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Who are we doing it for?

Maybe if we approach each child, each group of children, as an unknown entity, we will be inspired to discover the infinite possibilities that exist for the temporal organization of early childhood spaces.  Kathleen Kummen

A group of 3 year olds sit on the carpet happily wiggling. There is joy in the movement and, as if they were all puppets connected by one string, they bounce and toss and shake. One shouts with the beauty of this connected communal dance and everyone joins in. Now all are shouting and bouncing, all are smiling and yelling and jumping. It is a happy mess of chaos.

The difficulty is that this is supposed to be circle time, where songs are sung, books are read, rhymes are chanted. The educator and I look at one another, and shake our head. Neither of us can bring order to this.

So here’s the obvious question; who is circle time for? It’s a question that keeps raising it’s controversial head with ECEs I talk with. Who are the routines for? Why do we have this regular schedule that dictates our day with children?

Educators I’ve been talking with are conflicted: the idea of particular routines and practices are so embedded that we can hardly conceive of doing things differently even when all evidence in front of us tells us that change is warranted. Do we really want to wrestle kids down so that we can tell a story? Do we really need to interrupt a fantastic dramatic play because the clock says it is time to tidy up? Do we want to shut down  a big outdoor game of ‘trucks going to work’ because it’s time to play inside?

Who are doing it for?

About Kim

Kim is an admitted ECE geek. She and Danielle have bonded over their shared geekdom and have come to terms with it. She is a pedagogical facilitator working with educators in a number of early learning settings supporting and extending new thinking and practice. She loves reading, writing, talking and sharing ideas about the potentials of teaching and learning with ece's and young children. ECE geeks unite!

4 thoughts on “Who are we doing it for?

  1. This so resonates with me. I have often wondered what would happen if I allowed that wriggling, shouting, chaotic mass of joyful childhood to continue…until it stopped… of it’s own accord as surely it must? I know sometimes that starting to sing a favourite song can gradually draw the children back to a more harmonious place. I also know that circle time is something I try to keep to as short a time as possible; a gathering together ready for going home. But then sometimes a child will complain that they had things that they wanted to show and now there is no time left. Perhaps taking a leaf from dear teacher tom and asking the children what they would like circle time to be would be a good idea….and also allowing those that do not want to join in to carry on with their chosen tasks. Thank you for your inspiration.

  2. So interesting to me how these common threads run through so many of our programs and our thinking! A couple of ECEs I’ve been working with are really challenging the idea of circle time… it more about adult expectations than about what children want? Can we be a ‘good’ ECE and not do circle time? Does every group of children need circle time? Or do some groups just want to play more? As you say asking children what they want from circle time is a great idea, as is making it optional. I think kids are completely capable of deciding what works for them, perhaps we just need to structure it so they have a choice. Parent expectation also comes in to this, as ECEs we need to be able to communicate why we are allowing these choices. Thanks for your thoughtful response Elspeth, I’d love to hear more on what changes you might be making!

  3. Hi Kim,
    Simple answer, NO! We don’t have to, we choose to! Maybe it’s time to make different choices and keep the question “Who are we doing this for?” foremost in our minds; because if we are being perfectly honest the reason we make most of our guidance and routine choices is for ourselves and what is easiest for us. Is it better? I don’t always think so. We do have such a wicked time of it giving up our power, don’t we? Lovely post Kim and thoughtful response, Elspeth. Roz

    1. Hi Roz,
      You are so right, giving up our power and moving to a place of uncertainty is a difficult thing. It’s a risk!! But from my experience if we trust the kids it will all be ok.
      Thanks for looking us up!

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