I had the opportunity to review Circle Time by Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace. Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day! helps families make the most of their precious time together so it is both productive and enjoyable. She offers a variety of helpful strategies to engage your children of all ages and get them involved in Circle Time. Because she is a homeschool mom with children from high schoolers down to preschoolers she shares tips for bringing together all ages!
Although the title “Circle Time” may make you think of younger children, it definitely provides ideas and strategies for all family members. Kendra even mentions that sometimes she wished she had used another term. Ultimately, it is about bringing the family together for opportunities to learn together, pray together, and plan the rest of the day together. It’s a great way to make sure everyone is on the same page and let them know they are welcome to join in the homeschool day and not to be ignored as sometimes this impression could be given to the little ones.
Since our kids are so close together in age we generally do most of our homeschool together. Our oldest two are actually on the same academic level, so they are definitely always together. Whenever I would work with our preschooler the older two always join in. There was still more, though, that I wanted to do together. I didn’t know what, though! So when I first read Circle Time I was thinking well, we already do most of our school together, so what can we change? Luckily, it includes many ideas as well as a “Circle Time Wish List” and “Independent/Group Work” sheet so I could take notes, fill in the bubble next to the ideas/subjects I wanted to cover in Circle Time and more. That activity alone helped me fill in some missing pieces.
There were definitely things we could implement in our Circle Time that we weren’t already doing as well as making sure Circle Time is the FIRST thing we do! Usually, the older two kids and I just gravitate toward the back room (where the school stuff and white board is) when we were all ready to start, and our preschooler did his own thing until we worked with him during our mini-breaks. It seemed fine enough, but we all feel much more fulfilled starting our day all together with singing, worship, prayer, and Bible time. It also gives us a chance as a family to discuss important things like life skills, which is something our children need a little extra help learning due to their special needs. It is also a great time to tell them what to expect for the rest of the day!
At first, our preschooler was reluctant. He still has days that he is. In Circle Time it mentions using it as a time of training for younger children as well. As the mother of special needs children, though, I still sometimes have a hard time finding that fine line between what should be expected and what is unrealistic based on his special needs. He also was still recovering from his surgery when we started, so even activities he usually loves were not appealing to him at all. Because I knew for certain if he has a sensory meltdown it could potentially lead to the other two children reacting negatively and resulting in their own sensory meltdowns (and potentially ruin our entire day) I decided to tread the waters carefully and invite him patiently but not push him. It worked! He may not always finish the work with us, but he does stay in the room with us during Circle Time, and we all enjoy the time together! We have Circle Time before every homeschool day.
Circle Time also shares stories from other moms who have implemented the strategies in different ways. It was really neat to see how the moms do some things the same and some differently. It was nice to see additional tips as well. I also love that Kendra stresses there is no “right” way to do Circle Time, but to find what is right for your family. Circle Time is meant to be a resource to guide you to finding what is right for your family by offering strategies and ideas so you can find what works for your family.
I found the resources and the list to be really helpful. I didn’t personally use the Independent/Group Work list because we don’t have that much to juggle. Plus, because of our children’s young ages almost everything is Group Work. She also shares two Circle Time schedules as well just to give the reader an idea of what their day looks like. Since all of our children are young ours is much less elaborate, but I will definitely be referring to them when they get older! I know they will come in handy since we want to do as much of our homeschooling together as possible!
She also shares helpful hints for getting kids on board and questions and answers from moms like us! Circle Time can be purchased for $4.99 in PDF format.
Other Crew members with children of various age ranges also shared their experiences! Read them by clicking on the banner below!