From Circle Time To Morning Time All Together

Circle time is something that is fairly well discussed in Waldorf resources; circle time is indeed viewed as the main focal point of the Early Years.  It is a way to help form the fabric of the social cohesiveness of the classroom, mark the seasonal changes and festivals, work together, and develop all twelve senses.  Even in the early grades, the circle time works on the very foundation of learning and is a way to wake up the body, the voice, and the fingers for a day of developing capacities in learning.  Over the years, circle time often morphs into a physical warm-up time for the upper grades, even in the classroom setting.  Many times this includes going for a walk or physical games for these middle school grades.

In the homeschooling realm,  I have often thought about circle time.  Does it always work with just one parent, one child, and the family dog?  Does it work with children who have large age gaps in the family?  What is the purpose and goal of the circle and how can we meet those goals best in the home environment, which is a different thing than developing a social organism of a classroom.

For the early years, I have maintained for years the importance of circle time I think due to the foundational senses developed in movement and word during this time, but that the heart of the home Waldorf kindergarten may actually be practical work.  There are quite a few back posts on this subject.  I have created my own circles for years for the Early Years and early grades and feel circle time can often work for all children under the age of ten.

Lately, though, I have been pondering something else. If circle time is about developing a social cohesiveness, what are we doing to develop the social cohesiveness of the FAMILY.  We are homeschooling and it is still tempting to not combine children in main lesson work as most of the resources on the market, even homeschooling resources, are developed by individual grade (not as combined grades or ages, perhaps with the exception of the work of Master Waldorf Teacher Marsha Johnson).  Also, what happens when circle time or a gathering time morphs into something else as the children grow up. It is easy to start throwing the morning walk out the window because we have more academic work that needs to get done with more children.

In mainstream homeschooling, there is often an idea of a “Morning Basket” or “Morning Time” in which all family members gather for any of the following: family announcements, spiritual direction, read alouds, poetry, art or music history with composers, etc.  It serves as a market to begin the day, and a time in which the smallest to oldest can participate.

So how would this look in a Waldorf Environment?

This past fall, I tried something new. I wasn’t quite a Morning Time altogether in a sense because I did Circle Time separate for our second grader. We did have some verses to do together, but the main thing I did was pick an area in geography (Africa) and we all worked together, ages 8 to adult, on   all kinds of  fun things together, including music and singing, poetry recitation, making maps, reading aloud, drawing, and painting.  It was fun, and I think it could be a great way to work in some blocks that are either harder to work into the year or the areas where you want information to be constantly reviewed and refreshed, and a way to tie everyone together instead of sending the notion that learning is only for separate times and we are all on such different levels we can’t possibly all learn together.

So, some ideas for transitioning from a traditional Waldorf circle time to a wonderful family gathering time could include prayers from your spiritual tradition, family singing and accompanying instruments, poetry recitation,  read alouds, geography, math fun, and more.

I encourage you to think about how a wonderful gathering time, which could include a combination of circle time for younger and older children and a gathering time for older children with little ones participating as able.

I would love to hear what you do in your family!


8 thoughts on “From Circle Time To Morning Time All Together

  1. It’s interesting that you write this, especially about doing art together in the mornings, because I’ve found for years that it works better for my family to do Hands and Heart in the morning and Head (the main lesson) in the afternoon after lunch. I know that people talk about doing the academic work in the morning when kids are fresh, but I feel more refreshed after doing those other kinds of things in the morning… and so do my children. After lunch when the house is quiet and we are feeling less energetic and more contemplative it works well to settle into the MLB. I also find that when we tucked into the MLB right away it tended to take the whole day, morning and afternoon, and THAT was definitely unbalanced!!!

    • Hi Renee! I can totally see that working! I am glad you found what worked for your family. 🙂

  2. I do circle time with my almost five year-old, and my husband joins in on the days he is with us. I think it works just fine for the two of us so long as my energy is up!

    • That is great, Cara! Circle time always works well in our family until about fourth grade, even with just one child and the dog, but for many families it doesn’t seem to work at all depending upon the personality and temperament of the child. I am so glad that you are finding it an enriching family time and a great part of school! Blessings and hugs,Carrie

  3. Thanks for this! Everyone pushes circle time, but it has never been a huge hit here just me and the two boys. Ours now looks like opening chime meditation, a Psalm reading (I have one in Grade 3), some yoga poses, 1-2 verses geared for the little one (K1), a seasonal verse or poem, maybe two, and our closing verse or a song from our faith tradition. It’s short, movement heavy and gets them prepared for listening. I think. Maybe? All I know is, it goes much better than some of the circle things I tried geared more for the very young. And the dog is shut in another room. Haha! No circle time for dog!

    • Hahaha! I hear that! We had a huge dog for years, and she would be right in the middle – not as easy as it sounds! Hahahahaha

  4. Thank you for this Carrie! Yes us homeschoolers have to really understand Waldorf at a deep level to be able to adapt the school Waldorf to the home setting. I really appreciate your thoughts on this. …. that circle time is about family cohesiveness (with movement) – so i see why it worked last week when we all (and the dog) went in the car together to drop off our eldest at school, and then on the way home we stopped off at the dog park where we all had a bit of fresh air and then when we got home were ready to start, and our Border-Collie-with-no-off-button had had his needs met too (else he can totally disrupt our day). And I felt good that our school going child was included in the family cohesiveness (which she needs more than any of us). in that we all went with her to school.

    Also first thing in the morning I often have a lot of household chores to do (start the bread dough / washing – which involves a lot of carrying of buckets of water due to the drought; preparing food for tthe day etc) that these things can then happily be included in “circle time” if we all do them together.

    • Love that, Carol! And yes to wearing the dog out too…our dogs have also been right in the middle of school and some have definitely needed playtime, obstacle courses or walks before school so that can be another fun way to open up the day. Blessings,Carrie

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