circle time,  fidgets,  wiggle seats

Preschool Circle Time Solutions

I used to dread circle time, but over the years I’ve learned a few strategies that have helped make circle time easier for my students, and less stressful for me.

First, I keep it short – 10 minutes at the most.  When I keep circle time short, I know that my students will be able to sit through it, and that they’ll actually be paying attention to what I have to say.  If I go too long they start to look like they’ve gotten lost in the clouds.  Of course there are exceptions to this rule, if the children are especially engaged in a conversation I don’t cut it off.

My little ones are wiggly, but I’ve found that they are able to stay in their seats better if it it really obvious where their seat is.  I’ve used carpet squares for this, but last year I received a grant for a class set of wiggle cushions and these have made a huge difference.  The children know where their seats are, and they can wiggle around a little without bothering each other.

If the children aren’t moving they’re poking each other, or tapping each other, or pulling on each other’s clothes and hair.  I originally introduced fidgets to help keep the kids’ minds focused, but they also work really well to keep their hands busy.  I have a basket full of fidgets (a variety because different kids like/need different kinds of stimulation) that I pass around at the beginning of circle time.  The children can choose the fidget that they want for circle time, or they can choose not to use a fidget.  I am very specific about my rules for the fidgets, and the children are clear on my expectations.  They have to keep the fidget in their lap, and it is only for squishing, squeezing, and pulling gently.  I’ve taken them away quite a few times, but my students have come to respect my rules, and they know exactly how to use their fidgets if they want to keep them.

The final strategy that has really helped my circle time is to create (and follow) a circle time routine.  We start with a good morning song, then read a story, do calendar, and play a math or language game.  After all of that I introduce the days’ activities and we get to work.  The routine has made a huge difference because my students always know what is coming next, and how much longer I expect them to pay attention.  It has also helped me because I know exactly what I need to prepare, so I’m not leaving the circle to go get something else, and losing the children’s attention.

These are easy ideas, and with a little time and effort that can make a huge difference!

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