Circle Time

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We have been taking some time off from academics over the last few weeks, and just really enjoyed some much needed ‘down’ time as frustrations had been mounting with the very hot weather.

But since we live on the north Cornwall coast, all our usual haunts are at the moment extremely crowded with tourists so, I’m thinking of starting back with lessons while the schools are on holiday.

Avoiding the crowds has always been one of the lovely advantages of home education – when we used to come on holiday down here, we would come in September, when it was a little cooler, and everywhere was a little less jam-packed.

I’m thinking this year of reviving a pattern of study that worked for one of our best years of home education – 3 weeks of lessons followed by 1 week of holiday, all through the year. It sometimes needs tweaking a little, for example, so that the holidays co-incide with the relevant festivals, but on the whole it’s a good arrangement and it works out to 36 weeks which is a standard ‘school’ year. It’s nice because you know that it’s never too long until you can rest, so it gives you something to look forward to, and something to work for. So rather than 3 ‘terms’ or ‘semesters’, you might have 12 mini blocks of study and 12 breaks.

Something else I am planning to use more is ‘Circle Time’. It is something that we have always done to a greater or lesser extent, but I have not made much use of it recently. When the children were young, we always started the day with a prayer, a poem and some music (I had a box of percussion instruments at one time, but that seems to have sadly got lost in our many moves – if anybody would like to donate any kind of instruments to us, they would be very gladly received!) We also used to review memory work (like the days of the week etc.) and talk about the weather during Circle Time as well.

Most recently, we have been having a prayer and a poem every day still, but the music and the memory work has been abandoned. It has certainly been harder to get up any enthusiasm for singing with my strongest singer gone. (He has ‘graduated’ to Sixth Form College)

But I have been doing a lot of reading recently on the Charlotte Mason method, and I am inspired to revive some of the things that we did right at the beginning of our home education adventure, and Circle Time is one of them.

In fact, I didn’t realise that Circle Time was a Charlotte Mason thing at all – for me it was originally inspired by my experience at Infant School. But I am reminded that when I went to school in the early 1970s, British schools were still feeling the positive influence of Charlotte Mason’s reforms. I hasten to add that Circle Time in British schools has evolved into something quite different, so if you want to google Circle Time, you might want to include the word ‘homeschooling’.

But to get you going, if you’re interested, you might like to read Mystie’s post, which refers back to Cindy Rollins fantastic website and series which is dedicated to the concept of Circle Time, although she refers to it as Morning Time, and Morning Meeting. I rather like that, and I particularly like the concept of ordering our days (and that order being as it were a ‘liturgy’), and ordering our affections (hence the name of Cindy’s website, Ordo Amoris, ordering the affections) which of course is a very Charlotte Mason idea, grounded in Classical education and thinking.

I’m not as organised as I’d like to be, but I am planning to start ‘school’ again tomorrow, to gently and slowly get going. We have booked to go on the Christian Home Educators’ Holiday at Cefn Lea in Wales in September, so the 3 week on / 1 week off rule will need to be bent slightly to accommodate that, but hopefully by the time we come back we won’t find it too hard to get back into the swing of things again as we will only have had the 1 week off.

If you use Circle Time or Morning Time, or have any kind of morning order or ‘liturgy’, I would love to hear from you, and next time I will post some information about what we are including in our Circle Time.

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