Adorable in photos and proven to help young children develop their social and listening skills, “circle time” is a morning-routine staple at most daycares and preschools. Read on for the benefits, and learn how to recreate some similar games and activities at home.
What is Circle Time?
Preschools and early childhood development centers use circle time to help children develop the social and communication skills that will eventually usher them into adulthood. The ritual — usually practiced in the morning — allows kids to solve problems (too much talking, say, or someone being picked on) in a collaborative setting. The whole class participates in circle time, which is led by the teacher.
There are five key skills that emerge during circle time: thinking, listening, looking, speaking, and concentrating. In turn, children learn to show respect, take turns, and work together toward a solved problem or shared vision.
But circle time is about more than just stories and socializing; it usually follows a set structure that encourages everyone to to get involved. The teacher puts into play certain rules; for example, raising hands to speak or allowing children to pass if they don’t want to speak. Kids might also agree to value their peers’ contributions and never put others down. From there, circle time might include musical games, drama activities, or talking and listening exercises.
Benefits of Group Activities for Children
Below are some of the benefits of circle time.
1. Improved Socialization Skills
Circle time gives children the ability to socialize with, learn more about, and relate to their classmates. Nurturing social-emotional development early on is an important part of kindergarten prep and has been shown to help in academic and professional aptitude later on.
2. Established Routines
Like all routines, circle time introduces the concept of time. When kids come to realize that a favorite activity — say, a morning song or “show-and-tell” — will reliably occur every day or week, they begin to learn firsthand why schedules are so valuable.
3. Improved Listening Skills
In forcing children to listen and pay attention as everyone takes turns, circle time cultivates active listening and communication skills and helps elongate tot-size attention spans. Kids also learn to express themselves, begin to overcome their shyness, and — thanks to the use of music and songs — start to develop their natural sense of rhythm.
4. Preparedness for School
Circle time is great for preparing young preschoolers for kindergarten — and potentially even their future careers. Besides instilling in kids the value of patience and routine, circle time can promote an awareness of language and physical and sensory experiences.
Best Circle Time Activities for Preschoolers
Nearly all circle times have the following activities:
- Other fun exercises that promote language or literacy
The best circle times take place in a dedicated space, where every preschooler gets a spot of their own. (Carpet squares can be helpful visual cues.)
Here are some excellent bonus ideas for preschool circle time:
1. Persona Puppets
When there’s a conflict that needs to be resolved, there’s no one more suited to the task than a friendly puppet. Use the puppet to talk, then encourage kids to explore their own feelings.
2. The Handwriting Game
Everyone closes their eyes. The teacher whispers a letter to one child in the circle. Using a finger, that child draws the letter on their neighbor’s hand. The chain continues while everyone’s eyes remain closed, with each child passing along the letter until it gets to the last person, who then verbally announces the “secret” letter.
3. Monthly Birthday Bag
Label 12 brown paper bags, one for each month. Fill them with the names of children who have birthdays that month. At the beginning of the month, pull out the names and let the kids collaboratively decorate the class calendar while celebrating their peers.
The Importance of Circle Time As Part of Toddler Curriculum
Children’s day-to-day environments are vital for their learning, and toddlers thrive on regular opportunities to participate in activities that teach new skills and fine-tune existing ones. That’s why it’s important to integrate circle time into any preschool routine. Vivvi’s teachers help children reach their developmental milestones through carefully curated activities, toys, and books. They’re there to encourage babbling, explore new and familiar words, and promote all forms of expressive language and social skills.