Our family has enjoyed morning time as a way to connect over the last couple of years. When I first thought of morning time, I saw it as a way to get my little kids engaged in learning. As our kids have grown older, our time hasn't diminished, it's just gotten better. It can be tricky to keep your teens engaged in morning time if your time together doesn't grow with them. Here are some ideas for keeping your teens engaged in morning time:
Give Them Meat
If we want our teens to grow up to be thinkers, we have to give them something serious to chew on. Deepening the level of the materials you discuss in morning time can give your teens opportunities to think as adults. Give them meat to chew on that will challenge their thoughts.
- More Than Meets the Eye by Richard Swenson
Richard Swenson, a medical doctor who believes in Intelligent Design, takes each body system and discusses how incredibly fascinating each design is. He uses the concept of "irriducible complexity" to argue against evolution. What I really love about this book is his sense of awe and wonder as he finds joy in God's creative work.
- It Couldn't Just Happen by Lawrence O. Richards
This is a great book for morning time because it breaks down ideas that evolutionists propose and presents evidence against it. I'm not saying that I believe in 100% of Richards' arguments, but he makes a very strong case that gives you and your teens great fodder for conversation and debate. Each chapter is broken down into small sections, making it easy to pause and discuss along the way.
- The Periodic Table: A Visual Guide to the Elements by Paul Parsons
For any student studying the periodic table or chemistry, this book will be a fascinating study of the elements and how they were discovered. Giving students background to the elements, Parsons and Dixon strive to bring the Periodic Table to life in a way that will be engaging and hopefully inspire deeper studies.
- Amazing Dr. Ransom's Bestiary of Adorable Fallacies by Douglas Wilson and N. D. Wilson
This book is both challenging and hilarious. Each fallacy is depicted by an "adorable creature" that turns into some hidious beast when you look closely at it. As you introduce the challenges to clear thinking, your students will have a concrete example of abstract ideas.
- The Fallacy Detective: 38 Lessons on How to Recognize Bad Reasoning by Nathaniel Bluedorn
The Fallacy Detective and it's sequel The Thinking Toolbox by the Bluedorns are excellent books for introducing students to the art of clear thinking. These simple little exercises are quick to read, and provide questions for review and discussion after each lesson.
If you're looking for a easy entry level option for incorporating Logic into your studies, you really couldn't find a better option than these books.
- CNN Student News - Our morning time changes frequently as we move in and out of different topics of study, but one thing has remained a permanant feature in our time together, and that is CNN Student News. They do such a wonderful job of varying the coverage of the news from war to scientific discoveries to weather. Each day is filled with a fascinating glimpse into what's going on in the world. Teens love it!
- Missionary Biographies - Maybe you've read some of the Heroes of History series with your kids, and those are my aboslute favorite missionary biographies. However, sometimes your teen needs to see a grittier side of mission life to really open their eyes to the realities of world missions, and what it means to live for Christ in the toughest of circumstances. The following missionary biographies are some of my favorites, and really challenged my own thinking:
- Christian History Made Easy by Timothy Paul Jones
Another great church history resource that would be great for discussion is this full color resource produced by Rose publishing. Walking through the history of the church with your kids can open up lots of doors for great discussions as the history is filled with inspirational stories as well as unsavory characters. You will all be challenged to think deeper about the decisions the church fathers made, and consider whether they should have or not.
- How Should We Then Live by Francis Schaeffer
Speaking of what should be done, Francis Schaeffer does a brilliant job of bringing together not only the thinking of the church and how it's been shaped over time, but the thinking of the world. He draws insights from the arts that expose the philosophies that shape the thinking of the times. This is a great spine for including younger ones in by incorporating SQUILT music studies, or Famous Artist studies.
- My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers
If you'd like to just add something simple to your morning time, a great devotional like Oswald Chamber's classic My Utmost for His Highest would be a great choice. It offers rich discussion materials as you work to understand the deeper meanings of the Bible together.
- Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard Hendricks
Another great option is to take the time to learn how to study God's word on your own. Living By The Book lays out the tools for Bible study methods. It equips any believer to search for the truths of God's Word on their own.
Let Them Lead
It can be harder to challenge and engage your teens in morning time when they're the oldest. Maybe you'd like to include them in your time, but you have so many littles, that you just can't sit still and talk long about anything deep. A great way to engage your teen would be to let them lead. Give them an opportunity to use what they're learning, express what they know, and love their siblings. Here are some ways they could do this:
- Read an Aesop Fable to their siblings, then lead a discussion about the moral presented
- Read aloud the featured book
- Lead the family's prayer time
- Teach from their studies
Let Them Disagree
One of the most important ways that we can serve our teens in cultivating their critical thinking skills is giving them the opportunity to disagree with us. If they feel they have no voice in your morning time studies, you'll have lost them before you even get started.
Giving them the opportunity and freedom to disagree with what you're talking about doesn't make their thinking less sure, it solidifies it. Just like a boat builder seeks the tree on the top of a hill to cut down to become the main mast of his ship, a student that has practiced standing up for what they believe when pressed will find their thinking matured before they leave the home.
Don't give up on morning time when as your kids grow up. Simply let your morning time grow up with your kids. Your family will be blessed by the fruit of your time together.
How do you keep your teens engaged in morning time?
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.