Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Circle Time {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

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I was once a preschool teacher. I rocked at Circle Time. Fast forward a few years, and I'm homeschooling a first grader. We squeezed schoolwork in around her little brother's naps. Fast forward a few more years, and I'm juggling three kids, three separate curriculum plans, and three completely different schedules. None of the schedules include Circle Time.

Circle Time Book Logo photo CircleTimeLogo_zps63dd95c9.jpgWhen I read the description of Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day from Preschoolers and Peace, I was intrigued. Perhaps instead of having three children doing homeschool in their own individual circles, I could have at least part of our day shared in one larger, family circle.

Throughout the Circle Time book, I was encouraged to make Circle Time work for our particular family and not to try to copy another homeschoolers version of circle. The first change we made was to rename Circle Time to Square Time. My mathematically inclined (and very literal) high schooler told me that there was no way to make a circle out of four people in our group.

I read several helpful tips about Circle Time in the book, and noticed that many homeschoolers start their day with Circle Time. Our family wakes up on a rather staggered schedule and we all start working on schoolwork at various times. I wasn't interested in throwing out our schedule that seems to work fairly well, so I decided that our Square Time will take place during and right after lunch.

I also realized that it just won't work to have us do the bulk of our schoolwork as part of our circle. We don't have a lot of overlapping topics with one highschooler studying church history this year, one middle schooler studying American history, and a second grader working on the three R's. Our Square Time will be shorter than some of the suggested schedules I read, but it will include some of the extra learning activities that we can work on as a family.

Thankfully, Circle Time never made me feel like I had to follow a set of specific guidelines. The idea is to take either what we're already doing or what we'd like to do and see if it makes sense to do it as part of a Circle Time that includes all of our children.

Each spring, the youth at our church compete at our Leadership Training for Christ convention. One big LTC event that we can work on is Bible Bowl. The questions cover thirty Bible chapters, and we learned last year that many of the questions were asking for which word had been left out of a specific verse. We will be reading this year's chapters aloud so that my kids will be able to identify which word sounds correct. Lauren is still a year too young to compete in LTC, but there's certainly no harm in having her tag-along as we study scripture.

When the Circle Time book mentioned read-alouds, I remembered the books we used to read about missionaries when Addison and Brennan were younger. They remember a little bit about George Muller, Gladys Aylward, and others, but Lauren hasn't ever heard of them. The first book we've started is Missionary Stories with the Millers, and I can't wait to dig into more of the others that we've collected over the years.

My kids don't do a lot of subjects together and rarely work together in the same room, but our lunchtime square will bring us all together to connect at least once during the day.

Many of the ideas about what to include when planning your own Circle Time are included in the Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day book. There are even printable checklists of possible subjects to cover, facts to memorize, or life skills to practice. On the Preschoolers and Peace website, the author shares many of her favorite ideas and resources. I enjoyed the way Circle Time showed me enough different approaches to circle time that I could feel confident in tweaking the concept to fit our family's needs.

Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day is available as a 33 page ebook (pdf format) that costs $4.99.


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1 comment:

  1. "Square time" LOL! Your Bible Bowl sounds interesting, too.



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