I first heard about the concept of memory time when Patricia was little at a homeschool conference. Veritas Press was speaking & they mentioned that they used this period to get a bunch of information into their students in a short period of time every day. Shortly after, I began to read Kendra's blog, Preschoolers and Peace, and she called it "Circle Time." I instantly grabbed on to the idea & we've been doing it ever since!
Our Memory Time happens every morning (minus Sundays) after breakfast. We spend one hour (when we only had a few littles, we only spent a half hour but more littles has meant we've needed a longer time- I think we need more than 1 hour now but I can't seem to fit that into our schedule) gathered around memorizing & reciting various things, as well as doing a short devotional/prayer. (Eric leads our family in family worship in the evenings, so that is our time for a longer, in-depth study & time of prayer.) The children enjoy reciting their Bible & catechisms to Daddy on Sundays. I thought I would share with you what we cover during Memory Time & how I organize it:
WHAT WE COVER DURING MEMORY TIME:
(this is the order we do every day)
- Bible: I always start our memory time with prayer. Of course that varies according to what God lays on my heart but I consistently pray for God's blessing on our day, that He would give us JOY. I also pray for energy, consistency & patience for Mama and that the children would be diligent with their duties, love one another & obey their parents.
After prayer, I either read a portion of God's Word aloud or a small devotional. Currently, we are reading through "Teaching Hearts, Training Minds" by Starr Meade, which contains short devotionals about the Westminster Shorter Catechism. We also use this to sing a few of the catechisms. I've learned that children love, LOVE memorizing with music & chants, so I try to incorporate as much music as possible into our Memory Time.
In addition to our devotional, we just recently re-started doing Veritas Press Bible cards. These cards will take us through the Bible chronlogically & along the way we will memorize a timeline w/ references. After doing our devotional, we spend a few moments memorizing God's Word. We first review our new passage (currently working through the days of creation- we're on day 6!) & then I go around & review 1-2 things with each child.
In addition to reciting Bible verses, we work on some creeds and the "Duggars" character qualities (found here).
- Catechisms: I go around and review a few catechism questions for each child, as well as help them in memorizing their new questions. The children first memorize The Catechism for Young Children and then The Westminster Shorter Catechism. After that, we hope to learn the Heidelberg Catechism and maybe even the Westminster Larger Catechism! :)
- Songs: We begin this section of our Memory Time by singing one hymn or psalm that we have already learned. After that, we work on learning our new songs together before reviewing misc Bible songs, Latin songs and geography songs (we use this). We use this when singing most of our hymns- it's great because it plays each stanza of the hymn without the words.
- Poetry: The best foundation to preparing your children to write poetry, is to have them MEMORIZE as much as possible! I draw from several sources but our primary list comes from Andrew Pudewa's "Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization." We start by listening to the recording of our new poem, the children repeat me & then we review 1-2 poems together. The younger ones also work on learning poems that the older children have already memorized, so I drill them individually.
- Miscellaneous: If time permits, I move on to the section of our Memory Time called "Miscellaneous" because we cover a variety of topics- math (skip counting, money, roman numerals, time, etc), timeline dates, geography, grammar definitions, science definitions, spelling rules from Phonetic Zoo. I never get to everything in this section, so I just pick up where I left the day before.
ORGANIZING MEMORY TIME- HOW:
- My method for all memory is to first listen to the entire passage (or most of it if it is really long)- preferably a recording but sometimes I have to read it. Then I say the new section we are learning line by line, with all of the children repeating me. After that, we review by saying as much as we know together. When a child is reviewing something they've already learned, then he just recites it in it's entirety by himself. Whoever is speaking enjoys standing, which helps to break up sitting for so long.
- I always sit by my computer & use iTunes so we can sing w/ the music or chant w/ any recordings that we have. Like I mentioned above, the children LOVE this & I find they memorize better this way.
- As you can probably tell, we cover A LOT of stuff! The pace is somewhat "fast & furious" but there is JOY. No extra talking though. You must sit still in your chair until your turn to talk. I do not allow mumbling or playing. They usually stand when it is their turn to recite. Lizzie must sit by Mama & Abigail is still in my lap.
ORGANIZING MEMORY TIME- BINDER:
I keep all of our memory work organized in one binder and here is how I do it:
- I have the following sections separated by tabbed dividers: Bible Memory, Children's Catechism, Westminster Catechism, Heidelberg Catechism, Songs, Poetry, Timeline Dates, Misc (which contains skip counting, geography, grammar definitions, science definitions, spelling rules from Phonetic Zoo- I use Post-It TABS to separate each of those)
- After each divider, I have an excel spreadsheet that lists what we are memorizing & then columns w/ each child's names. I place a checked mark (and date for Bible & Poetry memory) when that child has memorized it.
- After each spreadsheet, I print EVERYTHING we memorize (& save it to the computer) so that I can just have my binder handy. I use Post-It ARROWS to keep track of where each child is in reviewing, one color per child (usually write their initials & let that hang over the edge of the paper so I can see it). You can easily move the arrow to what you need to ask the next day. (TIP: don't let little ones get their hands on your binder- they like to move the arrows around! YIKES!)
ONE MORE THING- OUR DAY "OFF":
We typically do formal lessons 4 days a week, with one day "off" for piano lessons, errands & appts. On that "off" day, we change up the pace of our Memory Time. Instead of doing all of the above, we spend a longer time studying the Bible. Currently, we are using Doorpost's Put-On Chart and Homeschool in the Wood's Old Testament Lapbook. We might also make cards & letters for friends or missionaries or spend some time reading aloud. The children enjoy the change of pace and so does Mama. :)
I hope this post gives you some ideas! This is truly my favorite part of the day! We've committed so much to memory through the years. And, later in the day when I come to a certain subject we do not have to spend time reviewing things b/c we already did that at Memory Time. SAVES SO MUCH TIME w/ teaching the children! Plus, the littlest littles learn so quickly from hearing all the review & recitation!!!! And, they are learning to sit still & encourage one another.