Circle time is a chance to have fun and seize the teachable moments with kids.

How Long Should Circle Time Be for 4-Year-Olds?

by Kathy Gleason

Circle time with a class of 4-year-olds isn't for the faint of heart. It requires planning, a variety of games, books, conversation topics and activities. You need to think on your feet and keep your sense of humor. Often, at the same time. Four-year-olds do have the ability to sit still a bit longer than kids who are even just one year younger, so teachers have more time to spend in circle before preschoolers start getting fidgety.

1. Circle Time

As a general rule, circle time should be about five minutes for each year of age. This means that for 2-year-olds, circle time would be ten minutes, fifteen minutes for 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds can probably sit for twenty minutes, possibly a little less.

2. Length of Circle Time

Children who are almost five may have more of an attention span than children who have just had their fourth birthday. Also, if the preschool class is a special needs or special education class, you may need to shorten circle time or to break it up into several sessions, rather than have a single long session. Kids stuck inside for days on end because of rain or snow may also be more antsy, and they might have a hard time sitting still for circle time.

3. Time Circle Time Correctly

Some preschool teachers begin circle time as soon as the school day begins. If possible, wait a few minutes. Allow kids time to play and run around, if you can. Letting the kids release all that pent-up energy before they sit will help them be calmer during circle time. You don't want a room full of fidgety tots who won't sit still because they didn't burn off bottled up energy. Make sure circle time is early in the day, because, come afternoon, kids will be tired and they'll have difficulty paying attention.

4. Make the Most of Circle Time

To keep kids interested in story time, keep things moving. Alternate quieter activities -- like reading a story or talking about the weather -- with singing a song or dancing along to a CD. Allow circle time to be interactive. Ask the kids what they think will happen next in the story, or ask them if anything new is happening at home, such as a new puppy or kitten, or a new bedroom. If preschoolers feel like they're a part of things, they'll be more engaged.

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