Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Circle time

Now that summer is officially here (read:  above 30 degree days, sweltering nights, sunburns, swimming pools), it seems as though we've been as busy as ever.  Whether it be sharing a meal with friends in the park, scrambling to keep our garden well-watered, or doing our best to help family affected by flooding, we've been going from sun rise to sun set and rarely seem to be at home.  Or rather, it seems that the chairs around our kitchen table have been oddly vacant. 

We have had a few moments, however, where I've had an opportunity to start in on my summer reading list.  The first books I've started in on relate to the Waldorf philosophy (Understanding Waldorf Education, Waldorf Schools: Kindergarten and Early Grades).  Despite the fact that I think I have a basic understanding of the Waldorf philosophy, I feel like I have no clue as to how to put it into practical application, especially for the older grades.  I know there are curriculum packages out there that could help, but I am reluctant to make such a large purchase knowing that we would likely only take bits and pieces of it to actually use.  So deeper I dive and the more I research to get my head around how it all works and what a typical day would look like.

One thing we did last year (for about a week) was our version of a circle time.  I remember hauling a pumpkin upstairs and using it as a prop for a story I shared.  And then later on that week it felt like it took a lot of effort to get everyone to the same place at the same time in the morning.  By the time everyone was together and seated I lost any sense of organization and it wasn't this magical, grounding way to start the day I'd imagined.  Shortly after, circle time fell apart.

I started thinking about how to bring circle time back after my last stint of research.  And then it hit me...perhaps circle time can be a little different than how I had originally envisioned it.  Perhaps not all of the children are present for circle time, although all would be welcome if they chose to attend.  Perhaps the type of circle time that I feel comfortable leading is one that meshes well with my youngest two children.  A circle time where we sing and dance and tell stories or share poems with props.  This way, my littlest one gets a wee bit of time focused her way before I start formal school work with the older children.  We get to move our bodies a bit before settling down to the morning's work.  We all receive a message to reflect upon before we jump into the rest of the day.

And then I thought about what my oldest might be up to if he chooses not to join circle time.  And I realized it could be entirely up to him.  He could start on the self-directed portion of his school work.  He could choose to spend the time working on projects that are meaningful to him.  He could read or draw during circle time and then spend time with his littlest sister.  Or maybe I could take the guesswork out of it and we could sit down so he could tell me what he would like his mornings to look like. 

Whatever ends up happening as we move forward, I'm very grateful for the space summer is presenting to us so we can explore possibilities to make our homeschooling experience even more enriching and enjoyable.

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