There are many unique learning benefits to having children learn together in a group setting. It may seem like a simple daily ritual within the classroom, but when you look closer, there is so much learning happening just beneath the surface. No matter what you call it (circle time, morning meeting, ect.) this gathering is extremely valuable for the development and education of your children. The 5 benefits we will explore in this post are community building, social skills, emotional skills, physical development, and language development. Read on to find out how circle time can aid your students’ development in these crucial areas
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “community”? Is it your town and the people in it? Maybe it’s a group of people you know from a social or volunteer group. Often times when people come together for a shared cause, there is a sense of belonging and connection. Our preschoolers experience the same thing when they are in circle time. Circle time allows our class to come together for a shared experience. The act of coming together will help them to build a sense of community and belonging in the classroom.
Circle time offers a great opportunity for students to practice their social skills and social competencies. Social competencies refer to skills like self-regulation, interpersonal knowledge, and self-identity. During circle time, children see others practicing these skills, or maybe even struggling with these skills. Seeing and understanding the experiences of others will help them develop the social skills that will be vital to forming healthy relationships with others and with themselves later in life.
With the social aspect of circle time comes the emotional aspect. Interacting and collaborating with other as a group will bring about new feelings that children can learn to address and understand during circle time. One great example of this is when passing an item around the circle for each student to hold for a little while before passing it to the next student. Students will feel excited when they see this object, and may reach and try to take it right away. However, they begin to develop impulse control and learn to wait their turn. They get to see others playing and enjoying the item, helping them develop empathy. Then when they have had their turn and it is time to pass the item to the next student, they begin to understand that it is ok for things to come to an end and sometimes it is time to move on, even if we wish it would last just a bit longer. Learning these skills early in childhood sets your preschoolers up for success as they grow and continue in their education.
While dancing and movement activities during circle time may just look like play time, it is truly play with a purpose. Children are more willing than adults to try new things, so it is the perfect time to introduce them to new movements. Physical activity during circle time promotes healthy growth and development, a healthy body composition, a the development of motor, concentration, and cognitive skills. The mind and body are one, so when students are given a chance to move their bodies and practice physical skills like balance and body awareness, they come back to circle time ready to sit and listen. A great trick to use in circle time is after having your students sit for a listening activity, offer them a chance to stand and move with a movement activity. This will keep them engaged and eager to see what will happen next in circle time.
During circle time, students are gaining exposure to vocabulary, speech, rhyming patterns, and sentence structure. All of this valuable information is preparing them to be readers later in life. Songs are a great way to practice these things, as a familiar tune might be just the thing that helps your students feel confident enough to try singing or speaking with you.
Communication skills are so valuable, and our children are able to practice them when they themselves talk. It may feel like an interruption when your children start talking during circle time. However, when they talk about something related to the activity, they are forming connections between this experience and their own world. The other children in the circle are also able to learn more about the student who is talking, helping them build community. If you feel like your circle time is getting off trach because all your students want to share their thoughts, try using something like a talking stick to keep everyone focused and listening respectfully.
The learning opportunities created by circle time and group music making are like no other within the classroom. We know facilitating an engaging circle time can be challenging, especially when children all have their own unique needs and interests that need to be addressed. That’s why we here at Musically Minded strive to create activities that will keep your whole class engaged and excited about learning. We even include full activity guides with each of our downloads so you know exactly how to use each activity. Music adds such a unique element to your circle time. When participating in music, there is no wrong answer, so students are free to explore and engage in any way they like. We would love to hear which activities have been most popular with your students, and how circle time has changed the way your students learn!
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