Cindy Rollins, Morning Time, and Incorporating Poetic Knowledge


I recently read Cindy Rollins’ new book, Mere Motherhood. In one day. Basically, in one sitting. The story of her life (so far) was really enthralling. Her life and my life don’t have all that much in common except for the homeschool and boy-mom aspects (she raised 8 boys and one girl), but it was still very fun – and sometimes scary – to read about her highs and lows.

Rollins is known in homeschool circles as the person who invented “morning time” – or, what we call in our family, “circle time” (because sometimes it happens after noon). She no longer writes at her once-popular blog,, where the concept of morning time was born, but her past posts are archived there, and she occasionally drops some new information on there. Last year, for example, she posted a list of “The Literature of Honor for Little Boys.” It’s quite the list of picture books, and I have incorporated many of her suggestions in our family read aloud time. Rollins now blogs at CiRCE Institute’s web site and hosts the Charlotte Mason themed podcast The Mason Jar.

It’s my understanding that “morning time” became a thing because (1) she did it for years and (2) she blogged about it – and it was well received. I’m not sure when she coined the term or how she introduced it (she swears it was “a thing” before she thought of it), but she first mentioned “morning time” on her blog in September 2008. She described it as a practice she had been doing for 20 years. In 2008 she gave a brief description of morning time:

In [sic] was a way to bring all my educational philosophies to the table. It was a way to incorporate poetic knowledge into the hearts of my children. It was a way to share my faith and even preach a sermon every single day.

After reading Mere Motherhood and then diving into her old blog archives, I feel an even greater conviction to make sure we are doing morning time as often as possible. There are so many ways to incorporate this institution. Rollins described her morning time as a two-hour affair that covered everything from artist and composer study, hymns and folk songs, poetry, Shakespeare, Plutarch, and Bible study to reading aloud from three different books! In our home we have opted to keep “circle time” a lot shorter – due to preschool attention spans – and also so we can preserve time to accomplish separate read aloud books on our Ambleside schedules. We do cover most of the same subjects Rollins described, but many of them are on a loop schedule – meaning we do Shakespeare OR artist study OR composer on a given day, for example.

With A9 (yes, he finally had his much anticipated birthday!) in Year 3, L5 (so close to 6!) in Year 1, and J3 along for the ride, I feel like we’re still getting into a groove with how our mornings play out. We went through a brief time this fall where we tried to do math before our circle time, but it seemed SO HARD to accomplish them both. It turned into math OR circle time, which was not the effect I wanted. We had to switch back to doing circle time first, but I felt conflicted about it until I heard Pam Barnhill’s podcast “Why you shouldn’t start your homeschool day with math.” It sort of released me to follow my instincts, and it gave me a logical argument (which is something this INTP needs!). My kids actually enjoy math. It’s typically not a struggle, but when Barnhill said “Homeschooling is about relationships,” I knew she was right. It was the permission I needed to place circle time before math, both chronologically and in terms of prominence.

So, circle those wagons, kids. After Mommy has coffee and her 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.

Until we meet again in two weeks, be well.

I’m reading:


Moderately challenging books:

Stiff books:



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