Just for Teachers: The Magic of Circle Time

Learning is all about relationships!

There is something timeless and elemental about humans gathering in circles (think campfires and folk dances)! In circles, people talk, listen, tell stories, solve problems, take turns, celebrate, support one another, learn…and much more.  

When it comes to school readiness, classroom circle time is a powerful way to anchor children in a sense of community and belonging, and it’s an equally great opportunity for subject-area learning. Circle time is a place and time in which children learn to listen, empathize, understand others’ perspectives, take turns, and share of themselves—all key to thriving in school and in life. When you gather children in a circle, you’re creating a space in which everyone can be seen and heard, and everyone is on an equal level.  

Of course, there are many other shared spaces and places in a school or childcare setting where children learn to build social-emotional skills and healthy relationships with peers—with children of different ages, and with adults. These relationships happen one on one, in dyads, in small groups, and large groups, and within formal and informal settings. And it’s not just social-emotional learning that happens in relationships, of course, it’s academic learning.  

No one is born in a silo or exists in a vacuum. Every interaction children have with others leads to brain growth—there’s always a back and forth that’s taking place in learning! Your circle time is full of these growth opportunities.  

Special Thanks 

  • Melissa Butler, author and educator 
  • Mary Kay Mahar, Senior Director, Early Learning and Prevention Systems, Public Health Management Corporation.  
  • David Willis Senior Fellow CSSP (Center for the Study of Social Policy)  
  • Zoraima Rosario-Rolón, Program Coordinator of C.A.R.E, Coaching and Responsive Engagement Program 
  • Dana Winters, Executive Director of Fred Rogers Institute 

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