by Kendra Fletcher, from Preschoolers and Peace.
Curious because whilst the general concept seemed helpful, my older children had been subjected to what was called "circle time" in school and it certainly hadn't been the best part of the day.
It soon transpired that the circle time talked about in the book was very different from that which my children despised and more a gathering where all the children were taught together. Kendra is a home educating mother of eight and initially started her Circle Time so that she could gather her children together before they formally started the school day. I soon realised that our first session each morning when we read the Bible, pray and learn Scripture together was a sort of "circle time" and had potential to become a longer session taking in more of our learning.
Although I have five children, only three are home educated. These are aged 12, 6 and 4. Kendra's book made me think through the way in which I could increase the learning that the children do together. Realistically, this would mean that we would have a Circle Time which initially involves all three but for a substantial portion, just the younger two. The book gives ideas for what could be included and a printable list with suggestions of what can be included. I found that these were helpful and set to work enlarging our Circle Time.
Our time of reading the Bible, memorisation and prayer was not something that I wanted to change but I added in a chapter from a missionary story. My 12 year old then left to do his other work but the younger two had a time together with me. We went over the date as this seemed to be causing some difficulty,
sang a verse of a hymn that we had sung in church, went over the names of the Tudor and early Stuart monarchs, looked at some art cards
and read a story. This has worked really well. The children seemed to have much more idea about the date. The monarchs seemed quite easy to learn, at least for the six year old. We changed the hymn verse weekly to familiarise the children with more of the hymns we sing. They have been found singing these on their own.
After the summer, I am hoping to add more into our Circle Time, probably a poem to learn and possibly some work on astronomy whilst keeping most of the other components in place.
In view of our previous experiences, we don't call the session Circle Time. In fact, it doesn't really have a name. One of the great things about this book is its flexibility; it deals with calling the session by a different name, different numbers and ages of people in the session and how to manage very young children during Circle Time as well as very different length sessions.
Yes, this dealt with something that we had done before but has given me ideas about how to enrich and extend this. It is a helpful read especially for newer home educators.
Circle Time: Plan for the best part of your school day is a 32 page e-book in PDF format costing $4.99 (£3.28).