The biggest obstacle I face with every homeschool day is the beginning. You know, the transition time from breakfast and morning chores to “school”. When I wake up early (aka before my kids) I can count on my day going well, but having an infant who is still awake most nights makes it difficult to haul my behind out of my soft and comfy bed. I only leave it’s warm embrace when the prospect of staying isolated from my children is more terrifying than my bed is inviting. By this time everyone is begging for breakfast and they’ve made three messes each. I don’t know about you, but when my day starts like this it’s hard to get in to the right mindset for school. My mind is on the pile of legos on the floor, NOT what whether we are studying science or history that day. Apparently Kendra from Preschoolers and Peace
had her own issues gathering her family together for school. Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day is Kendra’s brain child.
Circle Time is an ebook full of helpful stories and suggestions that can help even the most scattered mom organize her day. At $4.99 the book is certainly a deal and contains a lot of useful information like sample circle time schedules, ideas for keeping the little ones happy, common questions from regular homeschool moms, words of wisdom from a veteran homeschooler, and printable forms for you to write out your circle time plan.
I didn’t expect Circle Time to be very helpful considering our educational style, but once I started to apply some of the ideas I was amazed at how well it fit. After four years of being a homeschooling family I have finally settled in to a really good method, we have found our groove, and I am organized as well as I will ever be. My biggest problem is getting the ball rolling each day! Circle Time was helpful for me to organize my thoughts on how to begin each day. For my family the best thing I can do to have a successful school day is get everyone in to the right mind set. After reading Circle Time, setting the tone for the day came so much more naturally.
I put the list of Circle Time things I want to accomplish each day in my day planner. Like anything else, Circle Time can be as simple or complex as you want. I kept it pretty simple, making sure that I hit every daily goal before moving on the deeper subjects. After a few weeks I found that even though things flowed much more smoothly I still had a hard time actually STARTING. I separated the worship portion of Circle Time from the academic and that seemed to make all of the difference in the world! As soon as we are all awake I gather everyone together and we pray, sing songs, work on scripture mastery, and scripture stories. It takes between 10 and fifteen minutes after which we break for chores, breakfast, etc.
Once everyone has been fed and watered we quickly clear the table and begin with our family school (BTW table cloths make for a very quick clearing). This is perfect because everyone is happily digesting their breakfast and still sitting at the table. We begin with vocabulary words (latin, greek, math, science) then move on to a story about character values or etiquette. This routine quickly sets the tone for the rest of the day. With Henry down for a nap, the other four kids will draw/write/quietly play while I read aloud. Once the boys start to get antsy we move it from the table to another room but by then it’s ok because the mood has been set and we are on a roll! Some days we can sit there until lunch, other days we only get through our character lesson before we have to change setting, but thats ok. Using the tips I learned in Circle Time have worked so well that I rearranged my school supplies to accommodate it!
However, to be brutally honest I can’t stand calling it “circle time”. For some reason that term invites the image of 30 five year olds gathered around a calendar reciting the days of the week and months of the year. I also kind of bristle at the term “devotional”. I don’t know why, I just do. So, as silly as it seems, changing the name of “circle time” to “family school” made a difference for me. Silly, I know, but that’s how I roll ;)
Circle Time is very easily customizable to each family and works with all ages of students. Like I said, I needed to separate the family worship (which Spencer has dubbed “family reunion”) from the family school because I found I needed something to bring us together in the mornings right after we all woke up. After we have eaten we can then move on to academics. That pattern won’t work for every family but that is the beauty of Circle Time.
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