Saturday, 11 July 2015

Circle Time - To do or not to do...

I have, over the years, frequently seen discussions around whether or not young children should be engaging in circle time...

and really this is one of those things that cannot be a "to do or not to do" as it is, as with most things in life, not about what we are doing, but why we are doing what we are doing.

If the circle time is just a part of the daily routine... a have to... that is done on automatic... with the same schedule of day, weather etc etc - then maybe its time to think why exactly you are doing that? Are the children engaged? What are the children learning? What is the point of the circle time?

ready for a philosophy session... a book to read to get us thinking... a crown to wear to get into role as we share our thoughts...
 
The only "circle time" I have is when we meet for eating... and we chat... and also, and very importantly, for our philosophical dialogues... which have been as long or as short as the children have shown interest in... my role is to facilitate THEIR dialogue... BUT children learning to listen to each other has not come overnight... this has been something we have done through other playful activities to support the children's listening skills... and the better the children have become at listening to each other (have the patience, respect and interest in what another child is saying) the better the children have been in their dialogues... this I measure by their enthusiasm, how active they are (how inactive I need to be) and also the length of the dialogue itself... sometimes I see they need to break it off as they are restless, sometimes they tell me they do not want to finish yet...

Circle time needs to meaningful... circle time in itself is not a bad thing, it is just another tool in the teacher's kitbox... it's just to be reflective, to know and understand why you use circle time, how you use circle time, and how you are supporting the children to be active participants of circle time... it cannot be a little activity on the side... it needs to be woven in to the fabric of what you are doing... both to support the projects, but also activities to support the circle time...

I do lots of self-regulation games, listening games, listening art and self-regulation art... and also games and play outside and role play... all sorts that enable the children during our philosophy sessions (circle time)...

I do not do calendar or weather... unless this is meaningful to what we are doing with the children at the time...

I think practising to sit still and be quiet are not good skills, they are passive skills... but learning to be an active listener, to be able to self-regulate - will help children in their learning now and for the rest of their lives... in school but also in their social/emotional development too.


Below is a list of some of the activities I have done with the children to support their listening and self regulation skills... to enable the children to be active participants during our circle times.

 The Best Position for Listening - this was a circle time activity to explore how we sit to listen... it involved us sitting in a circle talking, going to table to draw, to come back to the circle to share and explore...

The Listen Dance - using movement to support listening skills... listening is more than just using your ears

The Bubble Game - i think this is absolutely the children's favourite game to play... and they have no idea why I am so keen to play this game...

Mirror Mirror - listening with eyes - another fun game (and tricky)

Kandinsky - art inspired listening play... also great for turn taking, which is an essential part of being in a dialogue.

Art and self regulation - this paint by letters is about self regulation, the dialogues that occur when you do not keep to your area... this is not art to be creative in the art sense... but art to be creative in the social sense.

a hundred languages - a hundred ways to listen... if we are to listen to children... if children are to listen to each other we need to be able to listen in many different ways.

There are 42 posts linked to listening... from activities to my explorations of what listeing is ... as well as images to remind people who have listened and participated in one of my workshops. Please explore some of them if you have time and inclination... there are also 73 posts linked to philosophy with children that you might also find interesting.

8 comments:

  1. gggrrr just finished typing my comment and for some reason I lost it! Anyway , I said how I love your posts and am so glad that you share them here. I feel so inspired! Well done and thank you xx

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  2. I'd love to know what the book is in the picture...? Do you do philosophy with early years?

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    1. the book is called "I am the King" by Leo Timmers.
      Yes we do philosophy with children from 1-6 yrs... in different groups of course.. non-verbal philosophy/pre-philosophy games for the youngest ones... and the sessions go from there... It has been a wonderful process to folow with the children... I started 2.5 yrs ago with this group, when the youngest was just 2 yrs old.

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  3. Sounds fabulous. What sort of questions do you discuss around the book? How do you do your philosophy planning?

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    1. the planning always starts with the children... what are they interested in... what aspect of the book...

      with this book pictured the question was if they were the king what rules would they make... KING regardless of whether or not they were boy and girl... we repeated the question another time where they were all asked if the were QUEEN... to see if gender made any difference on their answers... it made virtually no difference we discovered...

      At the moment they are interested in robots... so we have watched films and made robots and designs which has been a entrance into a dialogue... for instance a film about the robot sent up to mars got them thinking about whether robots have feelings or not... which got them thinking where do feelings come from... and if they then come from the heart and brain... do robots have a heart and brain... so we are in the middle of building a robot to see if there is a heart and brain so that they can continue the dialogue...

      so basically our activities go from observing the children... the dialogue... to challenging/supporting the childrens play to deepen their understanding and allow the dialogue to intensify... or through observations we notice that the dialogue needs to take a new direction... it stops having a beginning and an end... it all rolls into each other, supporting each other... dialogue, learning and play.

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  4. Do you as the teacher choose the book or is book chosen based on observations of child interest?

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    1. Both... although observations of the children is always root...

      sometimes it will be to meet the interest or cognitive or social needs of the group, sometimes to challenge the group or to introduce a new idea...

      But in the philosophy sessions it will always be based on interest... because without interest the dialogue will not go very far...

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