A Special Education Assistant asks:

What do you look for when observing Circle Time in two different preschool classrooms? I just started working as a special education assistant. The ages of children in the classes are 3-5 year olds. One of my goals is to observe two preschool classes.

Miss Cheryl says:

Congratulations on your new position!

It sounds as though you want to get a feel for the routines in the preschool classrooms. I thinking choosing Circle Time is a great way to do this for two reasons:

1. It will help introduce and include you in the most social part of the morning when all the children are gathered together.

2. It will give you the opportunity to see how their day begins.

Pre-Observation Suggestions

1. I would ask the teacher running Circle Time to introduce you. The children love visitors to their classroom and are very curious about them. If you observe but are not introduced, the children will be spending time trying to figure out who you are and may have trouble participating in the Circle Time activities!

2. Keep in mind, the children will act a bit differently because you are there, so some of they behavior may not be typical of how they would act when you are not there. New people and other changes set them off a bit.

Observation Suggestions/Ideas

This start of the day can set the path of preschooler's off in a good way or a not so good way, depending on the activities and amount of time they spend at Circle Time.

I would suggest taking note of the following things:

* Is there a routine (song, phrase, etc.) that signals the children that it is Circle Time?

* How long does Circle Time last (from beginning to end)?

* How many activities are done during Circle Time (Calendar, weather, concept reviews (letter, number, shape of the week, etc.)?

* How long does each activity last?

* Are the activities participatory (or are they activities in which the children listen to information being given)?

* Is there a balance between active and passive activities throughout Circle Time?

* What activity were the children involved in prior to Circle Time?

* What activity do the children typically go to after Circle Time?

Gathering this type of information will help you with observing individual children in these classrooms in the future.

As part of the Special Education team, you may find that many of the future requests from the teachers will involve suspected attention deficits and the time teachers see this most will be during Circle Time.

By observing the items above you will already be familiar with the time involved in Circle Time.

As I stated earlier, this time of day sets the path or tone for the morning. If children are sitting for too long or being presented with too much information during this time, behavior problems can develop or escalate, making it difficult for them to focus.

I've written two articles on Circle Time. One is how to set up a Circle Time area and what to include and the other is about Circle Time in general.

You will find them by clicking the following links:

Goals of Circle Time in Preschool

Circle Time Area in Preschool Article

Again, congratulations on your new position and for being proactive in getting to know the classrooms, teachers and students in the preschool programs!

Are there other areas in Circle Time that YOU think a Special Education Assistant should observe when visiting the preschool classroom? Share your thoughts by commenting below!

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