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    Home Education

    I Love Circle Time

    August 11, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]O[/dropcap]ne of the things I love about school planning is that I am reminded of why we do what we do. Because I plan many months of lessons at a time, I sometimes forget why I planned something, or why we’re doing something. But at the beginning of the year, everything is fresh and full of vision. In fact, I rather think we make school plans so that when the novelty wears off, we still keep the course and direction we intend.

    We know ourselves too well. We know that we are tempted to be lazy, to float on life’s sea instead of putting rudder to ocean and going where we need to go.

    And so we plan.

    Today, I’m putting some of my finishing touches on Circle Time, though part of Circle Time is something I’m planning jointly with a friend, so I won’t have the finished product until we meet again next week. Still, I’m completing my portion.

    And I am reminded, as I plan, why we have Circle Time in the first place, how it is the key to the heart of our school. Without Circle Time, we’d be lost.


    What is Circle Time?

    Every family is different, of course, but for our family, Circle Time is where anything which can be studied jointly … is studied jointly. This means our artist picture study, Bible study, manners study, certain read alouds, memory work, singing of hymns and folk songs, and so on. I make announcements about the week, hand out articles or worksheets to people who need them, and give correction where needed. And, of course, we pray and commit our day to the Lord.

    Circle Time is also where I add in things that just don’t seem to fit anywhere else. If there are areas of study or literary works which strike my fancy throughout the year, I’ll save them up and plan them into our upcoming Circle Time.

    Circle Time is the only part of the day {from 7am-5:30pm} where I regularly and purposely gather all of my children around me at the same time. Other times, I might have the two girls together working on something, or read to my oldest alone, or cuddle with my toddler, but in Circle Time, we are a collective {and how we wish Daddy could join us}.


    Why We Love It

    There were two main websites that gave us the Circle Time idea, and both I highly recommend. The first was Preschoolers and Peace and the second was Ordo Amoris {Cindy calls it “Morning Time” but it’s all the same concept}.While Preschoolers and Peace helped me decide to have a Circle Time at all, I’d say that Ordo Amoris has informed more of the content of what we do, and what we hope to do when we are taller.

    This paragraph from Preschoolers and Peace is the main reason why we have Circle Time:

    One of the most important things about Circle Time is that it causes us to be faithful in prayer together every morning. It is also a time I can gather the littlest ones in close and communicate to them that I want them there, and even if I am busy with the older ones and school, I want them there.

    About her Morning Time, Cindy wrote this:

    Approximately 20 years ago as a result of my early home school adventures and the reading of For the Children’s Sake {Susan Schaeffer Macaulay} followed by The Original Home school Series by Charlotte Mason, I began a morning meeting with my children as a way to incorporate subjects that were important to me but easily lost in the shuffle of conventional schooling.

    Over the years I continued to add to this time so that it eventually made up about 2 hours of our morning. As my older boys graduated and flew away they often returned and encouraged me that the most important things they had learned while growing up had been in MT. MT became our daily family colloquy. In was a way to bring all my educational philosophies to the table. It was a way to incorporate poetic knowledge into the hearts of my children. It was a way to share my faith and even preach a sermon every single day.

    I have talked with a number of moms who feel like they’ve lost contact with their younger children upon beginning homeschooling with the oldest. I finally realized that the only reason this didn’t happen to us was that God allowed me to be introduced me to Circle Time before we really got going on school. It helps that it was fixed in my mind that part of the point of Circle Time is to avoid losing anybody.

    We’ve been doing Circle Time for about three years now. This year will be my first year having all four children present as a child in our home joins Circle Time upon dropping their morning nap, something my babies don’t do until around age 2. Little O. is pretty busy, so we will likely be having Circle Time outside as often as possible, that he might run away when he feels the need {well, after he hears the Scripture reading and joins us for prayer}.

    Why do I love Circle Time? For so many reasons — the simplicity it offers, the opportunity for family discussions, the ability to keep better track of the sheep in my tiny flock. In addition, it seems to relax our family, starting the day off on the right foot almost every time.


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  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts September 16, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    It is excellent because I quoted people who are smarter than me. 🙂

    If you ever post plans or ideas for Circle Time, I’d love to see them! Of course…I read your blog from time to time so maybe I’d catch them. 🙂

    ps. I enjoyed your watercolor tips. Art is a weakness of mine. You made it sound doable again.

  • Reply Pam September 16, 2010 at 1:09 am

    This post on circle time is excellent. I have so much for the middle and older ones to do…that the youngest are sadly bumped out. This is strange because I have so many fun and wonderful things for them (us) to do. I am tweaking my schedule to pull them back in and I find your post. It is something I used to do with all the kids when they were all young. Perfect. Especially the praying together part. I am excited. Thanks!!

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