What is Circle Time in a Waldorf-inspired classroom?

lessonsfromtheschoolhouse Jul 08, 2021

Circle time is present in every Waldorf class I have visited and seems foundational to the educational model. But what is circle time and why do we do it?

In this video, I will paint a picture of what circle time looked like in my early childhood classroom and then share the benefits of circle time. This video is for you if you are a teacher or parent who is curious about circle time and considering adding a circle time to your daily rhythm. You will walk away from this video having a better idea of of the benefits of circle time and what circle time could look like in your classroom. 

To see an example of a real Waldorf kindergarten circle time, check out this video from the City School of Los Angeles.

If you are a Storytime Member, you will see this is different than what I do for Storytime in the Schoolhouse. I am seated for "circle time" during Storytime. When I am live with the children, circle time is much more movement-oriented. The songs and verses and finger motions, however, remain the same.

I will share more in the coming weeks of how to create a circle time, including the format I use to create our circle times for Little Round Schoolhouse. 



Hi, my name is Becca Lane. This is our next video in our series, Lessons from the Schoolhouse, where I share with you ways to bring the simplicity, magic and joy of the schoolhouse into your home. In today's video, I'm going to be talking about circle time. Circle time at its most basic sense; I'm going to share with you exactly what a circle time is, paint a picture of what it looks like, and then share why we do circle times; what are the intentions and the benefits of this part of our day. 


This video is for you if you are a teacher or a parent, who was interested in learning more about what circle time looks like in a Waldorf-inspired classroom, especially if you are considering bringing this into your day. You will walk away from this video with a better understanding of why we have circle time. And you'll know whether or not it's something you want to add to your day; whether it's your school or program or home. 


So let's dive in. What is circle time? Now I'm talking specifically about a circle time that you would find in a Waldorf inspired classroom. These are not circle times where we sit down and talk about the calendar or tell stories. They look a little different. Let me paint a picture for you of what that looks like. 


During circle time, in my classroom, the children know it's time for circle because it happens at the same time every day. And because they are called to the circle with a song


[Sung] Let us form a ring, dancing as they sing.


And as soon as they hear that--because they have consistently heard that at the beginning of circle time for a while--they know it's time to come together. And we come together in an actual circle, the children and the teachers. The teacher leads circle time and the children follow. And circle time is more like a story full of movement and song and poems. 


So we come together, when are certain verses sung, then we have the same opening poem we say every circle time to start us. And we have a different poem we say at the end of circle time to close our circle. And those two are always the same. 


The children are there standing with the teacher, and they start to sing songs. And as they sing, they may move their bodies hopping or jumping around the circle. They may do big motions, or they may do smaller, quieter motions. They may stop all together and recite poetry. Circle time happens the same way every day but the songs that are included change. 


I hope this gives you an idea of what it looks like when children come together for circle time. After the closing verse of circle in my program, we would leave and go inside and wash our hands and prep our meal together. And they always knew that was going to happen as soon as circle time was over. It was an important part of our day. 


But why is it that we do this? The father of Waldorf education, Rudolf Steiner, he actually didn't have anything to say about circle time, this was not something he created. He did talk about the importance of ring games, as he called them--times when students would come together and they would do certain games that were focused on a movement or speech or rhythm. And they use these as a way to learn the material. Circle time developed as an American response to Waldorf education. It has become a foundation in the classroom and you will see it in almost all Waldorf classrooms and all ages; early childhood up through high school. They may last five minutes or 20 minutes. 


In early childhood, our circle times are focused on movement and song as I just mentioned before. Why do we do this though? What is the point and the reason and to me? The biggest reason is community connection in the classroom. When we start our day with this time to sing together and move together as one group, it really does connect us. And I find that that helps through the rest of the day. Whether you're in a classroom or a program or at home, it's a lovely way to connect a group to begin your day together with some intention. And circle time also gives us time to learn things like poetry, to practice reciting poetry, and then memorization and resuscitation of poems and stories and songs. It serves children well and lays a foundation for later academic learning. circle time also gives us a time to work on our rhythm. And we do that through singing and moving. In my other favorite thing about circle time is that it is a time to learn songs. It's a time to share songs about the seasons, songs about our days together. And there are songs I hear the children singing all day long, outside of circle time, circle time also gives us a time for intentional movement. And we know that moving our bodies in certain ways from the larger gross body movements, to the smaller fine motor movements, that those things help to create connections in our brain and our children's brain that also lay the foundation for academic work. So there you have it, a little glimpse into what a circle time looks like. Why it is that we have these in our classroom and some of the benefits for the children. I hope this has helped you if you are new to Waldorf education and new to circle time, and that hearing this information will help you decide if this is something you want to add to your day.The next video I do for you will be about how I create circle time and I'll give you a format for doing so. So stay tuned for that. And please reach out with any questions.


Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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