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sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

  • 1.  sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-15-2018 04:15 PM
    Hi Friends, I am looking for some thoughts on the most developmentally appropriate way to be a part of Circle/Storytime for 4-5 year olds.
    I encourage my students to sit "on their bottoms." Criss cross, legs stretched out or knees bent are all acceptable.  I have a few children who prefer to kneel or lay down on their bellies.  Is it best to allow freedom of position as long as they are engaged or should there be a more specific requirement?
    I am looking forward to your thoughts. Maria

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    Maria Perillo
    Prescott AZ
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  • 2.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-16-2018 02:06 AM
    I think that it is best to allow students to attend in the way that is most comfortable for them.  You can teach them about personal space and how not to invade another person's space.  When I first started teaching I would try to enforce crossed legs, but I found that I spent a lot of time redirecting which was a waste of time.  Also I try to put myself in their place and I would feel awful if someone forced me to sit in a style that was uncomfortable for 10 min. or more.

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    Chanel N. Wilson M.Ed
    Early Childhood Education Consultant
    (973) 609-0055






  • 3.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-17-2018 11:24 AM
    I found all the comments helpful, I work with special needs 3 year olds and circle time is the hardest. I do find that most of my students want to stand or move to any singing or familiar story. They are more engaged when I am not always telling them to sit down hands in their lap. They do get opportunities to sit at a table to eat and do projects and they do a great job, I am going to relax the circle time and let the students enjoy themselves.

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    Teresa Fletcher
    Sped Teacher
    Selah School District
    Selah WA
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  • 4.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-16-2018 03:50 AM
    HI-
    For a structured activity like circle, I would probably offer a small chair or cushion if sitting was difficult for the child.  You could also modify the demand by having the child sit for the first few minutes and lay down for just the story or last few minutes of circle.  I would, however not insist on sitting during periods of unstructured times such as free play or gross
    motor play.
    One of the goals of preschool is to prepare for kindergarten where they probably wouldn't be allowed to lay on the floor during circle.
    Good luck! What a great question for the forum!



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    Monica McDonald, MA
    Cambridge, England
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  • 5.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-16-2018 06:29 PM
    I teach 4K in a Public School.  I place individual carpet squares to the outer edge of my circle carpet. I offer the child who is laying down the opportunity to rest in the Book Area where there are pillows and warm, soft blankets.  But, if they choose to remain on the carpet, they must comply with the carpet rules: Sit Criss Cross Applesauce with your hands on your knees or in your lap.  I have had successful compliance with the non IEP kids.  The IEP kids who are non-compliant are taken out of the room for a sensory break by the CC teacher.

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    Sonya Lessner
    4K Teacher
    Madison Metropolitan School District
    Madison WI
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  • 6.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-18-2018 08:28 AM
    Sonya:  With all due respect, and as others have noted, young children aren't designed to sit still for any length of time.  Many children need to shift and wiggle a bit in order to focus.  Having only one way to sit means they may be focusing only on doing that and not on the content of the circle time.  Many children--not just the ones on IEPs--don't have the core strength to sit like this for any length of time.  They need to lean on their hand, move a leg out, sit with their back supported by the wall, etc. in order to support themselves.  I'm with those who let kids sit how they want to if it doesn't hurt other children.  In some classrooms in which I consult children are given the choice to sit with their legs criss cross, in a line, or in a mountain (knees up) and some are given the option to sit in a chair for more support.  When there is only one correct way to sit, anything else is wrong, which seems unnecessarily punitive for children who are trying to be comfortable.

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
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  • 7.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-16-2018 09:26 AM
    Chanel, I love your response. I fully believe that children should be allowed to listen and learn in whatever way is comfortable for them! One of the things I fight against in my work is the notion that sitting = learning. That may have made sense to educators before there was research, but we now know that sitting increases fatigue and reduces concentration. There's also more and more (and more) evidence that physical activity contributes to optimal brain functioning. And, of course, we're all aware that young children have to experience concepts in order to fully grasp them. That's why I also feel it's perfectly fine if a child needs to move to the rhythm of a poem or story, or to act it out!

    One of the purposes of preschool may be to prepare children for kindergarten...but if kindergarten is getting it wrong (forcing kids to sit instead of engaging in active learning), I think it's up to us to fight back. The children are what matter most -- and we have the research on our side!

    I'll close with a statement from pediatric occupational therapist Christy Isbell, who once told me: "Who's to say we have to sit down to learn? Why can't we stand to learn? Why can't we lay on the floor on our tummies to learn? Why can't we sit in the rocking chair to learn? There are lots of other simple movement strategies. Just changing the position can make a big difference."

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    Rae Pica
    Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
    Alexandria VA
    www.raepica.com
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  • 8.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-17-2018 07:21 PM
    I like your response Rae.  It makes sense to me.  I will give it a go.

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    Sonya Lessner
    4K Teacher
    Madison Metropolitan School District
    Madison WI
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  • 9.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-22-2018 02:51 PM
    My circle times always look like I am leading a can of worms. There are sitters, kneelers, tummy layers, straight keg sitters and those coming and going from the group to meet their own needs, (nose blowing, putting a forgotten toy away, getting a sweater, etc). About the only thing I discourage is W sitting and crawling onto another child. I gage my group time by their interest level, really focused , asking for more songs or stories we keep going. No focus, to much wiggling done really quick. Since I have been doing this I see much more interest in group times and even a willingness to join. Rea Pica made a big impact on how I view movement and learning.

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    Helen Meissner
    Lead Teacher
    Love To Grow On
    Saint Paul MN
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  • 10.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-23-2018 07:57 AM
    Helen, I was smiling the whole time I was reading your response. But your last line took my breath away! Thank you. You just made my day!

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    Rae Pica
    Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
    Alexandria VA
    www.raepica.com
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  • 11.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-23-2018 03:56 PM
    Helen, That sounds lovely and like a lot of fun!  You probably already know this but when kids W sit it is sometimes because they don't have enough core strength to hold themselves upright comfortably--they're trying to get a larger base to sit on (not that they know this cognitively).  Then it can become a habit.  Those kids might like to sit with their backs against a wall or shelf or in a chair.

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
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  • 12.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-24-2018 08:59 AM
    Thank you I did know that nut I love your idea of including ways for them to build that balance.  Thank you.

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    Helen Meissner
    Lead Teacher
    Love To Grow On
    Saint Paul MN
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  • 13.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-16-2018 10:31 AM
    Also, when children move to different positions, they are engaging different muscles in their bodies. Laying on their tummies and propping up on their forearms to see a book is engaging the neck, torso, back, and shoulders which all need to be stable and developed for proper arm and hand function. To connect that to school readiness ... it is helping prepare the body for handwriting and keyboarding!

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    Stacy Benge
    Presenter/ Child Development Specialist
    Coppell TX
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  • 14.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-16-2018 12:45 PM
    I think all responses are valid. In my first year of teaching preschoolers I too was doing more redirecting than circle activity. There were times I would ask the children to lay on their tummies, after a few minutes I would have them lay on their sides and just continuously move them until we were sitting criss cross.

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    Anna Marie Nip
    Home Base Teacher
    MEO Head Start
    Kaunakakai HI
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  • 15.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-16-2018 09:30 PM
    This is an interesting topic worth pondering. I teach 3-5 year olds and circle time is by far the most challenging part of my day. I agree that children this age were not meant to hold still to learn. I would also agree that as long as they were being respectful of another's  space, body position should not matter.
    Just because children sit in one position in kindergarten doesn't make it right. Perhaps we all need to rethink what works best for our children and their ability to learn.

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    Wendy Davis
    Teacher Home Visitor
    Relief Nursery
    North Bend OR
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  • 16.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-19-2018 08:41 AM
    For me, they key is mixing up Gathering Time.  We sit a bit, then do a stand-up or other type of movement activity, sit, then move.  Do some type of movement before sitting down to start with.  Young students, especially 3's, probably shouldn't be sitting criss-cross for more than 5 minutes without some type of movement.  I had some students who just were not comfortable sitting criss-cross.  They were allowed to sit legs out as long as they weren't touching anyone.  Some kids also like to sit on their knees, but they had to sit in back.  One size definitely does not fit all.

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    Julie Bedard
    Wildwood FL
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  • 17.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-20-2018 12:23 AM
    This is something I have had several discussions about, and something that always pops out in the conversation is that it doesn't matter. If they are engaged, it doesn't matter. And sometimes we don't realize a child is engaged. One explain is a teacher had a child who stayed at the door for morning circle. He didn't come in for months, he watched as the children participated, but didn't engage. The teacher responded by moving the circle closer. During a later conversation with the family of the boy, the teacher was surprised to find out he was going home and telling the parents about the stories and songs and other activities. He even asked his parents to buy items used in the arts and crafts activities to do them at home.
    Point is, don't worry about how they are sitting or even where they are sitting. Focus more on how to engage each child, how to encourage each child to engage. Some children won't engage during but take away what was done. As long as how or where they are sitting isn't distracting from others, it shouldn't matter.

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    Nicole Austin

    AK
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  • 18.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-21-2018 09:06 AM
    Thanks for your responses, Julie and Nicole! The purpose of any activity with the children should be engagement, vs. compliance.

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    Rae Pica
    Rae Pica Keynotes & Consulting
    Alexandria VA
    www.raepica.com
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  • 19.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-24-2018 02:02 PM
    My preK students got very good at sitting cross legged at Meeting time, but I thought I would give them the option to sit in a chair.  We just started last week, but they love it.  After a lesson on how to carry a chair, they've been good at moving them, though it does add a few extra minutes to the transitions. And a few kids still prefer to sit on the rug.  I'm not sure we will continue this, but I felt like mixing things up a bit. Love these kids!

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    Dominic Tejeda
    New Windsor NY
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  • 20.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 02-24-2018 04:58 PM
    Hello,

    My name is Jacquline and I'm completing my graduate studies in Pre-school Education this month. I read your concerns for pre- K development of sounds and letter identification and the need to ensure children are on task.  I feel your compassion, and desires to help children learn. I believe having a print rich environment that introduces children to letters and sounds will enhance their vocabulary throughout the day from signing in and out, to outdoor creative play classrooms.

    Children learn and develop according to what they have seen and through constant social interactions with their peers and caretakers. Children learn best in an environment that is similar to their upbringing and cultural exchanges.  Ensuring they are safe while engaging with peers and given the ability to acquire learning in a developmentally appropriate classroom, that is enriched with materials and inviting is best practice.

    Having teaching strategies and training in order to assist to every diverse child through social exchanges, will increase their vocabulary and cognitive development I think! good luck and thanks for sharing.

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    Jacqueline Hatcher
    Miramar FL
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  • 21.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 03-10-2018 02:00 AM
    Hello everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your posts.  I used to work in a child care centre where children were permitted to sit however they wanted during circle time.  I now work as a kindergarten teacher at an internationl school and I feel the pressure of asking my kids to always sit criss cross on the carpet when we are doing circle time.  I struggle with this (as do the children) and I find that I spend a great deal of that time reminding children to sit on their bottoms.

    There were two comments in previous posts that really stood out for me.

    1. If they are engaged, why does it matter how they sit?
    2. Sitting does not equal learning

    I am going to start allowing my class to sit during circle however they would like. I bet that once they get some practice with not invading someone else's personal space, this is going to be a positive experience for everyone.

    I do have one question though. Do you allow children to sit/kneel/stand anywhere? My concern is that they will block the view of children who choose to sit crosslegged or lay down. How have you all manages this in your classrooms?

    Thank you!

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    Crystal Cullimore
    Kindergarten Teacher

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  • 22.  RE: sitting, kneeling or laying during Circle/Storytime

    Posted 03-10-2018 09:59 AM
    Freedom of movement is part of the CLASS tool -- and it's one of the areas that teachers frequently score in the mid range or even the low range.  For some reason, I thought we had cleared this up decades ago -- I agree with the contributor who realized she wouldn't want someone telling her how to sit.

    On another note, I'm a bit concerned about the misuse of the word lay/laying.  We are talking about children lying down during circle time.  We need to be grammatically correct in our language if we expect children to learn to speak correctly.

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    Cathy McAuliffe, PhD
    Early Childhood Coordinator
    NorthWest Arkansas Community College
    Bentonville, Arkansas
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