Circle Time

"Circle Time" is the first pillar in our daily home school structure. I got the idea from the Counting Coconuts homeschool blog, and I pretty much copied her daily calendar. The structure of the time, and visibility of it excited me and made me feel capable to pull off this home education thing. :)

My kindergartner should master the concepts of the passage of time during this year. We begin our "Circle Time" by moving the keychain to today's date and having her recite it. We examine the days of the week--the pockets below help show what day just occurred and what is coming up next. We have cute little songs to help memorize the days in order as well as the months of the year.
All 3 kids participate in Circle Time. When I announce it's time, they come running, "Yeah!!!" They love it! Even Bubba, who just turned 2, knows the songs and sings along. Together the 3 of them examine the weather through our back room windows. Then they sit down again. We review listening with all parts of our body, "How do we listen with our ears?...by hearing", "How do we listen with our mouths?...by keeping them quiet" etc. While Kindergartner masters the calendar, Bubba is mastering self-control while I make him sit still and listen--that and learning his colors are my only goal for him. I wanted to make sure that each child had a visible learning goal on the board, so I have the color of the week for Bubba. My goal for my pre-schooler is to master her seasons and shapes. She knows a lot of shapes from puzzles, toys, and Mickey Mouse, but I want to make sure that none have slipped through the cracks, and we are learning their geometrically correct names (i.e. a diamond is a rhombus).
After we've covered the board, I join them in the circle on the floor and we say a daily prayer. I use these great prayers for different character qualities based on a scripture passage. I've got quite a collection as our church nursery has put one in our diaper bag each week for the past 3 years. My goal for prayer time is different for each child's stage of development. For Bubba, again his goal is mainly to sit still, to show reverent posture, and to benefit from hearing the prayers of others which hopefully develops a reverent heart in him. They each take turns praying aloud, and it is so precious. To hear what their hearts are thankful for and to hear how they articulate their requests for character is a window into their soul. This morning was a prayer for "responsibility", and my oldest asked God to help her "do her morning chores joyfully."
After prayer is story time. This is where I shift to the Charlotte Mason style of homeschool, and make use of her great book recommendations. Sometimes our "circle" falls apart as the girls like to cuddle while listening. :) I let Bubba bounce about, as long as his mouth is quiet and ears are listening. I got this advice from other home-school moms of boys--they found that their boys listened just as well when they were moving about as when they were still, but when the focus was on sitting still, the story was constantly distracted by the interruptions to enforce that. Self-control is important, but since he is a young 2, I don't press for too much too soon. After the story, I ask a few questions to see what they comprehended and remembered.
Our entire "Circle Time" lasts about 30 minutes, and then we move to the table for lessons.

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