Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Circle Time

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 photo CircleTime_zpsf50b8efd.pngHave you ever picked up a book thinking that it might be just the perfect read for someone else -- your child, your husband, your friend -- and found that it was encouragingly convicting for YOU?  That's exactly what happened to me as I read through the pages of Circle Time:  Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day -- an ebook written by my friend Kendra Fletcher at Preschoolers and Peace.

I am definitely all about a plan.  When I read that the Circle Time book would help me plan my day and show me how to make life more abundant at Long Leaf Academy, I was ready to dive in and see what I could do to add a little more fun to the school day at this house AND enjoy my kids more.  Mind you, I no longer have preschoolers, but I have children and Circle Time is perfect for ANY family with children of ANY age.  I have been blessed by reading (and re-reading it) and that blessing is filtering down to my children as we work on improving relationships with each other and with GOD and concentrate on enjoying each other more.

When my big girls were little, I focused quite a bit on making memories and making moments count.  I read books and searched out ideas and incorporated prayer time together into all of our days.  As they grew older and the younger two arrived, my focus changed to a SURVIVAL mode.  {You know what I mean, right?}  I honestly haven't thought about the "what was" and "what is" until I started reading Circle Time.  From her introductory page, Kendra grabbed my heart.  She shared that one of the most important things about her family's Circle Time was that it caused them to be faithful in prayer together every morning.  She uses Circle Time as a gathering time.  It is a time for her family of 8 children to draw in close and come together to focus on the gifts that they have in each other.  It is the very center or heart of their family time where they can seek GOD together.   That sentiment strikes a deep chord with me and I realize that it is exactly what we've been missing.

A book that EVERY homeschooling parent should read, the 33-page Circle Time is available for immediate download in PDF format for only $4.99.  Kendra outlines exactly what Circle Time is (a gathering time to help start the day off on the right foot) and how to go about starting a Circle Time that will most benefit your family.  Each Circle Time will be different for every family but they can all set the tone and stage for your day.  You will want to customize your special family time with prayer, Scripture, songs, and subjects to be explored together.  Kendra gives you recommendations for beginning your Circle Time and shares how to schedule each portion of it.  She explains how much time you will want to spend on each portion of your Circle Time and provides tested time frames depending on the ages of your children (including sample schedules and printable forms to help you plan).

My at-home children are 12, 14, and 17 -- and there's even a 19-year-old off at college -- and I'm finding Circle Time to be a great way to gather us together and begin our school day with hearts and minds focused on grace and mercy.  It just simply makes the rest of the day go smoother when we've started off in prayer, praise, and worship together.  BRING ON THE PEACE.  AND . . . I can also touch on some group learning of things we all just need to know.  It's an awesome opportunity to have a little fun with the rote memory work (yes, middle school and high school students STILL have rote memory work) before we jump into our heavier subjects.  I am reminded to be the cheerleader for my crew and enjoy the opportunity to hang out with them and hear their hearts.
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So, how do you begin a Circle Time of your very own?  First of all, you choose one thing you love doing and you begin there.  Do you love to sing?  Start with a song.  Do you love to read Scripture? Start with your favorite verse.

The second step to a great Circle Time is to just do life together.  Kendra speaks so encouragingly about how her children truly are each other's best friends and she shares that the GRACE of GOD will see you through.  I so needed to hear [read] that reminder.  Each page of Circle Time speaks eloquently to quench my soul.  I appreciate the need to teach children to respect one another and themselves and Kendra shares strategies to demand excellence and get just that.  And that's perfect timing for us as GOD continues to nudge me in the direction of our school motto for this upcoming year:  Be EXCELLENTLY Prepared.  I desire for my children to lead lives of excellence and we will be focusing on that this year.  No excuses.  Be prepared.  Do everything with excellence.

Here's a glimpse into what our Circle Time looks like:

  • We begin with 
    • Praise and Worship 
    • Prayer Time 
    • Scripture Memory Review (from current Bible Drill pamphlet) and
    • 25 Truths (reviewed earlier this month and using all year)
  • Then we do a lesson each of 
    • Nutrition
    • Astronomy and
    • Spelling
  • We finish by 
    • working the College Planning Notebook weekly activity
    • and having a Daily Personal Reading Time (different from Read Alouds) where each person -- including me -- spends time reading through a character-training book.  We read these all together in the same room before we separate for the day.
As you can tell, our Circle Time is completely customized for our family.  Once we've completed these together activities, we go over the calendar for afternoon activities and then each child is responsible for beginning their daily subject work.  This serves as a time to get us focused on the day ahead and has our hearts in one accord.  I'm loving this together time and happy to once again be focusing on making memories and making moments count.

Circle Time really can be the VERY BEST part of your homeschool day.  Pick up this gem of a book for your family today.  Start YOUR year gathered together in a Circle Time of your own.  You will be so glad you did as you see family relationships changing in a positive way.  Trust me -- Circle Time is a must-have resource for the 2013/2014 school year.

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 I was given the opportunity to read and review Circle Time by Kendra Fletcher over at Preschoolers and Peace as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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