I recently was talking to a friend who is in her first year of homeschooling. She has four boys, one who is a toddler and three who are in elementary school. I asked her how it was going and it sounded good, but like there was a lot going on (obviously, with four boys!) I asked her if they were all doing separate studies, she said they were. I advised her to think of any subjects that they could do together.
My children are little, but we start each day out around the breakfast table learning together. This is a pattern that I hope to keep as they grow! We review items from our memory box (Bible verses, poems, definitions, etc.), read a character building story, read our history lesson, sing songs, etc.
This is a great way to start the day. It starts us off immediately and on the same page. It streamlines things by tackling items together and at the same time. The little one gets to learn from the older one, just by observation. I am always amazed when I ask my 4 year old a question and the 2 year old answers it before he does =)
When we are reviewing material, first I ask the little one things that she might know. For example, our first memory verse of the year was Genesis 1:1-2. My 4 year old knew Genesis 1:1 from last year, so verse 2 was the new one for him. When we review that verse, I ask my 2 year old to say Genesis 1:1 and then ask my 4 year old to say both verses together. When we read from our history lessons, I begin by asking my 2 year old basic questions, maybe based off of a picture or something like that. I may ask her to find something red on the page or to tell me if so-and-so was happy or sad in the story. Then I move on to asking my 4 year old age-appropriate questions for him. It's neat because it really is doing life together and watching and helping each other learn and grow.
Many of you have older children, and you might be wondering if this can work for you too. Definitely! The history reading could be just the starting point for individual work that the older child need to work on later in the day. Older children could read aloud essays they have written, or lead the family in a song or devotion. Older children still need to be memorizing things, so add their items to your list (or box, or binder, etc.) and quiz them right along with everyone else. You could share prayer requests with one another and spend some time in prayer. You could perform a science experiment, or demonstrate scientific concepts for your children. Like history, this might be all your younger children need, but it could be a jumping off point for further research or assignments for your older children. A perfect idea for this time is reading quality books aloud and having your children dictate them back to you, starting with the youngest and having each older child build upon what the younger ones have said.
Those are just a few ideas. The beauty of learning together is that you decide exactly what it will be to meet the needs of your family! It may be more work for Mom in the moment (compared to just handing out workbooks to everyone for their individual studies), but it is simpler in the end because you don't have to keep on top of 2 (or 3 or 4 or 10) different programs.
Obviously there are certain subjects that children need to do separately. I would not recommend trying to teach a young one to read during circle time (though you could include phonograms or words to read in your memory box for them), and each child is probably going to have to do their math work independently. But, if your time together could be a unifying starting point for the day, imagine how great that could be for you kids (and you)!
My friend Kendra, from Preschoolers and Peace, has written an ebook on this subject, titled Circle Time. I recently read this and loved it! She is generously giving away one copy of Circle Time to one of you! This is a great book to read if you are interested in starting a time of learning together in your family, or if you are looking for ideas or suggestions to improve what you have already been doing. So, what is in Circle Time?
- Why do Circle Time?
- How long is enough?
- What to include for different ages.
- Expanding Circle Time with older children.
- Sample time schedules
- How to keep the littlest ones happy.
- Questions and Advice from other moms.
- Resource, Activities, and Ideas lists
- Organizational sheets for Mom.
- and more!
Sound good? It is! Enter below to win a copy to read for yourself!
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Happy Learning Together!