At Freegrounds Junior School, we have incorporated dedicated Circle Time activity sessions into our curriculum as part of our continuing drive to support children’s wellbeing. Circle Time is used as a vehicle to scaffold and support relationships and to give children space and time to talk about their emotions in a safe space with a clear set of established ground rules
What is Circle Time?
Circle Time is a popular activity that is used in many primary schools to help develop positive relationships between children. It aims to give them tools to engage with and listen to each other.
It is often used as an opportunity to solve problems that are affecting the class, for example too much talking during lessons, or someone being picked on.
The whole class takes part in Circle Time at the same time, usually led by their teacher, who sits in the circle with the children.
The circle encourages unity, respect, turn-taking and working together towards a shared vision.
It also helps children work on five key skills, without which Circle Time doesn’t work: thinking, listening, looking, speaking and concentrating.
When is it used?
Circle Time is used mainly in primary schools, although it can also work in preschool settings. It is sometimes used in secondary schools, too.
Ideally, it should take place regularly, and last between 20 and 50 minutes, depending on the children’s ages and ability to concentrate.
What happens during Circle Time?
Circle Time should not just be a time to chat; it needs a specific structure to make sure all children have the opportunity to be involved.
Certain ground rules apply, and children are often involved in deciding what those rules should be. Common rules include:
- Putting hands up to speak, and not interrupting;
- Taking turns;
- Allowing children to ‘pass’ if they don’t want to speak;
- Valuing all contributions and not putting anyone down.
During Circle Time, children should sit in a circle, either on the floor or on chairs. Their teacher is part of the circle, too, and while they will direct the activities, they should aim to keep a low profile so children have a chance to speak up.
Often, an object like a large shell, a ball, a rubber egg or a teddy will be passed around the circle. When a child is holding the object, it’s their turn to speak.
Teachers will choose from a range of activities, such as co-operative games, rounds, musical games, drama activities, talking and listening exercises, puppets and masks.
Sometimes, a particular issue that’s affecting the class, school or a pupil is tackled; on other occasions, there may be more general discussions around thoughts and feelings.