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Circle Time - Do You Have This In Your Setting?


Guest terrydoo73
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Guest terrydoo73

We introduced Circle Time at the beginning of our session a week past on Friday purely to try and encourage our children to move into specific areas soon after arrival each day. We had 2 little boys who just wanted to mess about on arrival and ended up playing hide and seek around a couch, running into things and generally knocking things over or else (as we still do have) take part in wrestling each other on the couch.

 

We brought in a Winnie the Pooh bear and we firstly go around the circle saying good morning and hugging Pooh. If the children want to talk a bit more then we listen but usually as they are waiting on others to arrive they have had the opportunity to say all they want. Then we produce an A3 sheet with all the areas listed in picture form and the names of the areas beside them. The children before they go into circle time have lifted their own symbols from a table and as we go around the circle for a second time they put their symbol on the area in which they intend to play.

 

Unfortunately it is not working for these same 2 boys as one just will not settle even after choosing an area and an adult encouraging him to move into that area. He tends to wander about annoying those who are happily about to play in their own areas. The other watches to see what he is up to and follows his lead. We have been able to separate this last boy by an adult reminding him of the area he chose and encouraging him to join them as they are going to that area too.

 

Then we have another child who 2 seconds after going to the area and starts to play says "I'm not playing here any more" and moves off to another area. We would really like to encourage her to play more within the areas as she does tend to do this a lot - I think by the end of the first half hour she has visited every area more than once! We thought it was a case of seeing an adult working in an area and for attention wants to be there too but whilst that might be the case sometimes I don't think it is all the time. She has started this tendency to drag another younger child with her by saying "come on xxx we're finished playing her now lets go somewhere else." We have addressed this by stopping the younger child and asking her "do you want to move on xxx you don't have to go just because xxx told you to, I seen you making ... would you not like to finish it?"

 

Does circle time work from this point of view? I know we introduced it to the whole group and ideally you would like it split in 2 groups (we have 12 in total with only 2 staff) but with people arriving and one having to man door to greet and meet and the other waiting with the rest it is not easy to separate children and have a waiting time which they dislike. I was wondering if there was perhaps something we can do whilst settling the children other than a sharing and talking time?

 

Eventually I would love it to be a time when the children will say "I'm going to play with the blocks and I am going to build a great big tower" or whatever but they don't seem to have that concept yet and I know it is probably too early to be pushing it just yet.

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Personally...I hate circle time and use it as little as possible. At the start of the session I feel it more important for children to settle into their play activities (self chosen). Coming into a setting and then being expected to immediately go and sit down and conform to adult rules immediately would for most of our little ones be not practical...nor very helpfull for children who were distressed etc. Having sat children for "circle time" I would definitely not then expect them to go to any specific area. I personally think children sit for too long in these types of activities and that its more about grown ups controlling their actions (ie not letting them run around) than about what children require.

 

There are many techniques that can be used like boxes of ribbons etc to get children to "conform" at circle time but for the foundation stage is all about moving away from this kind of sterile sitting activity towards a more interactive child centred approach...maybe you little ones just are too little for this?

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All our children tend to go to the mat on arrival where a member of staff takes the register and general chat takes place, some children wander round the room playing or just looking at whats available until its time for register. This is only a short time though because show and tell, strories, singing, beat baby etc are at the end of the session. The staff tell the children what activities are available and then the children are free to go anywhere they want to. If you've got children arriving at different times I might be inclinded to do away with circle time if it means the children sitting for a long time.

Is there any reason why you want the children to choose an area to play in? I personally wouldnt worry about a child who flits about, but I might look again at the activities I'm offering to see If they're reflecting the childrens current interests. It could be that these children just dont know how to play, it sounds like it with the lad who spoils the other childrens play.

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We stopped having a circle time right at the beginning of the morning precisely because there was too much coming and going and some children were having to sit for far too long. I should let the children come in and play with whatever interests them until everyone is in and all parents are gone and then you could gather them all together and have a circle time if that's what you want to do.

 

You could then draw their attention to the visual timetable if you have one and show the different activities available. (we were told to do this but personally, I don't feel like interrupting their play as usually the children are great at getting on with things themselves - if some newer children were unsure of what to do, we could show them the pictures on a more 1:1 basis)

 

Jo

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high scope vid

 

There are a couple of 'planning time' videos from High scope which sound something like what you are aiming at...these may be useful.

 

Just a thought though...is it making it harder for you doing this at all especially if one staff member has to keep all the children together while the other welcomes...I mean, in my experience, children do settle best when they just come in and get on with things...we tried a similar welcome circle when children were arriving but it really didnt work...we were holding children back from what they wanted to do and so they werent really engaging at all. It was just a 'chore' they had to get through before they could do what they wanted.

 

Its a shame you cant have access to outside straight away - but with only two staff I can see this probably wouldnt be possible.

Maybe setting up something more 'physical' indoors so they can rough and tumble??

 

Do parents come in and spend some time settling children? Maybe you could have a planning board along the same lines of self registration...so children can choose and record with parents what they might do and then parents spend a little time with the child starting them off...

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We do have a short circle time but not immediately on arrival. On arrival children are free to choose what they would like to do and it is a little later we all come together for a 'good morning' circle.

 

Sorry but I think choosing pictures and sticking them somewhere is a little tricky for some young children. Do they really understand that by picking a play dough picture that means that is what they are going to do? Maybe they just choose the picture that appeals to them and then when they 'go' to the supposedly chosen activity something else seems more inviting.

 

I wouldn't worry about a child who flits either, unless it continues in the long term and they never experience any meaningful play but it's a bit like the proverbial 'child in a sweet shop' just spoilt for choice and want to experiment with all on offer, I dont see anyting wrong in that.

 

Generally i find that or children are 'full of beans' on arrival and it's just the wrong time to expect them to sit around the circle. Perahps this is the case with the two little chaps who just wanted to run around the sofa?

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We stopped doing circle time because we were finding it a nightmare with all the comings and goings, preparing the equipment for snack etc. We found that we were attempting to engage the children in activities which they had no interest in, so now, the children come in and free play for about 30-40 minutes and then they are given a 3 minute warning that we are going to have "carpet time". Carpet time is essentially all the children and adults sitting down, singing our "hello" song and going through the visual timeline.

 

Sometimes we might extend it a bit, fpr example, we recently had a revamp of the room and the children have taken to pulling pictures, signs and displays down from the walls when they are at their level. As a whole staff team, we spent a lot of time making resources to display for the children, and a long time finding suitable places to display them and it is most annoying when the children are just wrecking it all. So we remind them about looking after nursery and keeping things nice for everyone. One of our golden rules is that we respect and take pride in our pre-school so we show them the visual clue for the rule and explain to them that wrecking stuff isn't a kind thing to do.

 

We have similiar issues to you in that we have a group of 4 or 5 boys that have a tendency to run around the room, jumping on each other or hiding in the book corner, or running around the room with the wheeled toys attempting to crash into each other. So now, we have introduced small groups who go into another smaller room and work on something specific, for example, working on the computer or completing a game or puzzle with an adult. We have worked the groups out so that these boys are split up as much as possible in an effort to engage them in something more purposeful than running riot in the room and disrupting everyone else. It seems to be working well at the moment, although some staff need guidance in organising purposeful quiet activities (my job for the holidays!).

 

Circle time for us was difficult because our children come in at all different times. We have one particular child who does full days on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but always completely misses the morning session and arrives just before lunch. Sometimes if her parent has managed to get her away from the TV, she will come in an hour later... She therefore was missing the circle time activities which tended to have a speaking and listening focus. In addition, we can have anything between 25 and 29 children each session so would obviously have to split up the groups but we were then finding that we were running out of space to have all of these smaller groups.

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We don't do circle time at the moment...

 

When we had a maximum of 20 children in a session, we started the session with all the children coming to sing the weather board song, move the cards onto the weather board to show what the weather was like, do a quick summary of what we were doing that day, have a different child each day choose a resource to have out, then send the children off 4 at a time to go to play - so would chose to send Johnny in a different group from Jack who he clashed with, or Jessie in the same group as Josie as they needed the confidence from each other.

 

Should have taken no more than 5 minutes from start to finish, but we had staff who weren't confident to start it with the parents still in the building so tried waiting till they'd all gone, so some of the children were sitting for 10 minutes before it even started!

 

Now we're up to 28 children who come in in stages, I can't imagine starting the session with weather board time, though I do want to having a time when we can sit with the children and say what we've got planned for the day, find out what they want to do & facilitate that; then come back ant the end of the session to find out how it went... So I'll be watching this thread with interest! I'm thinking of key person groups as it will help build the key person/child relationships too.

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We have circle time at the end of the session at 11.30 - starting with an active letters and sounds activity or beat baby etc followed by storytime.

 

Children self-register in the morning and choose anything they want to play with including an adult-led activity such as cooking or creative. As soon as parents have gone in the morning the children can choose to be inside or outside, if things ever get a bit boisterous inside I gently remind children they can play outside that usually does the trick. I believe settings that do have outdoor access have a lot less anti-social behaviour (if only I could remember the quote). I don't think you have free access to the outside do you?

 

Some children to flit from activity to activity, some may be fitting their schema so it might be that they are actually doing the same sort of activity ie connecting things, lining things up, putting things in boxes.

 

I think it is asking an awful lot of children to sit while all the children arrive especially first thing in the morning.

 

As for asking children to select an activity, I haven't any experience of that so don't feel able to comment.

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We have a time when we all come together at about 10:30 - this works well for us :o

 

On arrival our children are free to choose wherever and whatever......I really wouldn't be comfortable with any sort of 'you have chosen - so you need to' situation........

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We have carpet time near the beginning of the session about 15 minutes after the children have come in. The are free to choose as soon as they come in. We sit down to go through daily timetable (a few children with ASC and generally children like to know the routine) then we have our main carpet session story etc... The outside opens as soon as this has happened, as children have already started to explore the inside they are more aware of the areas they would like to go to. We have a short carpet session at the end to review the day, quick maths/sounds session then dismiss the children. Hope this helps.

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We have freeflow from the get go as the start of the session is always a bit messy with parents coming and going, the snack bar is open from 10 and operates throughout freeflow. We come together for 'choosing time' at 11ish in the morning and 1.30 in the afternoon, this is a 10 minute time when children participate in adult led key group activities such as letters and sounds or child interest based play but we always have a floating staff member who plays with those children who do not choose any of the activities on offer. At the end of the session we come together as one group to share news and a story or singing session, again this is only for 10 minutes and there is a staff member available for those who do not want to join in ( always a couple of 2yrs old and rebellious 4 yrs old who choose not to join in and we respect their choice). I feel we have found the right balance of secure routine for children to follow whilst allowing them free choice for the majority of their time with us

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Hi we have self registration and freeflow for the first 45 mins, then sharing time with their keyperson ten mins maximum. Snack then begins and goes on for approximately 1 hour. Continue freeflow until tidy up time, then we all come together for a lovely story, songs, musical instruments.

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