Our Homeschool Year: Circle Time (aka Morning Time)

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So I’m finally ready to share our homeschool plans for next year. It’s only a few weeks before we start! I’m not quite ready this year. :)

This year we have an 11-year-old boy, 9-year-old boy, 6 1/2-year-old girl, 4 1/2-year-old boy, and almost-2-year-old girl.

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The blocks in our homeschool week

Circle Time

aka Morning Time, Memory Work Time, Recitation

(daily)

Logistics

I’m messing with our morning pattern this year. Last time I tried this it didn’t work, but I’m still going to give it a shot again. If it doesn’t fly, we’ll just go back to our typical pattern and it’s not that big a deal.

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  • breakfast & chores (with classical music playing)

—> when finished, pull out Bible and Circle Time stuff and read at table while waiting for us all to gather

  • Circle Time

—> after it’s over, put Circle Time binders away and pull out math sheets.

Circle Time Agenda

The primary reason I want to move Circle Time to the first item on our list is that I want to be more consistent with doing a little daily agenda-setting with the kids for the day. I’m going to be working more on time management with the older two, mostly because it’s my hobby and something I can share with them. It is more that they have an aptitude for it, a potential that I see, rather than that I see a deficiency. As I’m working on my own habits in this regard, it makes sense to share that with them and bring them along for the ride.

Also, one resolve I did make after reading Desiring the Kingdom was to be more purposeful and conscious of the liturgies I set during our day. I don’t want our starting liturgy to consist of frantic herding and sharp order-barking.

So, the plan for the flow of Circle Time is
  • Ring the bell at 8 (or set a timer on my iPod for 8 that will chime) for everyone to gather if they aren’t already there.

  • Agenda. Talk about each person’s agenda for the day and give a quick pointer for making it through possible rough patches.

  • Pray. I start & each child prays, going around the table.

  • Call. I say “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” and the children respond, “And also with you.”

  • Start binder recitation. This will start with reciting the Apostles’ or Nicene together, then comes our term’s new hymn, then it will move into Scripture memory. I’ve placed a hymn in the middle and at the end. And each child (and myself!) also has a poem to recite daily.

  • Closing. After the last hymn, we all say “Amen.” Then I read a benediction verse such as “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.” To which the children respond with “Amen.” And then we all get up, put our binders back on the shelf (in the same room), and move on to the next thing.

Circle Time Content

Our Circle Time is primarily memory work. It’s our warm-up together for the day, starting by speaking (or singing) 40ish minutes of truth out loud. Read alouds come at different points in our day, and they don’t happen at the table like Circle Time does. It’s all interactive and not at all passive, I even let the younger set get up from their chairs to “dance” during the singing. I wouldn’t be able to wrangle all 5 kids to be quiet and passive enough to read aloud for that amount of time, so I keep it to 40ish minutes (planned for an hour-long block) and we only do our singing, memory work, and poetry during this time.

We sing hymns that we often sing in church so that the non-readers are better able to participate. We learn Scripture that I’ve made notes on to myself would be good to memorize. We each recite one poem per day (myself on down to the four-year-old); the 9-year-old and 11-year-old selected their own poems this year. We learn some catechism (The Catechism for Young Children and selections from the Heidelberg).

Now, we also do things a bit differently because I use that term “memorize” a lot more loosely than a typical classical educator. I think that deserves a post all its own (again), but suffice it here to say that all we do is read aloud together each of the day’s selections in our binders, and after six weeks of daily repeating, they are at least very familiar if not word-perfect and memorized by rote. During the break week between our six week terms, the content changes regardless of how we did with it. If we know it perfectly at 4 weeks, we keep at it another 2 even so. If it’s nowhere near memorized, it still gets swapped out. It’s very uncouth and perhaps scandalous, but it has been a key factor in eliminating stress from Circle Time (which previously was a hotbed for frustration born of unmet expectations). I am, perhaps, taking too far Cindy’s admonition to not despise “little drops of water, little grains of sand.” After all, Scripture reading and memorizing is something none of us will ever stop doing, so this is more about building habits and growing in abilities and affections; I want Scripture to be in our heads and hearts for the Spirit to work with when we need it. So I think this sometimes glacially slow process will work us over well over the long haul, but it doesn’t leave much to show in the short term. It’s ok that way, really.

Plan Your Year

If you need more help planning your own year, check out Pam’s new homeschool planning package!

I not only helped edit it, so I can guarantee this is good content and right in line with how I do things as well, but I also had the privilege of being interviewed about how to make it easier and simpler to put our plans into action! That interview and more is part of Plan Your Year. Check it out!

6 Responses

  1. Mystie, this is so practical. I wish I had this kind of information when I was a homeschooling mom :)

  2. thegirlwhopaintedtrees
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    I love the way you “memorize”. It is very freeing from stress. Going to aim for that way of memorizing this year for our “memory work”. Thank you.

  3. Circle Time | Little Bears
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    […] to get you going, if you’re interested, you might like to read Mystie’s post, which refers back to Cindy Rollins fantastic website and series which is dedicated to the concept […]

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