Circle time is probably my most favorite time of day. This is the time where I am able to get to know the children the best. The reason for that is because we have conversations during this time. This is how I find out about their fears, if they understood the lesson from the day before and if they are having fun. This is an important part of my routines and transitions because it is the door that leads to our day.
If we have a bad circle time and we are not able to get back on track, the rest of the day could suffer. Circle time is my time to address all the issues that could lead to a melt down later on during the day, remind them of the rules in the classroom and encourage the use of manners.
I love circle time so much I presented on it at the NAFCC conference this year in Atlanta. I wanted to help others know that circle time does not have to be a 45 minute affair with the children sitting and listening. It can be a fun start to the day that encourages participation and a space to tell what they think about what they are learning. It is a time to practice their manners and how to listen to others like they want to be listened too.
One of the most important things to remember about circle time is that you need to tailor it for the children in your program. It is very important that children are able to feel apart of the process of developing a classroom system that works for them. Not just something that works for the teacher. Take for example, the Circle time board I created for my classroom from the Mother Goose Time materials (pictured above), I have changed that every year for the last seven years. Depending on the focus of the children I will adjust where it lands in the classroom. This year I chose a board that can be removed because I wanted to make sure that there were not too many things left on the walls. I wanted to make sure that my classroom is not as bright as it was in prior years so that I could create a calmer environment. As it turns out, this was a good idea. While, I do have days that seem to be filled with hyperness and extra crying, more often than not, the days are calmer and easier to manage.
Circle time is not a time for sitting quietly for us. The very first thing we do is sing and dance. For my afternoon session I have to adjust because they have trouble listening and waiting their turn to speak. So we first play the quiet game. The differences between the days we do not play the quiet game and have our morning dance and the days we do is like night and day. This is just an example of some things I have in my classroom that helps with classroom management.
I have also made sure to take into account the ages of the children in the circle time. This year my mornings has a couple of brand new two year olds or children who have not attended a preschool program before. So what I end up doing for those children is our circle time consists of just the morning dance and a story. They are still able to learn the art of following directions and listening, but it does not require so much time and attention that they begin to lose their composure.
I have so much to say about circle time and why it is an important part of my routine, and maybe I will speak about it in another blog post. If you have any questions about how I do circle time or would like to see an in depth video of how a circle time with various age groups would be run feel free to send me an email!
Live Long and Keep Teaching