The Importance of Circle Time in Montessori

Please note: Some images used in this post were taken before the pandemic. Children and staff currently wear face masks and adhere to our COVID-19 Precautions plan.

A Montessori classroom is a busy place to be on a typical morning. Children are engaged in lessons, both self-directed and teacher-lead. They are working, active, and engaged and the time passes quickly. Before you know, it’s Circle Time! The importance of Circle Time in Montessori can not be understated. Circle Time is a key component to the classroom dynamic and building a sense of community among classmates.

What is Circle Time?

Here, at Children’s House, Circle Time takes place at the end of the morning work period and again in the afternoon. It is a period of time in which all the children join the teacher as a group. Circle Time typically lasts between 20 and 30 minutes and is a mixture of routines, traditions, music, movement, conversation, learning, and fun.

At the end of the morning, the teacher invites the class to the Circle Time space with a gentle bell or chime and indicates that work time is ending. The children clean up their work and make their way to the designated area. This is one of many transitions that happen during the day and the classroom will now be prepared for lunch time.

Afternoon Circle Time takes place at the end of the afternoon work period (for older students) and nap time (for younger). We are transitioning from our school day to our aftercare time and some children will be going home soon, while others stay until the later afternoon. Circle Time is the bridge between activities and allows children to anticipate what happens next in their day.

Creating a Sense of Community

Circle Time is a chance to gather together as a class and participate in a variety of activities as a small community. It is a chance for children to share, either in a show-and-tell format or simply conversationally as they wait for the their classmates to clean up and join the circle. It is a chance to look at pictures of a new baby sister or brother, to talk about what happened over the weekend, and an opportunity to raise their hand and tell everyone what their Halloween costume is going to be.

Circle Time is a time to celebrate birthdays and other milestones: a lost tooth, riding a bike without training wheels, or a big first, like a trip on an airplane or moving into a new house. In sharing in each others lives, the class grows closer together and more connected. Even in the midst of a pandemic, with social distancing guidelines and mask-wearing policies in place, Circle Time is a time for togetherness and connection.

Learning Through Group Lessons

Most Montessori lessons, like math and language arts, are meant for an individual child, but some lessons lend themselves to a larger group format. There are many science, geography, and art lessons that can be presented at circle time to the whole class. At Children’s House, these lessons are available to any child, regardless of age, so it’s important that all the children receive the lessons before new materials are added to the shelves.

Geography and science lessons lend themselves to conversation and Circle Time is the perfect time to start this conversation. A teacher might present a new lesson or introduce a new topic, but the follow up conversation over the next few days or even weeks, is where much of the learning takes place.

For example, this fall we have been learning about habitats. The children have had a group lesson at Circle Time on a new material that Ms. Keturah made. They learned about what habitats are, how different animals need different habitats, and how habitats need the same key components in order for animals and plants to thrive: food, water, shelter, and a place to raise young. They sang songs about habitats, read stories about them, and took the lessons outside to work in our school gardens and hike the trail around our property. The Circle Time lesson was just the beginning!

The Role of Each Child

Circle Time is where children learn from each other and work together. Younger students model the behavior of their older classmates and older students love the extra responsibility that comes with being a kindergartener and a leader. The morning Circle Time comes at the end of work time and the preparation for lunch. There are jobs to be done, work to be cleaned up, and a classroom to put back in order. Children help water plants, tidy shelves, and sweep the floor. Everyone works together to make sure the classroom is ready for the next phase of the day.

Traditions and Routine

A regular, predictable routine is so important for young children. A child who can not yet tell time or a read a calendar and does not have much input into their daily schedule, can use routines to navigate their day and know what comes next. Routines give children a sense of control.

Circle Time routines here at Children’s House include choosing and reading a Virtue card together; taking five minutes each day to read the card and repeat the affirmation is a touch point for both children and adults.

Everyone has a favorite Circle Time song, but certain songs are only sung at certain times. The Months of the Year is our birthday song, and Make New Friends But Keep the Old is only sung at the end of the year when we say goodbye to the friends who are leaving for new schools.

And, of course, holiday traditions are some of our favorites! In November we’ll collect non-perishable food for a Thanksgiving Food Drive. In December we’ll make ornaments to decorate our “Mitten Tree” as we collect hats and mittens for children in need. And in February, our Valentine’s celebration is a school-wide favorite; and it all happens at Circle Time.

But, for now, it’s still October! This is the week that we will carve our class pumpkin for Halloween and read some of our favorite Halloween books. It’s time to pull out the well-worn and much-loved CASSETTE TAPE — yes, cassette tape! — of Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman that has been entertaining us — at Circle Time — for many, many years.

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An Authentic Montessori School in the Heart of Reston

There are so many choices available to parents of young children today! A seemingly endless list of daycares, preschools, Montessori schools, and private kindergarten programs are available in the Reston-Herndon area and it can be overwhelming! Families like yours are looking for any number of things: location, class size, a program that fits your needs, but you also want a school that feels right as well! Children’s House Montessori School of Reston checks all the boxes!

Working on the pink tower at Children's House Montessori School of Reston

Children’s House opened its doors to a class of just 10 students in the fall of 2003. Since then, we have served hundreds of families and it is hard to believe, but those little children who joined our school community back then are now students in college!

We have two classes for children ages three to six and each class has approximately twenty students with two or three teachers per class. We follow the Montessori Philosophy, meaning that we adhere to the belief that children learn from their peers and do best in a mixed-age peer grouping. We also believe that the classroom environment should be a dynamic space, filled with movement and stillness, conversation and concentration.

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Circle time at Children's House Montessori School of Reston.

Children begin at the age of three and remain in the same class, with the same peers and teachers, for three years. A sense of “family” is quickly formed in this safe and nurturing environment.

As children progress through the three-year cycle, younger children aspire to imitate the older ones in their work and play, while older children have the opportunity to teach their well-learned skills to the younger ones. The third year, the kindergarten year, brings together all that the children have learned in this unique cycle of learning. Click here to learn more about our kindergarten program.

Language work at Children's House Montessori School of Reston.

Our dynamic learning environment addresses all your child’s developmental needs: social, emotional, cognitive, and physical. Children participate in “group time” activities each day, which foster a feeling of community and encourage cooperation. They receive individual instruction on the materials in the classroom throughout the extended work period.

They spend time outside each day, and younger children spend part of their afternoon in peaceful rest. We create a non-competitive environment where children are always encouraged to do their best. Each child is measured only against his own progress. We encourage children to complete their activities rather than compete with others.

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Sorting and classifying at Children's House Montessori School of Reston.

Children’s House Montessori School of Reston is conveniently located just minutes from Reston Town Center and the Reston-Wiehle Metro station. Schedule a tour with us and see what sets us apart!

Make sure you’re subscribed to our blog to get the latest posts delivered!

We are currently enrolling for the upcoming school year. Click here to book your Virtual Tour.

Questions? Call us at 703-481-6678 or email us through the form below.