Circle time is a big part of many preschool classrooms. Circle time is typically filled with reading stories, singing songs, and other whole group activities such as calendar. But managing a large group of young children comes with many challenges. Here are some of my best tips for a successful circle time in preschool!
Picture Schedules and Circle Time
One trick to get circle time started is to use a picture schedule. Having a picture schedule will give your kids a visual signal that circle time is about to begin. Point to the picture and sing a quick chant or song to let kids know it’s time to begin. If you can get them to look at the picture, sing the song, and clap their hands or move their bodies as you sing it will start your circle time off smoothly.
Attention Spans for Circle Time
Now that you’ve got your kids gathered together for circle time, the tricky part is to hold their attention. You’ll have more success with circle time if you keep it short and sweet to match the children’s attention spans.
The average length of a child’s attention span is usually 3 minutes for every year of age. The more time you spend in circle time, the less likely you’ll be able to hold their attention.
Balanced Circle Time
So now that you have them gathered together and you’re limiting the amount of you spend on it, what do you do during circle time?
Successful circle times are balanced, they alternate between active and passive activities. A balanced circle time might look like this:
· Sing a welcome song
· Talk about who is here and who is absent with an attendance graph.
· Sing a weather song with movement
· Graph the weather
· Read a fun, engaging story
· Transition to center time
If you have more “stuff” to teach there’s nothing wrong with having more than one circle time. Having a closing circle time at the end of the day is highly effective and can help bring closure to your day. You can even add another circle time into the middle of your day to focus on academic skills. The key is to keep your schedule balanced with those active and passive times.
So, there you have it, my secret recipe for a successful circle time!
Vanessa Levin is a passionate advocate for high-quality early childhood education. She is the creator of Pre-K Pages.com and founder of the Teaching Tribe, a membership site where she helps teachers of preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten, teach better, save time, and live more!