I've recently shared how much I enjoy listening to podcasts, and it definitely hasn't been a secret that my favorite homeschool podcaster is Pam Barnhill. She hosts both “Your Morning Basket” and “Homeschool Snapshots” and blogs over at edsnapshots.com. I wanted to hear more about Pam's podcasts and homeschooling, so I asked if she would answer some questions for me – and she agreed!
Morning Time is CRITICAL for our homeschool days. This is where we get the essentials done as a family (prayer, Bible study, hymns, memory work, science, history, and read-alouds) as well as the not-so-essential but hard-to-fit in items (art, projects, etc). Moms, if you haven't considered putting together a time like this, I highly recommend it! Pam has excellent resources to get you started.
Thanks again to Pam for taking the time to answer these questions for me!
Jen: I’ve been so blessed by your podcasts Homeschool Snapshots & Your Morning Basket. How did you come up with the concept?
Pam: Thank you. Homeschool Snapshots came about because so many people love the day in the life posts that homeschool bloggers share. HSP was a way to give even more glimpses into the lives of homeschoolers in their own words. It’s like having a cup of tea with a homeschool friend.
Your Morning Basket was born out of all of the questions that people have about Morning Time. Many homeschoolers want to do it but really don’t know where to begin. With Your Morning Basket we try to break it down into principles and practices to give people a better understanding of the whys and what behind Morning Time.
Jen: Do you mind giving a brief overview of “Morning Time?” What is it, what do you include in it, and why do you do it?
Pam: Quite simply, Morning Time is subjects that the family can do together that emphasize truth, goodness, and beauty in their homeschool. This usually includes some ritual element like prayer or reading Scripture, reading aloud, and recitation or memory work. It is the place to put all of those subjects that you want to do, but often get pushed aside for math or writing. It doesn’t have to be done in the morning or called Morning Time either to be effective. 😉
Jen: Do you still enjoy Morning Time now as much as you did when you started?
Pam: I do. It is less crazy-making than the rest of our school day where it seems that I spend much of my time checking off boxes and juggling the needs of three kids on three different levels. In Morning Time we are moving all together as a team. Even though somebody is usually standing on his head or jumping about, it still seems more peaceful.
Jen: If you could change one thing about your previous years of homeschooling, if anything, what would it be?
Pam: I would worry less about making things fun. I suffered under the illusion that the kids had to like everything we did. And if they didn’t think everything was over the moon then I would never raise a “kid who loves learning.” So we jumped from thing to thing and my entire self-worth was caught up in whether the next fun unit study succeeded or failed. I worked way harder than my kids at homeschooling, and they still complained about having to do school.
I finally woke up and got us on solid, systematic curricula for math and language arts. We do that, Morning Time, and co-op. They still complain, but I work much less and don’t feel smidge of guilt about the “torture” I put them through for a few hours a day.
Jen: Is there a story behind the name of your blog?
Pam: Yes, but not a very good one. When I started the blog in 2008 it was a way for me to share photos of scrapbook pages with my friends in the scrapbooking community. The name was Everyday Snapshots. Over the years the blog morphed into me writing more about homeschooling. When I switched to more of a business model a couple of years ago I was able to secure the Ed Snapshots url. Since ed can be short for education I figured that was easier than trying to change everything to something totally new. I’m all about easy.
Jen: Can you share a few of the reasons you choose to homeschool?
Pam: I taught inner city middle and high school. That pretty much did it right there. Joking (sort of). I really don’t like the high-stakes teach-to-the-test methods that are prevalent in our schools today. I want my kids to have a childhood. Homeschooling helps us give them one.
Jen: How would you describe your method of homeschooling?
Pam: Classical with a dash of Charlotte Mason. We memorize things, we read good books (though I don’t feel like we read enough), we learn Latin. When the kids are older they will learn logic and rhetoric — you can’t go wrong with a skill set like that.
Jen: Are there any favorite interviewees that you would love to have on your show again? What made them favorites?
Pam: Where do I begin? Carole Joy Seid was a personal favorite. She was just lovely. So calm and wise in her advice to moms.
My recent interview with Susan Wise Bauer really surprised me at times. I have always enjoyed Susan as a speaker. Her talks are full of down-to-earth advice, and I love her dry wit. She told me her definition of successful homeschooling in the interview, and her answer was not at all what I expected. It made me like her even more.
I also always love to have my friends on — Brandy Vencel and Mystie Winckler — come and discuss Morning Time with me. They will be back because they are so knowledgeable, and it is just fun to talk to them.
Jen: Are there any homeschool heroes you would love to interview for the first time?
Pam: Can I say Charlotte Mason? I know that is impossible, but if I could pick one person to talk to it would be her. As for actual living people, I would love to chat with Jane Lambert from Five in a Row. We are going to approach them about her being on a future episode.
Jen: Can you tell us about some upcoming projects or podcasts that you’re excited about?
Pam: All of season two of Your Morning Basket. It doesn’t start until January and we have almost the entire second season recorded already. We are just so excited that we can’t help contacting people and doing interviews. We are also working on a listeners’ guide to season one that we hope to release in January.
Jen: I’ve heard it said that we can’t pour into those around us when we are empty. What do you do to keep yourself “full” and refreshed?
Pam: This is really weird for an introvert, but I talk to my friends. I have a set of far away “sisters” and a local set of “sisters.” I see the local ones regularly at co-op, book club, and playdates. I talk to the far ones daily using an app called Voxer. They challenge me, stretch me, provide intelligent conversation, listen to me vent — exactly the things I need to keep my cup full.
Jen: Do you have any tips for moms just starting a morning basket or morning time?
Pam: Start with one thing. Don’t try to begin with a full-blown Morning Time, but start with one small practice. Do it for a week and then add another. Keep going and after a few weeks you will have eased everyone in to a full Morning Time with no stress or burnout.