I found Circle Time to be a bizarre gathering when I first experienced it. I was a floater in a small center and would often be in the 3’s and 4’s room when it began. I would sit in the back and quietly whisper “Criss cross applesauce” and “Shhhh! Listen to Miss Amanda” as Miss Amanda would try to get through the calendar, weather and letter of the week while attempting to keep one very active girl from bringing the easel down on top of her.
I continued on the tradition when I found myself hundreds of miles away jumping into family child care. I would try to fit in everything that the children needed to know about colors, numbers, letters, days of the week, the months, upcoming holidays and whatever theme we were learning about that week into ten minutes of constant interruptions.
These days Circle Time is a very different beast. Take today for example, I finally got the pumpkins off the counter and outside (you wouldn’t believe how difficult that was). First the pumpkins were carried around, wheeled from one side of the patio to the other in the wheelbarrow, placed in the pots of hibernating mint, and finally rolled down the hill to the play yard. Two of the four pumpkins made the journey intact, the other two cracked neatly in half. The Twins and L promptly sat down and began poking at the seeds and seeing what my response would be if they tried to eat them. Then getting no response other than my acknowledgement, they proceeded to chew up a few and spit them out unceremoniously.
K decided to join in after a bit, but was not thrilled with the slick and gooey nature of the inside of the pumpkin, so he stuck exploring the the whole pumpkins.
This is how circle time should happen; authentically, when there is something of interest to explore and discuss, not when the adult decides there is something important to teach.