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Remove All Group Times?


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We used to do a circle time in the mornings to introduce whats happening today

Then we had a singing time after tidy up time before lunch and then story after lunch

 

The consultant that came in last week said we should stop circle time and let the children come into play and suggested we didnt do singing or story time either as she said practitioners should be doing this as they go, ie if we are playing and come across a spider we start signing itsy bitsy and we should be available to read stories throughout the session.

 

Can I have your thoughts as we did try this and it seemed quite strange and the session just didnt feel right I know we have to leave it for a while but key persons have said they feel the children leaving to go to need some small group times together. The keypersons have different views on this can I have your views?

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We do a mix of both - we have welcome time at about 9 when most of the children are in and again at 1pm - this is just a hello song, and then the children divide up into key person groups for focussed activity, before moving into child initiated. During child initiated staff will sing , read stories, and generally engage in whatever way the children need them to. At the end of the session we have carpet time ( 15 minutes of story /phonics/singing) we did this because we have some children leaving then and it is safer to have them all together, and it gives key people time to chat to parents, while there are still staff supervising. Suppose there are benefits and pitfalls whatever way it's done .

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We currently do circle time sessions as well, with focus on Blast and Letters and Sounds for our 3-4 year olds, and Looking and listening for our 2-3 year olds. We do this at the end of the session, alternating with a story and song time, to meet the needs of our part time children. Circle time is optional for each child, although at the moment every child chooses to participate. I think that is the key to a successful group time. Children should have the option to sit out, but staff should make it so fun and exciting that they never want to.

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We hold a circle time (as such) but don't insist on the children sitting down.

At the start of the year we have a few sitting with us but by the last term most children choose to sit and listen to the story or songs. We also have stories read and songs during the session. Nothing is set in stone.

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We do a circle time at the start of the morning and then finish with a story and songs.

As others have said it is optional for the children but most of the time all the children join in as we make it fun!

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We have a PE session mid morning in the sports hall which is as a group and then at the end of session we have a 15 minute story and song time. This is so the children have a chance to "wind down" and for those stopping all day a chance to stop, rest and re energise. We used to have a coming in time but have found that having the children come in to play first thing is great because they want to go play not sit on a mat or in a circle so we scrapped that. Our EYA has said about making the storytime at the end more of an optional thing but we think it works fine as is so not sure we will change it.

Obviously we take the opportunity to explore song/story thoughout play still but I think group time is beneficial even if it is just one small dose in a session.

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We do group time too - letters and sounds, friendship island, songs & rhymes, story time, SEAL, we do a mixture of different things to keep it interesting. Its mainly in key groups but sometimes we do whole group sessions too.

 

The consultant that came in last week said we should stop circle time and let the children come into play and suggested we didnt do singing or story time either as she said practitioners should be doing this as they go, ie if we are playing and come across a spider we start signing itsy bitsy and we should be available to read stories throughout the session.

 

This is something practitioners do naturally anyway....isn't it??

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we have a welcome time too a hello song a chance to chat about the morning/afternoon parents stay too if they choose to.

The children love it!!

 

Some times it feels like those asvising us have forgotten that with the training and experience us practioners have we do actually knoe what we should be providing and how to interact during the day with our children so they grow and develop and have fun

 

Sorry bit of a rant but wish someties they would just leave us alone to get on with what we do best of all!!

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We have a group time about 15 minutes into the session. Before that children play and parents are able to chat to key person etc... They don't have to pack away when we have our carpet time, we encourage them to just put down what they are doing and join us on the carpet for a few minutes where we sing a hello song before continuing with their choice of activities. At the beginning of the year that may be the extent of it but as the year prgresses it often extends to include time to reflect on what happened the previous day, what they want to do today, time to share exciting news, look at a new resource or to discuss our theme. We have a similar session at the end which may include a story, singing (in addition to the goodbye song) reflection on what we have done for the day. In between the children are able to play uninterupted except for snack time which we do in key person groups. While some prefer "rolling snack" we have so far found that some time spent in our key person groups enjoying snack and chatting has plenty of benefits to balance the downside of children having to stop at a given time to come and eat snack.

 

The things your consultant mentioned about singing and stories during play is valid but I think most practitioners instinctively know this and are not denying children these opportunities just because they have a singing or story session later. We will continue with our current format until we see a really good alternative that works for us.

 

Mel

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  • 2 months later...

I was looking for advice on this subject because we had our Quality Assurance inspection this morning and although most of what we do seemed to please them, they did not like the circle time. We start at 9.30 and by the time all the children are in it is about 9.40. They "network" amongst themselves and the practitioners for that time and then we go into a time of doing letter of the week, a song using Makaton, telling the children what is one offer (the so called experts said they probably don;t know what we are talking about as if the children are stupid!) Then we take the register and then the children go and get on with their child initiated play. Bearing in mind that the two so-called experts spent the whole of circle time chatting to each other and distracting the kiddies, the kiddies got restless. Like many of you I have been in this job for many years and I think it is a good idea for the children to come together as a group for part of the session. The very little ones who cannot sit still (and not funded) come in at 10 and go straight to play so I cannot understand the problem. Apparently one little boy came in and sat down with his arms folded and was not "involved" but he is always like that and we don't exactly tie them to the chairs and force them to sit down! I have had my rant now and feel a lot better!

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Any reception teachers out there? Bet you prefer children who can sit and listen for at least 5 mins!!

 

Does making circle time activities compulsory for pre-school children necessarily mean that they are more able to sit for longer at school?

 

My intuition tells me that the opposite is true. If you make the activities voluntary but lots of fun the children will choose to participate and learn that sitting sharing activities as a group is rewarding experience. If you insist that they participate when they are not mature enough or comfortable to sit in the group they may see it in a negative light and find it much harder to participate effectively.

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As a reception teacher I would love my children to have experienced circle time if they are developmentally ready for it. That said if they aren't I'd prefer to be pre-warned that they didn't/don't participate!

 

I used to do it in my preschool and it worked because the children were able to sit for five minutes and to participate well. It particularly helped them to get to know those children they didn't usually play with, at least by name. But I've also had the day where really no one wanted to join in and it was always a time when someone was observing me :mellow: I tended to take it as a learning point and do as I felt best for the children generally and I often felt that the lack of participation was partly due to the presence of the observer too. I'm not trying to make excuses but in my setting all the adults sat with the children and joined the circle too. If the observer didn't do this they tended to cause a distraction simply by being sat out of the circle.

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We have morning circle time for registration, which is still very short and to the point at this time of year.

 

We also have to have a circle time at the end of the day, because 2 people need to start packing away otherwise we wouldn't be out of the hall in time for the next users.

 

It can be tough sometimes, but there's no other way for us. We tend to do some singing then a few action songs like 'everybody do this' then sit for a story before home time.

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we have just moved to have smaller circle times, we come in and all the children are on the mat for just a few minutes while we count them, and the children join in. Then they split into 3 smaller carpet groups, which we have found they engage in much better. We also have a 4th much smaller group for those who need a very brief time of sitting and listening. That said, that group have been achieving 9 minutes since we have done it this way as they are much better able to concentrate with the group no larger than 4 children and more direct input from the adult. In this time we are reading stories, or singing songs or playing a carpet game such as pass the teddy bear.

 

We try to split into two groups at the end, but depending on what the adults are doing it does sometimes end up being a large group of 30, the end is much more about finishing off the morning or afternoon and the adults do have other things they need to do to get ready for lunch/next session etc. So it's whatever works that day.

 

I do believe children need some structure, to be asked to do something they may not necessarily choose to do. No one is forced, but in my mind, parents have to take children to the supermarket, or to run an errand and this is something they have no choice over, but we make it as fun as possible.

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