Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review of Circle Time

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Just the name of this company compels you to check it out, right? Preschoolers and Peace has got to be one of the best names ever, if only because it sounds so completely oxymoronic! Now, perhaps some of you experienced some peaceful days with your preschoolers, but mine were...not. Compared to many homeschooling and Catholic families out there, I don't have very many kids, but at one point, I did have 4 under 4 (actually 4 under 3.5). Peace is not the word for it. However, I am always willing to learn, and although I am past the "little ones underfoot" stage, it often feels like my children are still toddlers. Hence, I was quite happy to review Kendra Fletcher's Circle Time, a 33 page PDF designed to help you bring your homeschooling family together regardless of their ages or curriculum.

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Circle Time may be short, but it is packed with great ideas. First of all, don't let the name fool you. This book is not just for moms of littles. The premise of Circle Time is just as applicable to older kids. Essentially, Circle Time is the time you spend together as a homeschooling family. How and when you do it are up to you, as is what you do once you are there. In other words, Circle Time is as individual as each family.

Chances are, you are already doing some form of Circle Time now, even if you don't know it. Maybe all you do is start the day off together in prayer. That's a great start! There is so much more you can do, though, and the more you do together as a family, the easier the school day becomes. In fact, speaking from personal experience, there are days when our Circle Time, which I have always called "Group Subjects" is all we have gotten done. We do enough during that time, though, that I don't feel too bad if that is all we do. When you have the group time built in to your school day, you kind of automatically "do school", even when it is not as easy (like when one or more children are ill).

In her book, Kendra offers many ideas for how to make Circle Time work for your family. She answers readers' questions about their own situations and provides solutions to perceived problems. She gives readers a glimpse into her own family's Circle Time while at the same time assuring them that their Circle Time doesn't have to look anything like hers. Even better, at the end of the book, Kendra gives her readers lots of ideas for things that they may not have thought of that will work really well for their own Circle Times. Have you ever wanted your children to memorize things? Circle Time is the time to make that happen, and Kendra has lists of things you can have your children work on memorizing together (these lists go way beyond your typical poetry lists!). Maybe there's a subject you would love for your kids to do together, but you think they are too far apart for it to be possible. Kendra has ideas for the subjects that work well in Circle Time. Best of all? She has ideas for how to keep the littles happy during Circle Time!

How We Used Circle Time

As I indicated, it turned out that we were already doing Circle Time, even if I knew it by the name "Group Subjects." Since I started homeschooling 7 years ago, we have always begun the day together. We say our prayers, talk about the Saint of the Day (the saint whose feast day falls on that particular day), do our memory work (a classical Catholic memory program encompassing many subjects), do Bible and history, and then finish with any review products we might be doing as a group. Of course, that schedule has changed a little over time, but the core of it has remained intact.

That is not to say that we have gotten nothing out of Kendra's book! To the contrary, Kendra has forms in her book that have helped me to hone my focus for what I want our Group Subjects time to focus on in the fall. Further, as I indicated above, she has some ideas for things we can memorize that never would have occurred to me. Finally, she has some resources available to her readers that more than justify the very modest $4.99 price of the book. Let me just say that this book is a gift that will keep on giving. I can continue to get new Circle Time/Group Subjects ideas all the time! I love that if I feel that my ideas are a little stale, I have a place to turn to freshen them up!

Circle Time is a quick and easy read that feels like drinking a cup of coffee with a friend. Kendra's tone is perfect and her ideas are spot-on. Again, don't let the title make you feel that this only works for preschoolers - it doesn't. It is for all homeschoolers, and it definitely deserves a place on your virtual bookshelf! Many other Crew members got to try out a Circle Time in their homes, so click on the banner to see what they thought.


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