Large group experiences are wonderful ways for preschoolers to enhance their social skills, build attention span and nurture a sense of community. Children often learn by observing their peers interact and solve problems (Bandura, 1977). And, in mixed-aged classrooms this allows children to practice teamwork and leadership skills.
Young children look forward to large group activities, especially circle time. Circle Time is a fun and engaging way to start each day. Begin with the same song to let the children know it is time to gather on a rug or special corner of your learning environment. Doing this in the same area every day helps the child be comfortable and know he belongs.
READ: Back to School: Why Creating Classroom Community is So Important
Daily Topic Discussion
After the children have gathered, introduce the topic of your day and encourage children to share their ideas about it. Your role during the discussion is to offer the child multiple sensory ways to participate and express their ideas in the discussion.
When you are finished talking about the topic for the day, you can bring focus to the social and emotional learning. A large group game or song will help children develop empathy so they can understand that others may have different thoughts and feelings from their peers.
The Community Challenge activity embedded daily in the Experience Preschool Curriculum program offers a range of community-building activities from fingerplays and collaborative games to songs that insert the child’s name. Below is an example of a Community Challenge from September 2022’s Family & Pets weekly Feelings theme:
Children talk and work together to role play and problem solve as well as build coping and response skills.
In summary, your role during Circle Time is:
- To help each child feel welcome.
- To allow each child to warm up to learning and know they can participate in their own way.
- To help develop social and emotional skills, such as nurturing empathy, through games.