Circle Time with Toddlers

Ms. NicoleTeachers

Circle time is a significant part of a child’s day at school….even in a classroom full of toddlers! Many people are under the impression that toddlers cannot sit still. Although toddler’s have a limited attention span, over time by having a daily circle time it will actually help improve it. Anyone would be impressed at how capable our little toddlers are! Our toddlers learn so much from our songs, dances and activities that we incorporate into our circle time. Children learn best when they are having fun. So as teachers we ensure our teaching techniques are entertaining and fun. We do this by keeping circle time upbeat, maintaining a routine and using repetition.
Children respond well with routine... they thrive with routine and structure. Maintaining a routine forms good habits, self discipline and helps with avoiding tantrums. Once a child is familiar with a routine they can predict what comes next and mentally prepare themselves for the next transition. This avoids getting our toddlers upset because they understand what comes next. So instead of throwing a tantrum because they don’t want to stop playing they look forward to the next fun activity. For example everyday after “free choice” we say “okaaay its clean up time”, then our toddlers run over to their cubbys with a huge smile on their faces because they know that once we are done cleaning up we go outside to play. So initially our new students may cry because they want to keep playing but after maintaining a daily routine they get to know that what comes next and the tantrums lessen. Repetition is very important with young toddlers whether repetition means sticking to a daily routine, classroom structure, repeating rules such as “gentle hands” or “walking feet” or singing the same songs.
Repeating the same Good morning song everyday does not get “boring” to our toddlers instead it gives the children something to look forward to. We can see their faces light up at how excited they get because they know the parts of the song and/or the movements that go with it. When we dance to the “Sleeping Bunnies” song they get so excited they lay down or start jumping before I even get to that part in the song. The same happens with “Ring-around-the-rosies”, before we get to the part that we all fall down the kids fall and laugh. By repeating the same song over and over they begin to learn it and await the fun parts. Repetition gives them an opportunity to better learn certain concepts. They can learn something “new” that they didn’t quite grasp the first or second time singing the same song. When my daughter was younger we would sing the alphabet together everyday as I would point to each letter as we sang the song. One day, after we sang the alphabet, she looked up at me and said “mommy listen...L-M-N-O-P!”. I will never forget the happy look on her face that day because after signing that song so many times she finally had that epic moment of understanding that “LMNOP” was NOT one letter. Hahaha.
Our Toddler class has a routine; we sing our good morning song, days of the week, months of the year, color song and then the alphabet. But there is always room for creativity within our routine and structure!! Circle time is a great opportunity to get our toddlers together and give them a strong sense of community and enhance their social skills. Toddlers typically parallel play with one another meaning they play alone but are interested in what the other children are doing. Circle time provides an opportunity to engage together in one activity. These activities vary depending on the children’s needs and on the Lead teachers weekly plan.