Plan a Morning Time with Older Kids: 15+ Ideas for the Homeschooling Mom

Morning Time with older kids has been such a fun way to start our homeschool day. Of course, Morning Time has been part of our homeschool long before I even knew to call it Morning Time. We have always gathered together to begin our day with reading, activities, and a variety of learning as a family. I knew Morning Time would continue to work for our family even as we began to shift things a bit to include the teens.

When the kids were little, we included things such as calendar time, stories, and learning to write the date. We loved to read books together and explore a variety of topics, but then one day my oldest asked, “Do I have to be here?”

Oh no! I could tell she was bored. Things were going to have to change and I started to find new things to include in our Morning Time so my older kids would still be engaged.

Now that I have a house full of older kids, Morning Time has changed, but it certainly hasn’t ended. The key has been learning what engaging ideas to include in a Morning Time with older kids.

Morning Basket and Morning Time with Older kids.

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Morning Time with Older Kids

Be Flexible.

One thing I have definitely learned about homeschooling with older kids and teens is that flexibility is key. They have jobs, volunteer opportunities, sports, art, theater, and a social calendar. It’s important to acknowledge their priorities while creating a homeschool routine. Teens and older kids need to be a part of scheduling your morning time so they feel confident that they can also have time for their other priorities in their day.

And remember that your teen can join for the start of your Morning Time and then leave for independent work while you continue learning with the other kids.

There is no one right way or even right time to do Morning Time. That’s right – it doesn’t even have to be Morning!

There was a season in our homeschool when Morning Time actually took place in the afternoon, right after lunch. It worked best that way for about a year because everyone had their own independent activities to accomplish in the morning.

Play around with the schedule and find what works for you!

What to Include in Your Morning Time with Older Kids

Be creative and be flexible as you plan your Morning Time content. Don’t be afraid to change it up and find things that excite your family. If you pick up a book or activity that turns out to be a dud, don’t be afraid to drop it.

Below are some of the activities and ideas that have worked best in my Morning Time with older kids. I don’t include all of them every day, though we always start with CNN 10 (the first item). Don’t be afraid to experiment with the activities and ideas as you find things that work for you. You might include a great non-fiction book for a while and then move on to poetry and a fiction title.

Our typical routine looks like this:

  • SQUILT listening calendar (during months we use it)
  • CNN 10
  • Bible Project
  • Video Learning (a class, a short documentary, etc)
  • Reading Together
  • Activity (if we are doing one)

But every day is a little different. I always make sure we start with things that are most important to me that day. Sometimes we haven’t done art for awhile, so we “start with art” and other times we need to spend extra time reading. I just like to keep in mind a variety of options so we can have a productive morning together.

The general categories below are designed to get you thinking about all of the possibilities when it comes to designing a Morning Time for Teens. They are NOT a list of requirements for every day, every week, or even every family’s Morning Basket.

Learn ideas for Morning Time with older kids and teens.

Current Events with CNN 10

Years ago, I discovered CNN 10, though at the time it was called CNN Student news. It is a show TV broadcast that covers 10 minutes of “down the middle” world news from top stories in the US to stories around the globe.

You can find CNN 10 on their YouTube channel, which makes it so easy to watch if you have a YouTube app on your TV.

After watching for over 4 years now, I feel confident in the ability of this broadcast to report the facts without a lot of opinions woven into the story. I am sure there are alternative views on this topic, but that is certainly something you can discuss with your teens!

The host, Karl Azuz, is likable and has fun with the broadcast. Every week there is a trivia question that introduces one of the stories. In addition, he ends the broadcast with a fun human interest story and a series of puns.

We kick off our Morning Time every day with CNN 10. It signals the start to the day and gives everyone a little time to wake up and engage their brain.

Current event ideas for your Morning Time with older kids and teens.

The Bible Project

A resource that reflects your own religious values is important to include in Morning Time, and that doesn’t end when you have teens. The Bible Project has been a great resource that holds the interest of my teens and younger kids as well.

We began with the Old Testament and worked through every book of the Bible through Revelation. Then we included other series, such as spiritual beings and how to read the bible.

Bible Project during your Morning Time with older kids and teens.

Video Learning

There are so many opportunities for video learning with kids of all ages, though I have particularly enjoyed this with my teens. My little ones needed more opportunities to move, interact, and play while my teens and older kids are content to watch TV in the morning for as long as possible – HA!

I have found several sources for great videos in our morning time, including the two already mentioned above:

Video learning during Morning Time with older kids and teens.

Read Aloud: Fiction

If at all possible, do not stop reading aloud to your teens! It can still be a time of magic and wonder and great discussion – you just need to find the right books.

That said, my oldest asked to be excused from our read-aloud time when she was in high school and I didn’t fight that battle. Her schedule was complicated and it was time for her to break away a bit. Every kid is different and that is okay! Thankfully, my other kids haven’t had the same complications in their teen years yet.

As you select books, don’t discount engaging Young Adult stories that capture their imagination provide great fodder for discussion in addition to the classics and any required reading.

  • YA Novels
    It’s true that sometimes I have to edit the content of a YA novel, but that is the beauty of reading aloud. I can censor any edgy content while enjoying an engaging story with my teens.

    Last year I read The Martian (there is a Young Reader’s Version) to them and we were all enraptured with Mark Watney’s survival skills! I am currently reading Ready Player One out loud, which has required a little content skipping in addition to language editing.
  • The Classics
    Morning Time with your older kids and teens is a great time to read classic literature that isn’t included in their personal reading list or English courses. Tackle books such as Little Women, Frankenstein, or Anne of Green Gables. Throw in a Jane Austen or Charles Dickens novel along the way.

    Sometimes a classic that was hard for a teen to read on their own becomes a great read-aloud opportunity because you can discuss it together.
  • Short Stories
    A short story is perfect for Morning Time with older kids. You can introduce them to the work of famous authors without having to read an entire novel. My kids enjoyed the twisted tale, “The Lady or the Tiger” as well as classics like “The Necklace” and “The Gift of the Magi.” There are plenty of free short stories for older kids online but always preview the content.

    We also enjoyed stories from The Creativity Project: An Awesometastic Story Collection. These were hard to classify in my list because they are a bit like essays and stories and all sorts of things. Children’s authors were given writing prompts and their responses were published. It’s always a fun read!

Don’t forget about Audiobooks! Instead of reading a story to your teens, listening to a story together is a great alternative for everyone!

–> Morning Time Fiction: Teens Books turned into a Movie <–

Reading: Essays

We expect our teens to write essays, but we often forget to read and enjoy essays. Our personal favorites to read over the years have been essays from Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays edited by Rebecca Stern and The Little Norton Reader: 50 essays from the first 50 years. Sometimes I photocopy the essay for them so we can do a little analysis. Other times we simply read and enjoy the essay.

NOTE: I included The Best of Teen Writing 2019 in this section, though it has short stories, poetry, essays, and more! It’s just a great way to discuss writing by other teenagers. (We own 2017).

Read Aloud: Non-Fiction

Morning Time is a great opportunity to read about science, history, and famous people with your older kids. Select options wisely that will work for your entire family, especially if your teen is the oldest child. Essays and short chapter stories will work well for families with multiple ages.

Poetry

Poetry spans the ages and there really isn’t a book too young or too old to enjoy with your teens. You can still bring out books by your favorite children’s poets, though I do find that poetry collections have worked well with my older kids.

My favorite stand-bys are the books: A Poem for Every Day of the Year and A Poem for Every Night of the Year. I NEVER remember to read them every day, but when I do include one of these books, I read the poem for that day. I don’t worry about poems that we skipped when I didn’t read.

Philosophy and Logic

These have been fantastic topics to include in our Morning Time because we can dig into great discussions as a family while learning about one another and important topics. Philosophy for Kids: 40 Fun Questions that Help You Wonder About Everything and The Fallacy Detective are two of the titles we have enjoyed over the years.

NOTE: The teen version of the philosophy book tackles some big and controversial ideas, so make sure everyone in your family is ready for it.

Shakespeare

We’ve been reading Shakespeare’s plays during Morning Time for years. Usually, we read a story version together, and then I pick a few famous scenes to read before we enjoy the play or movie. It’s a simple formula that has continued to work for our family even as the kids enter their teen years because it helps everyone (even adults!) to begin with a story version of Shakespeare!

If you want to memorize Shakespeare during your morning time then I highly recommend the book, “How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.” We have used it in the past to memorize passages of Shakespeare and the method definitely works!

Memory Work

If Memory Work has been a part of your Morning Time, then there is no reason to change it when you have teenagers and older kids. One option you might consider is allowing them to share their own ideas for Memory Work. They could consider:

  • bible passages (or your religious text)
  • famous speeches (or exerts)
  • poetry (Here is a list of 12 poems that kids and adults should know to get you started)
  • a monologue or soliloquy from a play (let them choose from Shakespeare to Broadway)

While there is beauty in memorizing the same thing as a family, there is also beauty in the freedom to select something yourself. Try to find a balance of both for your own family.

Need some help kick-starting a habit of Memory Work in your Morning Time? Pam has you covered with the Ultimate Guide to Memory Work – all the resources and ideas you will need!

Morning Time with older kids and teens taking place outdoors.

Fine Arts During Morning Time with Older Kids

  • Music
    One simple way to expose my teens and older kids to various musicians and genres of music has been through the SQUILT monthly listening calendar. While my older teens have outgrown some of the live lessons, we love the monthly listening calendar. It’s been so easy to incorporate listening to a musical selection at the start (or end) of our Morning Time.
  • Art
    Sometimes I like to set aside Morning Time for a hands-on art activity. We love to break out the chalk pastels or our Mixed Media journals. After years of guided lessons from Nana at Chalk Pastels, my kids are pretty confident with this particular art medium. I noticed the same thing happened after a year with the seasonal mixed media art activities from Masterpiece Society – the kids were doing it on their own.
Mixed Media art in our Morning Time with older kids and teens.

Morning Time with Older Kids

You got this, Mama! Keep looking for resources that will engage your oldest child while still remaining appropriate for your younger kids. It’s a tricky balance to walk for a few years, but it is worth your persistence.

Want to know how we celebrate books in our Morning Time?

I’d love to send you a guide to help you incorporate small celebrations that can have a big impact as you read together during Morning Time. It’s a great way to make memories with your teens.

Morning Time with older kids works to celebrate books.

More Help for Morning Time:

New to Morning Time —> Jessica’s FAQ about Morning Time will help!

More Help for Homeschooling Older Kids:

Morning time with older kids can work!
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1 thought on “Plan a Morning Time with Older Kids: 15+ Ideas for the Homeschooling Mom”

  1. Love all these ideas! I have been in a funk over planning for next year with all of life’s current events weighing on me. This list of ideas was just what I needed to refocus and get to planning. Thanks Mary!

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