May 2014

Circles Build Family Community

A family circle is a way, in which everyone together is respected, and no person is more important than anyone else. Everyone gets a chance to talk without interruption. Family members explain themselves by telling their stories. The circle invites all to express their emotions and spiritual thoughts and reflections.

Central to encouraging dialogue and building family community is creating a space where everyone’s voice is heard.  To ensure this occurs and to consciously practice living in community, check-in, check-up, and/or check-out circles make an incredible difference.

Check-in circles occur at the beginning of the day.  A circle at breakfast or driving in the car uses the format of passing a talking piece around the circle so that each can share their ideas without being interrupted. This sets the tone for the day and alerts the parent and the siblings as to how the family is all doing. In this way, everyone also has had an opportunity to say something, though they have permission to pass. In the circle setting, the family can learn that God cares about all we do. We teach that He will walk with us today.

Topic could include:

Prayer requests can be made.

Quiet time for prayer can be made

Popcorn prayers can be said

Who was the first person you saw when you woke up this morning?

What colour do you feel like today?

If joy were a food, what would it be?

What was the best part of your morning?

Check-up circles occur during discussion on significant topics. Stopping to go around the circle provides space for reviewing.  It is a time of information gathering, summarizing, and posing questions to confirm that everybody is being heard and on board.  It also ensures that those who have been quiet [and often hold deep insights] are offered a space to voice their thoughts.

Topics could include:

• What’s one thing that is surprising you?

• One thing you now understand?

• What’s the hardest thing for you right now?

• I’m wondering …

• I realize …

• I need to know …

• I appreciate how [family member] …

• I can’t concentrate because …

• I am interested because …

• One thing I am doing well is …

• Now I’m ready to …

• One thing I will do to make the decision happen …

Check-out circles occur at the end of the time together allowing for a final response. Confirming, concluding, affirming statements are invited as well as commitments to action one will take as a result of the time together. Around the supper table, take turns asking the question, “How has God blessed you in this day?”

Topics could include:

• I am glad that …

• I learned that …

• I will never forget …

• Thanks to _____ for ….

• I am still confused by …

• A question I am leaving with …

• Something we could do next is …

• For tomorrow I will …

Family circles can become peacemaking circles when two or more people need to make decisions together or have a disagreement. A peacemaking circle need to address a time that resulted in someone being harmed. All members want to work together to make things better. As a result, all will share their difficulties, all will be celebrated and all will learn from each other. (from The Little Book of Circle Processes by Kay Pranis.)

This page can be found at http://kidscorner.reframemedia.com/parents/article/may-2014