What is Circle Time?

Begin your day with Circle Time and communicate to children that you are glad they are here and ready to learn with you. 

What is Circle Time?

Over the years, Circle Time has served a lot of different purposes within an early childhood setting. Historically, it was the time to teach basic concepts such as letters, numbers, and shapes. This was the primary ‘learning time’ and would follow a routine of the calendar,  weather, basic concepts, song and a story. However, Circle Time has evolved over the years to shift focus away from basic concepts and towards establishing a safe and nurturing social-emotional foundation for the day. The basic concepts are now taught throughout the day in more authentic, hands-on games and experiences. 

No matter if you focus on social and emotional routines or basic concept routines to structure your Circle Time, consistency and sensory are key. 

A few questions to ask yourself in designing your circle time:

  • When will I start my circle time?
  • How long will my circle time be? 
  • How many routine activities will I do within every circle time?
  • What types of activities will I do every day during my circle time?

 For example, here are one teacher’s answers to the questions:

  • When will I start my circle time? 
    • 9:00 am
  • How long will my circle time be? 
    • 15 minutes Consider that a child can participate for about 5 minutes for each year old they are. Plan a 10-minute group time for 2-year-old, 15 min for 3-year-olds and 20 min for 4-year-olds. Additionally, many educators also discovered that multiple shorter group times throughout the day was actually more effective than one big long circle time.
  • How many routine activities will I plan to do during circle time? 
    • 5 activities Children can typically only sit and focus on one continuous activity for the amount of minutes that they are old. For example, a 3 year old can sit for about 3 minutes. So be sure to plan about 5 short sensory activities to fill the 15 minutes of circle time.
  • What routine activities will I do every circle time?
    • Welcome: How do you want to say good morning?
    • Weather Song and Chart
    • Calendar Song and Chart
    • Daily Topic Discussion
    • Community Activity or Fingerplay

Consistency is Key

Once you have your plan, remember to begin your group time at the same time every day. Use a song to call children to the rug or table where you will gather. Using the same song and going to the same place every day, helps the child be comfortable and know he belongs.

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