Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day! - {REVIEW}

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Preschoolers and Peace is really Kendra Fletcher.  Kendra started Preschoolers and Peace after she began doing a workshop on homeschooling older children with younger children.  This was something that she was very familiar with and wanted to help other moms in the same situation.  To read more about Kendra and Preschoolers and Peace, click here.

Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Day is a PDF written by Kendra.  It is approximately 33 pages long and costs $4.99.  You can read it on your computer, Kindle, iPad (or iPod Touch/iPhone).

I have been homeschooling for 6 years.  We started when our oldest son was 5 years old and I had just given birth to our 2nd son.  Things have changed quite a bit with the addition of more children to the school routine.  Jordan is now 6 and entering the 1st grade.  Jonathan is entering 6th grade.  We also have a very early Pre-K son (Josef) and toddler (Cordelia who is 1).

So how in the world do you get children ranging in age from 11 to 1 to participate in school time?  The thought of getting everyone together can be quite intimidating.  But there are ways to manage it.

I received the PDF of Circle Time for review a little over a month ago.  Off it went to the printer.  I wanted something tangible to hold and also be able to highlight and circle things I wanted to try.  Plus there are some printables toward the back of the book that are quite useful.

Circle Time Book Logo photo CircleTimeLogo_zps63dd95c9.jpgKendra starts out by explaining how their Circle Time began.  It was a way to gather all the children together (in a circle of sorts) before they began their day.  They would pray, read the Bible, sing and do their best to set an appropriate tone for the day.  She liked this time because it cause them to be faithful in prayer every morning.  It also helped her communicate to her children that she wanted them there.  Even the littlest ones. 

As I was reading this, I saw a similarity to what we were doing in our own homeschool.  We would have breakfast, then I would gather everyone on the couch.  We would read our daily Proverb (chapter that corresponded with the day of the month), do our Bible school work, memory verses, sing a couple of songs, the 10 Commandments, and pray for our day.  I just didn't call this Circle Time.  But it was very similar to what Kendra was describing in this book.

But Kendra even takes it further by incorporating other subjects.  She uses it for things like poetry memorization, history, nature studies, and letter writing, but you can add what ever you want to your "circle time". 

I was so glad to see that I didn't have to limit my subjects.  I had been just doing the Devotional and Bible History during our morning routine.  You put what you want in your Circle Time.  There is even a wish list printable that can help you determine what all you would like in your time together.

Our morning routine where we start out together takes about 30-45 minutes, but you can make your time together longer or shorter.  Kendra includes 2 sample Circle Time schedules to show how a full one can look and a light schedule can look.  She gives her own estimate for time and even pads it with an extra 15 minutes.  We all know something can come up and throw off the schedule and Kendra makes sure to plan for that.

Planning is key to a successful Circle Time!  Kendra offers many suggestions, tips and creative ideas to help you with your plan.  I loved how she implemented the memory work with an index card box.  She would put scripture, poetry, Presidents, Earth facts and the list goes on!  This had to be one of my favorite creative tip!

Kendra also talks about how to keep your little ones happy.  I have a 1 year old and a 3 year old who just do not sit still for long periods of time.  Kendra talks about the need to be brief for the sake of younger ones.  Ten to fifteen minutes (maximum) is about all a child 3 and under can sit for without getting too fidgety in my experience.  It was so relieving to see her write that in this book!  I didn't have to keep them in my lap the entire time.  But she also gives some advice on how to keep the littler ones occupied.  (you need to get the book to find out.)

Circle Time has been a great help to me in planning for our upcoming year and also keeping our summer school activities going.  The worksheets were really helpful as well.  I am one who needs a plan.  If I don't then things tend to fall apart.  And that makes schooling hectic for us.  I now have a plan for the fall and also will continue our morning routine for the summer. 

If you are looking for something to help you better organize your routine and include all your children then I definitely think that Circle Time: Plan the Best Part of Your Homeschool Day is a great investment for you.  It is easy to read, includes worksheets to help you plan, testimonies from other mothers and Kendra answers some of her most often asked questions.  This is something I plan on keeping with my homeschool planner as we go throughout our year.  A definite asset to my family.


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