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What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

  • 1.  What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-26-2021 05:20 AM
    Hello

    I have a group home program and I have mostly 1 1/2 year-olds and 1 preschooler. I've rearranged the classroom to establish centers and I just started circle time without technology. This has been extremely difficult and I'm wondering if they're too young for this?

    What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Thank you

    ------------------------------
    Cherrita Lusane
    Owner- Operator
    It Takes A Village Childcare, LLC
    Norristown PA
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  • 2.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-27-2021 01:52 AM

    I am not fond of morning meeting as a teacher directed activity for any preschool group.  It encourages children to be sedentary and silent passive learners.  When are children ready for morning meeting? When they decide to organize and hold one. Active learners will do this. Passive learners will not.
    Unfortunately most of us are required to hold some sort of morning meeting, which usually includes a lot of correcting and controlling of the natural healthy behaviors of children by teachers. I try to keep mine short, include movement, and share power as much as possible with the children. Attendance is optional. If attendance is optional and no one comes to your meeting, what does this tell you? You are so lucky you are not required to have a morning meeting!




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    Barbara Gallios
    PreK Teacher
    Presidio Early Education School
    San Francisco CA
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  • 3.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-27-2021 07:39 AM
    I am an Child Development Specialist for an EHS program and I inform my teachers that I do not expect any large group activity times on their daily schedule (this is through to 3 years old).  I do find that some of the 2 year old rooms will find themselves having informal "circle times" as the children are ready for larger group activities.  As another poster mentioned children will start having these experiences naturally as they are ready.  The "circle times" that work do not have rigid expectations of children remaining engaged with the larger group and they throw out the expectations that all the children will sit on set spots (like those on traditional circle rugs).  These activities are also active engagement (even if it involves reading a book).  My favorite sorta circle times have been ones created between lunch and nap time as a management/transition activity so one teacher can finish the self care/clean up of lunch while the other manages the bulk of the children.  This one is tyically some slower large body stretch/yoga/drama type activities that hold the children's attention and starts to support their shift from high active to lower active levels as a way to prepare to lie down for nap.

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    Laura Pearce
    Perry Hall MD
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  • 4.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-27-2021 09:38 AM
    The chance of getting a group composed of 1 1/2 year olds to sit for circle time is near impossible. But, of course, does it have to be sendentary. Why not putting on music and moving to music or something else more active.

    As for 2 year olds, some will enjoy a story read in circle time as well as sharing stories from home, but many 2s will not sit, which is developmentally appropriate for that age. When I was the Director, the teacher of the 2s did not insist that the children sit quietly or sit at all if they were unable to do so. But, we found that even the children who were wandering during the short morning meeting were listening to a story being read or a song being sung. Often, when the activity was more physical, they would wander over and join the group. The thing is that 2s do not usually sit for any length of time that would measure up to what adults might expect if they are unfamiliar with development at this age.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 5.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-28-2021 11:02 AM
    I am a Fan of morning meetings as long as they are done well. Tough with really little ones. Our special needs centers have 2 year olds with special needs including autism. I think the important thing is not that all are sitting still and quiet. Its important to get children used to routines, used to taking turns, sharing, calling on them with their names and so forth. SHORT is good. My kids attended Bank Street's Family center in NYC, a fabulous program with typically developing and those with special needs. It was great. Saying hello is good ("Good morning to Maxie to Maxie....."), a short book, simple things. Techniques matter and I would not sweat it if some are not so focused. We've also attended mommy and me classes and I see a similar benefit including with toddlers, getting used to routines, following the speaker, following simple directions, help with language and more. Music is usually a great way to get their attention (cell phone or instruments and singing).

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    Scott Mesh, PhD, CEO
    Los Niños Services (NYC) www.losninos.com
    Young Child Expo & Conference www.youngchildexpo.com
    scott.mesh@losninos.com
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/scottmeshnyc/
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  • 6.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-28-2021 11:17 AM
    We have a reading circle time starting in our 12-18 month old classroom.  It has always amazed me how are teachers in that classroom are able to get 5-6 toddlers to sit down in a semi circle and listen to her reading a book.  The books are short and filled with lots of pictures.  She is very animated when she reads the stories, but she also includes the children in the stories getting them to repeat single word naming items from the pictures in the book, identifying different colors in the pictures, or if there are animals in the book, getting them to imitate animal noises.  This is usually no longer than a 10-15 minute activity and then they are off and running around again.

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    Tim Kaminski
    Director/Owner
    Gingerbread Kids Academy
    Richmond TX
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  • 7.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-29-2021 11:42 AM

    Many valuable opinions and techniques have been offered, so I'll just add a few observations. Some teachers may be successful in holding a toddler circle because they have a close and longstanding relationship with the children in their class. Others may have a charismatic and compelling performance style. These conditions don't apply to all teachers, so it's not surprising that many teachers would struggle to hold toddlers' attention.

    My favorite way to hold a toddler reading circle (Pre-COVID, I am not teaching in-person currently): I grab a few very simple books that I think they will like, if possible, relating to the materials I'm planning to set out. I place the books nearby, where the children can see them. I bring out their favored materials, usually blocks, duplos, vehicles, etc. curated a bit so as not to overwhelm the space. We play alongside each other, together, wherever the mood goes. Eventually a child will notice a book I've put out, crawl into my lap and ask to read. As we start, others will often come over and cuddle in. Because we are sitting right in the midst of play, all the children have access to the book, to dip in or out, to listen, comment or just feel the warmth of the gathering. 

    While this may not appear to be a planned circle, there is planning involved. I hope that my book choices speak to the play they are doing, and show that books relate to their lives. More important: literacy is founded on warm relationships, transferring the cozy feeling between us, to cozy feelings about books. As a specialist, I work with families to create that connection in the unique ways they are able to develop within their family routines. The same goes for us teachers.



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    Karen Lefkovitz
    Independent Consultant
    Philadelphia PA
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  • 8.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-30-2021 12:40 PM

    Karen Lefkowitz:
    That's a beautiful description of a thoughtful Toddler room!  Thank you.



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    Aren Stone
    she/her/hers
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
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  • 9.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-31-2021 09:17 AM
    Hello Karen

    What you've described is very similar to the flow of my class, however, I also just enrolled a preschooler and this what sparked the question. Thank you for your input, it was very helpful!


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    Cherrita Lusane
    Owner- Operator
    It Takes A Village Childcare, LLC
    Norristown PA
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  • 10.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 02-01-2021 12:20 PM

    I think your situation may be more about how to manage a mixed age group that includes toddlers. Having worked in a mixed age setting, I've found some advantages and some challenges. There is a great opportunity for the preK child to take a leadership role. 

    However, I see what you mean about preK circle time, which I would think of more broadly as group time. This student could enjoy and benefit from group time where they can interact with other students, listening, planning, building on each other's ideas. With a toddler majority, it will be hard to provide this precise opportunity. It feels a bit like one hand clapping.

    In my own situation, I advocated for separating the students by developmental level for short periods of time each day, to give some students a chance to do more focused group work, and not need to accommodate the needs of toddlers all the time. This requires at least 2 classroom teachers.

    I would also be very interested in strategies others have found useful in toddler inclusive mixed age groups. How do you provide for the preK's developing interest in taking part in a more complex group experience?



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    Karen Lefkovitz
    Independent Consultant
    Philadelphia PA
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  • 11.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 29 days ago
    Thank you Karen Lefkovitz and Tim Kaminski. I think what's striking is the idea of how these folks think of meeting time. Part of this discussion is how many children are in the group??  Smaller groups work better in this situation than larger groups. While some groups of 2s are okay with a short meeting time, nearly all 18 months olds aren't.
    A short time where most of the children are engaged with the teacher around something - music, book, etc. would qualify.  Having them all required to sit would not qualify.
    A key is SHORT and interesting.  When they leave, they are telling you they are not engaged and it's time for something else.
    It's a "dance" between the teacher's idea of what will engage the children and their idea of what they'll engage in.
    Great topic!

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    Ellen Cogan, MS Ed - Owner, Chief Consultant - HILLTOP Early Childhood SERVICES
    NYS Early Learning Credentialed Trainer
    NYS Master Cadre, Pyramid Model
    Implementation Planner, Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership
    www.earlychildinfo.com
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  • 12.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 29 days ago
    This is a wonderful, perceptive, age appropriate way to plan and think about group times. Bravo!!!

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    [Julie] [Olsen Edwards]
    Soquel CA
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  • 13.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 01-29-2021 12:35 AM
    I would say base it on your group. Not every program is the same. Your students and your style will dictate your flow and set up. For that age; I tend to have items out so they can explore and I only do gatherings when it's something that I have to closely monitor or facilitate.

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    Tatina Lloyd
    Chula Vista CA
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  • 14.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 02-01-2021 11:36 AM
    Hi, Cherrita,
    Lots of good advice here! Especially keeping the time brief - about 2 minutes for each year of age (e.g., 4 minutes for the 2's) Here's a trick to make group or circle time go well - have circle time in a corner and line the children along the two walls that come together, with the teacher facing them from the open space. People with their backs to a wall are calmer and more attentive (interesting tidbit from ergonomic research).
    Best of luck with your program!

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    Hazel Osborn
    Consultant
    Loveland CO
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  • 15.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 02-01-2021 11:15 PM
    Thank you do much for that tip! I will try that!

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    Cherrita Lusane
    Owner- Operator
    It Takes A Village Childcare, LLC
    Norristown PA
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  • 16.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 02-01-2021 10:58 PM
    Group time or class meeting  can hold in the morning or in the afternoon. This helps to bring routine or consistency into the classroom. I work with 3 to 4 year old. This enables the children to get together to share greetings, share what happened a day previous at home or over the weekend. This encourages inclusion where every child will feel belonging by expressing themselves. It doesn't have to be all sedentary because there will be lots of movement in the various activities. It can be children directed by them picking out what books to read or writing some missing letters, they even want to be the teacher sometimes. Children share with each other what they learn from the book being read. This meeting will be done between three to five minutes maximum. Children that do not want to participate do not have to, but there are lots of times they will join when there is something interesting  to them most especially during story time. As for the toddlers, I think few of them can be gathered together at a time for some fun activities like dancing, reading to them or listening to stories. The time has to be really short. There are lots of interesting games that the children would love to play together as a group.

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    Doris Lawson
    Saint Paul MN
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  • 17.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 30 days ago
    Doris Lawson gave some good ideas about circle/group time. Cherita, you came to the correct conclusion that the children who you care for are too young to expect to come as a group to circle time.

    Circle/Group Time where you expect all the 1-1/2-year-olds  to sit will end up with you disappointed when it does not happen. I think having centers is great. At this age and even older, children move around and explore what is available to them and if they find something that interests them, they will investigate its possibilities. Many will sit for a story one-on-one but don't expect that they will sit as a group. If you play music and model dancing around, all or most of the children might engage in this.

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    Nora Krieger, PhD
    Associate Professor Emerita/Past Chair NJEEPRE
    Bloomfield College/NJ Educators Exploring the Practices of Reggio Emilia
    Highland Park, NJ
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  • 18.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 29 days ago
    The true fact is that morning meeting can start as early as possible, even from infants. Only that we cannot put them all together as a group , it can be one -on-one or maybe two for the very little ones. The activities can be picture readings, singing, reading stories, scribblings, and even more fun activities and it has to be really short before they lost interest. We only need to make it interesting , fun, and what the children like. The importance of it is to build skills about routines, consistency , and fun time into our day. Children love it when they know something fun is coming up one activity after the other. Therefore I'm suggesting morning or afternoon meetings can start at any age group depending on how we handle it and how intentional we are about it. Thank you.

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    Doris Lawson
    Saint Paul MN
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  • 19.  RE: What age is appropriate to introduce circle time/ morning meeting?

    Posted 30 days ago
    At our center, we start them at early as 18months. They are able to express themselves and start building a routine.

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    Aisha Arif
    Columbia MD
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