This year, I brought back the old idea of "circle time" borrowing from the earliest days of my career that began with teaching preschool. Of course this is different at older ages, while we come together for a simple gathering time before we start into our academics. I allow a sharing time and find this is not only profitable for language skills and catching up, but with also cutting chatter that can delay the transition of our subjects. We may share a journal entry, narrate a book that one is reading, share a verse, quote or experience. Some days, artwork will come out or music and I smile to myself as it appears a bit like "show and tell". I tend to share with the girls as well so it is a even exchange and pleasant for us. Next, we survey the weeks goals, determine if we are meeting them and make necessary changes. This time is informal yet helps us realize some of our progress and our desires. So we are often problem solving and reaching for ways to keep learning cooperatively throughout our day. It has lead me to the realization that we are integrating some Quakerly ways in this sharing and by the addition of a bit of silent time/prayer prior to lunch which we began about 3 years ago. In the evening, my husband chooses to pray aloud at dinner, which had been our practice for years so the children are experiencing both.
For other Quaker home educators, a good friend alerted me to a wonderful website for children entitled KidsQuake, an outreach of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. It offers stories, history, a "Walk Gently" poster we hung in the schoolroom this month and interactive activities. Currently we are going over their Quaker Testimonies & Queries for Kids based on SPICES, which stands for simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship. It’s a great resource to check out. Another site I have found helpful for resources is http://www.quakerbooks.org/ which is The Friend’s General Conference and through it we have been introduced to the Growing in the Light series which is really simple but outstanding an introduction for children to prepare for Meeting for Worship when not familiar. There is a large selection of children’s books for all ages and our favorite read aloud lately from that site has been Standing in the Light from the Dear America Series. Although it’s a historical novel, I think it an excellent portrayal of 18th Century life of a Quaker girl and is aimed at a reading level of age 8-13 I’d say. There are reproductions and drawings which are quite accurate in the conclusion.
The photos are from our circle time last week as the girls often like to review their art history scrapbook. I had picked up the scrapbook years ago and it is made from recycled pressed paper with real leaves which makes it more of a treasure to me. It’s a bit hard to see but we mount small reproductions from Meet the Masters or post cards from the National Art Gallery and then they write about what they see and facts on each artist, much like a simple picture study. We had not done this for 2 years, so are getting back to some activities we loved and found it to be nice glimpse back in time as we could see improvement in handwriting skills through the years. We also found evidence of my son's participation in some of his earliest years which was great fun for his sisters now that he is a senior.