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Benefits of Circle Time in Older Elementary School Classrooms

Circle time is a beloved teaching tool in preschool and kindergarten classrooms, but is it beneficial to include circle time in older elementary school classrooms? We say yes!

From simple student-teacher interaction to addressing upcoming projects, circle time is a way to increase communication in the classroom and solidify learning goals.

What is a Circle Time? 

In an elementary school classroom, circle time is when the young students gather in a circle for a guided group activity or discussion. Over time, this technique has been proven effective, especially in enhancing the social skills of students of the same age.

Reasons Why Older Elementary Classrooms Can Benefit from Circle Time

When practiced correctly and effectively, circle time activities can help elementary school kids in the following ways:

Encourage Social Skill Development 

Socialization remains to be the major benefit associated with circle time. When students gather to sing songs, greet each other, or discuss something, they become more aware of the world around them, improving socialization.

Improve Learning Motivation 

Elementary school children love social interactions. Commonly, a learner will go home in the evening and start talking about the activities they participated in during the day. In the long run, this becomes a source of motivation for the child. They will begin to look forward to when they go to school to play with others. 

However, the success of circle time on this front depends on how fun the activities and stories are. The goal is to make every student feel like they are part of the group while instilling a deep love of learning.

Enhance Cognitive Development 

The ability of a student to grasp and remember the things they learn is known as cognitive development. Circle time can improve a student's cognitive development when used to discuss problems and push their imagination. It is also perfect for identifying students thinking abilities, interests, and memory.

Improve Fine and Gross Motor Skills 

Circle time activities involve coordination and rhythm. The students must listen and then strategically reply or act, depending on what the circle time routine demands. In the end, students can improve their fine and gross motor skills faster than if they didn't participate in circle time.

Encourage Routine Building 

After going through a particular circle time routine, the students will automatically start anticipating the next moves. They understand certain instructions and the consequences of not getting a particular move right. They create a routine in their head that they religiously follow.

How to Get the Best Out of Circle Time for Older Elementary School Classrooms

The stakes teachers and students face are higher for older elementary school classrooms. Consider the following before introducing your students to any circle time routine:

Choose a Short Length

Elementary school kids can only maintain concentration for a short time. With that in mind, try to make the circle time as quick as possible (anywhere between 3 to 10 minutes is okay.)

Encourage Repetition

A perfect circle time activity is conducted daily. This helps the learners to create and adhere to a certain routine, placing them in a better position to grasp what is intended.

Prepare Your Circle Time Space

Before any circle time activity, prepare the students in every relevant aspect. For instance, ensure the environment is safe, the props are in sync with the circle time routine, etc.

Include Various Activities

No circle time routine can appeal to all students. You must find and use different activities to help accommodate every student, their interests, and their learning style. Plan various circle time lessons with reading, songs, daily tasks, etc.

Examples of Circle Time Activities for Older Elementary School Classrooms 

While there is no specific one-fit-all circle time activity, the following have worked for many elementary school classrooms:

  • Books: Read a chapter book such as Holes or Charlotte's Web to help students relax after lunch.
  • Songs: Sing songs to memorize times tables or US Presidents.
  • Dance: Take stretch breaks to keep students focused on their work. 
  • Calendar: Identify the day of the week, daily weather, upcoming projects, holidays, classmates' birthdays, etc.

Allow your students to provide suggestions for what they would like to see or do during circle time; this allows them ownership over the activity and their learning. 

The Key Takeaway

Circle time can help educators build relationships with their students, improving their social, cognitive, and fine motor skills. So, even if you teach 6th grade, a change of scenery to circle time may be just what your preteens need.

Written by Mary Joseph
Education World Contributor
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