins section. They almost always have exactly what I need for significantly cheaper than big box stores charge. I found three perfect bins in their school section. Even more exciting was that they came in the big kids signature colors, blue, pink and green. I also picked up some playdoh, glue sticks and tape. All in I only spent $10 on this project, everything else I had on hand already!
Something really important to mention is my absolute obsession with printables. If I can print and laminate it to educate my kids, I will. Don’t tempt me with a good time, my laminator is my best friend. Each of the kids morning baskets consist of perfect printable activities for their academic level. Zadok has his word family slider game, Lana has a beginning sounds clip card and Uriah uses a color sorting game. They’ll each get 5-10 minutes out of those activities alone.
The rest of the items in each basket are pretty standard. Zadok and Lana have printed worksheets to practice letter tracing and number finding, Uriah has some worksheets to color showing each letter of the alphabet, of course everyone also has their favorite coloring book. All our worksheets and printable activities either came from Pinterest for free or were made with an online software.
These baskets are lifesaving! While they don’t get much actual learning done, they do get a chance to be hands on with the learning tools we’ll be using in the fall. Hopefully they’ll also learn to play independently, wouldn’t that be a dream? All in all, these baskets are less about learning solid material and more about familiarizing themselves with content. Once we get to our curriculum, they'll have seen the material more than a few times.
As adaptable as we’ve become over the last five and a half years of parenting four kids, we don’t always get it right. Some days are much harder than others, but nine times out of ten we do alright. The kids are thankfully happy to adapt where they need to, which allows us the opportunity to try new techniques in education without their feeling left out or lagging behind. My favorite part of homeschooling is knowing we can switch gears however we need to for each individual child if something isn’t working the way it should be.
There’s a lot of information out there about educating your kids at home. I found myself completely overwhelmed when I got started (way too early I might add.) At the end of the day, this is all about your kids learning at their own pace, in their most comfortable environment and with loads and loads of grace!