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Two child care providers with a group of children sitting in a circle.

Making it through circle time is often a challenge. Here are ways to ensure it's fun and successful for everyone!

Use developmentally appropriate activities. (HINT: If 8 of 10 children are not participating and paying attention, the activity isn't appropriate.)

  • Sing simple songs, especially with lots with whole body activities.
  • Tell stories with a flannel board or other props.
  • Read picture books with enthusiasm.

Make sure the length of circle time matches your group's attention span. This may mean only 5 minutes with a new group or child. From there, you can expand to 10 or 15 minutes depending on the age of the children. This will vary for different children and for different activities. Follow their lead - if they're no longer participating, it's too long!

If possible, schedule circle time after a large motor activity. After children spend some time moving around, their little brains are more ready to learn. If this isn't possible, start circle time with a 2-minute large motor activity.

  • Dance to get the wiggles out
  • March around the room
  • Hop like bunnies (to clean up before starting circle time)

Give children seating choices and teach personal space. Different seating options can provide support for kids who have decreased core strength or a boundary for kids who struggle with maintaining personal space. It can also offer a bit of movement for kids who need to wiggle or fidget.

  • Make shapes on the floor using masking tape
  • Use carpet squares for each child
  • Try alternate seating like a wobble stool, therapy ball, or beanbag chair
  • Use hula hoops to help teach children how to stay in their own personal space

Use the children's cues to identify what is working. Not working today? That's okay, cut it short or try it again another day. Above all, it's important to remember that circle time is not a one-size-fits-all situation. No two children are alike, and each child may require his or her own mixture of strategies to make circle time a success.