First of all, head on over to Tara's blog (Too Many Kids In The Bathtub) and read her post called "I LOVE Circle Time!!!". Then, come back here and finish what could have been a very long comment on her blog, if I had not stopped myself. ;)
So, now that you've read her post I've been thinking of doing something similar, but uncertain of how to attain it... keeping in mind I would like for my olders to be "done" with schoolwork by lunch and have free afternoons. Now I do not mean free to do nothing, but rather enjoyable activities that can still stimulate their brains without being tied down to worksheets, etc.. I like David Hazell's (My Father's World) thoughts on children having their afternoons free.
Shortly after beginning homeschooling I heard some mention of Circle Time. I also thought Circle Time sounded "cute" and have tried some version of it a few times. We do enjoy it, but ours has been very unstructured and ends up lasting longer than I think it will. Uh-hem.... Pondering it now I realize it is because we have fun during that time. That is a good thing, so I guess I really need to add a little structure and implement some time guidelines... without eliminating the fun. For us I do think that I could start our day with circle time and let it last as long as possible as long as I feel we are incorporating enough in for the olders to learn..... then, let them move into their independent studies. These are some things I would like to incorporate into our Circle Time:
- Pledges (Currently we sometimes say the US Pledge, but this summer VBS has inspired me to add the Christian Pledge and Bible Pledge.)
- Calendar Time (Month, Day of Week, Date, Year, Special Days and Upcoming Events)
- Praise Song / Prayer Time
- Devotional Reading (We have been using Savannah's MORE Magazine from our church. --published by Lifeway)
- Bible Verse / Memorization
- Storytime / Read aloud (Maybe a simple boardbook, a short story, and a portion of a chapter book. I am considering starting with a Hank The Cowdog book and then, in early Fall start the Little House Series. Also, might do some Five In A Row studies.... testing one out now.)
- I would like to follow with activities in all subject areas including Character training that go along with the reading for the day... much like Five In A Row does.
I would then like for Savannah (3rd grade) to begin her independent work while I begin with Sierra (K). Much of Sierra's can be accomplished during Circle Time I believe. My problem is that Savannah has a difficult time staying on task and focused, especially when working alongside her sister. She also has a hard time transitioning from activities (all) to her independent studies. I think I am going to try a "fresh start" this year. Since it will be our first full year homeschooling (well, we did start back from the beginning of our curriculum and did a full year) or rather our first time to BEGIN THE YEAR homeschooling I think that if I start with being more organized and give her a time schedule maybe we can "nip it in the bud" early on... just get off to a "fresh start".
Thanks Tara for inspiring me to SERIOUSLY reflect on these things. Getting it "written down" via my blog has really made me productively reflect upon what I want our upcoming year to be like. Since we will be doing a year round schedule it is great that I have taken this time now to get this part done. I still have to look through each of their curriculum and decide what I want to eliminate or add or try to merge together, but this part being done is huge!! I am also going to consider adding the eBook by Preschoolers and Peace to my summer reading stack.