For those of us whose kids have attended (or up until recently were attending) preschool or elementary school, the phrase “morning meeting” will likely sound familiar. Whether you have heard this before or this is the first time, I hope this will be useful as you try to maintain some semblance of structure — strict or loose — at home these days.
What is a morning meeting?
Starting the day with a ritual that gets everyone ready to tackle the tasks of the day is a great tool. Our little ones tend to have morning meeting every day at school before the more formal learning begins, even if it is play-based learning. Some of our children might be having virtual morning meetings now that they are learning from home. But establishing a daily (Monday–Friday) morning meeting that the whole family participates in is going to be useful no matter what, and it can help you get a sense of how everyone is doing at an emotional level, given the current health crisis.
A morning meeting typically looks like people sitting in a circle or at the table and taking turns sharing something with the group. People might share how they’re doing, what they are looking forward to on that particular day, or perhaps answer a specific question posed by that day’s morning meeting leader.
In my home, we rotate who is the leader, although we do not force anyone to lead if they are not comfortable with the role. Sometimes we simply check in, and sometimes we ask and answer a specific question. On Thursdays we do show and tell — another school ritual the kids have enjoyed transferring to the home-based learning experience.
How can the morning meeting help in these uncertain times?
I don’t know about you, but I find it incredibly difficult to pull useful emotional information out of my kids quite often. They, like many adults, think that saying “good,” “OK,” and “fine” is sharing their feelings. But I’m a personal development and self-awareness junkie, so I always try to find new ways to get them to understand how our true emotions are much deeper than those words. It is not an easy feat.
But we are living a very uncertain reality these days with the global COVID-19 pandemic, and whether we want to admit it or not, it has turned all of our worlds upside down. Ignoring that reality is not healthy in the long run, even if your family is one of the fortunate families that have not yet had to face financial or health struggles. So planning ahead for specific open-ended questions to utilize during morning meeting every day can help you get a clearer sense of how everyone, including you, is feeling and what everyone may or may not need.
Additionally, it establishes a level of certainty in an otherwise confusing daily reality. Everyone knows morning meeting will be happening, and everyone knows after morning meeting the day starts, whether there will be schoolwork to do, or playtime, or chores.
What are some questions we can ask during morning meeting?
This might be an easy Google or Pinterest search for you. But I’d love to recommend some questions you can start with. You do not always have to be the one asking the questions, by the way. You can make small pieces of paper, each with a question written in them, and put them in a clear bowl or hat for each day’s leader to pull out and ask everyone else. If your kids cannot read, they can still pull out the piece of paper and one of the adults can read it out loud.
- What is one thing you would love to do today?
- What is one thing you would like to change about this virus situation?
- If you could teach any class in school, what would it be?
- What is something you love about yourself?
- What are three words you can use to describe yourself?
- What has been your favorite day at home so far?
- What do you think life will be like in the future?
A few mom-owned businesses actually sell “table talk” cards that you can use for this or for when everyone is sitting down at the dinner table, for example. One of these is the Mama May I shop, and you can find their table talk deck here (this is not an affiliate link or an ad — just a customer recommendation).
I truly hope you’ll consider giving morning meeting a try! If anything, the kids will say, “We do this at school too!” and get excited about sharing what they are used to doing every day, giving you insight into what they may be missing most.