How to Create a Hands-off, Independent Morning Time

PIN IMAGE with text: How to Create an Independent Hands-Off Morning Time in your Homeschool

With the exception of coloring books, our homeschool morning time is designed to be nearly all audio. (And I’m talking tech, not read-alouds.)

Most homeschool morning times are family-centered, and are traditionally more teacher-intensive. But unlike the communal morning basket with read-alouds, I created this all-audio routine to be completed independently by my daughter, as a launching point for her day. She craves structure, and this set sequence of audio tasks calms her and settles her (and me!) into a great headspace for the day. We used this same routine last year, too, and it worked out so well for us.

While a morning time that’s not also family time might seem odd, the way I see it, we homeschoolers are together with our kids 24/7 — sometimes that even feels like 25/7 or 8. So I’m not too worried about letting go of some together-time for an hour or so in the morning. In fact, it’s been a lifesaver.

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All-Audio Morning Time, Part 1: Bible

The first part of morning time is Bible, comprised entirely of iPad apps which don’t require looking at the screen — just listening. I grouped the apps into a single iPad folder, in the same order they’re to be listened to, so there’s no distraction looking around for the next one in the sequence. This can also be done on an iPhone, or on some WiFi-connected iPod Touches, depending on age and app compatibility. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar enough with Android devices to know if these app developers offer an Android version.

Some of the Bible resources we use contain liturgical elements. If you wish, you can simply use the audio Bible app, and skip the apps with liturgy. But as I previously shared in 100 Essential Tools for Homeschooling Gifted Kids: “Structured worship…is especially meaningful for a routine-dependent, sequential, rigid-thinking child. The orderly format [of liturgy] calms her, and she knows what to expect from day to day. This speaks to her soul in a way that abstract, spontaneous worship would not. I think it’s crucial, especially for an easily-overwhelmed science-minded kiddo, to show that the world of worship can be just as orderly as the world of science.”

  • Mission St. Clare App (FREE)
    • This app allows you to listen to beautiful hymn recordings each day, according to what hymns are listed for that particular day in the Book of Common Prayer. It can be glitchy at times, but when it works, it’s lovely. When the app doesn’t play audio, we listen to a few songs from Ancient Faith Radio instead.
  • Ancient Faith Radio App (FREE)
    • This app offers free streaming Orthodox hymns, in various world languages (English, too.)
  • Mission St. Clare Website (FREE)
    • Providing different content than the Mission St. Clare app, above, the Mission St. Clare website website has a short (approximately 15-minutes) recording of a service at The Episcopal Church in Garrett County, Maryland. Updated daily with a new service.
  • BCP: Daily Office Readings by Logos Creative, LCC (FREE app)
    • This app utilizes the ESV (English Standard Version) and reads aloud from various books of the Bible, according to the Scripture references listed for that particular day in the Book of Common Prayer
  • The Bible App by Life.Church (FREE)
    • Another great resource for listening to audio Bible. My favorite feature? You can set a timer which automatically pauses the audio playback after the timer expires. And there are lots and lot of translations from which to choose.

Drawing / Coloring / Notebooking Resources to Accompany Morning Time

While my daughter listens the audio from these apps, she colors, draws, or notebooks quietly. Here’s what’s on our IKEA Raskog cart

If your kids hate drawing and coloring, you can always swap out the pencils for something like a jigsaw puzzle. In my experience, though, you’ll want a somewhat special hands-on activity that is reserved only for morning time, so the novelty factor stays strong.

All-Audio Morning Time, Part 2: Recitation / Memory Work

After the Bible app portion of morning time is completed, the second part of morning time is designed to double as memory work. Memory work is a foundational component of the grammar, or primary, stage of classical education. And setting recitation assignments to music is such a beautifully painless way to memorize!

At the beginning of the school year, I upload audio CDs to iTunes on my iMac, and use iTunes to select certain tracks from each uploaded CD to create a custom morning time playlist. I then sync this playlist, via iTunes, onto the iPad. (You could also, of course, simply create a playlist on a PC and play it from the PC, rather than transferring it to a tablet.)

My daughter listens to this same morning time playlist each day — and chants or sings along.

The history timeline song stays on the list all school year, since it corresponds with our year-long history curriculum, Veritas Press’ New Testament, Greece and Rome. But as other songs are mastered, I swap them out and update the playlist with new material.

This year, like last year, I’ll be pulling from the following list of audio resources. Since there are so many tracks from which to choose, it takes multiple years to get through all the CDs. And that’s great news for the budget!

(Although some are available via streaming services, I prefer purchasing the CDs or MP3s. This way, I’m able to launch the full morning time playlist in iTunes, without needing to access internet streaming.)

So that’s how we start each school day — with a tech-powered, independent morning time. You can see some of these resources on my Amazon Influencer Storefront, under the Memory Work / Morning Time board.

(An additional note on audio books: we personally haven’t added a chapter a day of an audio book to our morning time routine, because we tend to use audio books during afternoon downtime, while in the car, or while waiting for appointments. But you could absolutely include audiobooks if you wanted. We like the streaming services Hoopla and Overdrive, free with most library cards, for access to audiobooks at no cost. These usually let you download the audiobook fully while you’re on WiFi, so you can then listen from your device, without needing to access the internet. Edited to add: If you live in a rural area / have a small library, scroll down to the comment section to read Jen’s amazing tip about gaining access to these digital services!)

As your kids get older, don’t be afraid to set your kids up to do independent work. Don’t let the homeschool mom guilt get to you. (Audio books aren’t cheating.) More often than not, implementing some hands-off practices in your homeschool will make everyone happier. Plus, it’s a gentle way to begin teaching the importance of independent learning, self-motivation, and diligence.

Here’s to happy, orderly, peaceful mornings!

Questions about creating your own hands-off morning time? Ask away!

There’s also this fantastically helpful Q+A thread, all about the practical, nitty-gritty aspects of implementing an independent morning time like this. The discussion is in my closed Facebook group, so request to join!

(Pictured in this photo: How to Draw almost Everything, a bamboo Otis & Eleanor Bongo Speaker and Prismacolor Pencils.)


15 thoughts on “How to Create a Hands-off, Independent Morning Time”

  1. A tip about Hoopla and Overdrive: if your local library does not provide access (aka you live in a rural area) check out the major public library of the largest city in your state–like Boston Public Library, Free Library of Philadelphia, Connecticut State Library. All of those mentioned (and every state I’ve had the time to check) offers state residents library cards to access their digital services. So my local library does not provide Hoopla, but I can get it through the Free Library of Philadelphia along with many other free digital resources plus a larger Overdrive collection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And some libraries let you subscribe to their library even if you don’t live in the state for a nominal fee. We have memberships to Free Philadelphia and Brooklyn for $50/year. Their databases are far larger than our library and that price can’t be beaten for as many audiobooks as we listen to!


  2. I love this! We are doing our first morning time this year, and it’s pretty mom-intensive, but I imagine doing more independent things once the kids are older. I definitely don’t shy away from getting 30 minutes to myself, haha! Love all these suggestions, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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