Sunday, January 10, 2016

Our Circle Time

I have four boys aged seven, five, three and one. At this stage in our homeschool, I divide our circle time into two parts. This helps with the wiggles.

Our first part of circle time comes immediately after breakfast each day. Actually, my boys refer to this part as "Read-and-Sing-and-Pray," which is as good a title as any. 

We read the Bible, usually from SA(7)'s Ambleside Online selection for narration. At the moment (Year 2, Term 2) we are working through Genesis and Matthew. After I read, SA narrates. 

Then we sing the hymn we are working on memorizing. This month, we are learning "Who Would True Valour See" by John Bunyan, mostly because we recently finished reading Pilgrim's Progress. I decided to use the tune Monk's Gate because I heard Maddy Prior sing it on the radio shortly before Christmas. For some reason, I'm having a hard time remembering the second part of the tune. This is not the sort of problem I normally have, being musically inclined. However, we're sticking with it, since SA seems to be doing fine with the tune. I just keep listening to Maddy Prior. I'll get it soon.

We're also learning O Canada, which is our national anthem. SA already knew the first verse, but I'm trying to teach them all the beautiful optional verses as well. 

Our Scripture memory this month is Colossians 3:12-17. I chose this specifically because of the section on forgiveness. One of my children has a hard time forgiving when his brother has offended him (or whacked him on the head, or, or...). For the longest time I didn't know what to do about it. After all, he is the one that was hurt, and that isn't necessarily all fixed when his brother says sorry and tries to give him a hug. But he was consistently showing an unwillingness to forgive. I decided in this case that it might be a first step in the right direction to hide this verse in his heart (and all their hearts). "If one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."

Following this, I always pray with them. In our morning circle time, I always consciously try to model the different elements of prayer (found throughout Scripture) of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. I have found that I need to be intentional about this, or I tend to skip right to the thanksgiving and supplication, perhaps with an occasional confession thrown in. Adoration makes us focus on the character of God and what he has done in history and our own lives. This gives us true reason for confessing our sin and thanking Him. It also gives us hope and confidence that He hears our requests. 

Then, it's chore time and play time until 10:00(ish).

We get together again for the second part of our circle time, which we call Poetry Teatime. We have our drinks and snacks at the table. I set the table with a tablecloth, but other than that I don't usually get too fancy. I have tea, but the boys usually have something else. After the novelty of "tea" time wore off, they figured out that they didn't really love tea all that much after all. We usually haul out several poetry books (Mother Goose, Stevenson, Milne, etc.) and the boys choose from them. We are focusing on Christina Rossetti this term. Ambleside Online has her poetry scheduled for the third term of Year 2, but I decided to go ahead with her this term because she has such beautiful Christmas poetry. We read a lot of that leading up to Christmas.

On Tuesdays we substitute Picture Study for poetry. This term we are studying Tom Thomson, a Canadian artist from the early 1900's. My husband got a calendar for Christmas with twelve of his paintings, and I decided then and there that now was the time for us to study his works.

On Thursdays we do Music Appreciation following the Ambleside Online rotation. This term we will be listening to music by Franz Schubert. We normally sit in front of our TV and watch YouTube videos of live performances, or perhaps of the Music Animation Machine

This is all we're doing right now. It's not a whole lot, but it's enough for four little boys. I want to add in some catechism memory again, but I still need to get my head around that. During the first term, I often read from Pilgrim's Progress during breakfast time. After we finished that, I started reading from Parables of Nature again (SA requested it, mostly because he likes to make sure our AO schedule is followed to the letter.), but I'm afraid I still am really not enjoying it. I am considering dropping it and reading Pilgrim's Progress Part 2: Christiana's Journey instead.

That's what we do for Circle Time! I'd love to hear how you do yours, particularly if you have little ones in the mix.