Thinking Outside the Circle

Reconsidering and Rebuilding Group Time


Why do we offer group times in early childhood programs? How do group times respond to children’s developmental needs and their own internal motivation? What is the best way to think about group times, and how can we set them up to provide ideal learning experiences?


This workshop will survey the developmental and educational value, and also some of the challenges, of “circle time.” It will break out the various components of group time – transition, discussion, self-expression, regulation, music, language and literacy, and movement – to give participants a framework and detailed strategies for planning balanced, effective group learning that makes group times joyous, collaborative, educational, and fun for all for. Participants will have an opportunity to reflect on any mixed feelings they have about leading groups and will be guided to learn to love the challenge. Participants will learn:


  • the developmental and teaching value of group times;

  • guidelines for setting up group time as a response to children’s interest;

  • strategies for transitions, sequences, and management of group times; and

  • curriculum tips for different ages – and even a few new songs, rhymes and games!