Skip to main content

Going in circles

Circle time - when children are encouraged to speak and listen to each other in turn - can be damaging when used in an ad hoc way without proper training. While it can be an effective tool in skilful hands, many are expected to do it with little training and support, says Dr Hilary Cremin of Oxford Brooks University, a consultant on peer mediation and circle time.

Often children only speak when holding "a talking object" such as a teddy bear. On one occasion, Dr Cremin had seen a teacher "asking children to share how they feel about bullying whilst one child was clearly being bullied in the circle by children who wiped the talking object after she had held it so that they would not get her germs." The teacher was either not confident or was following the session plan too rigidly and not taking account of how the children were responding, she says. The emphasis of circle time should be on positive experiences, congratulations, school life and exploration. It should not be used as "pseudo-therapy".

"The more sophisticated uses of circle time to deal with problems and feelings are highly effective in the right hands, but they need to build on a well-established programme with proper staff training."

'Circle Time: Why it doesn't always work' by Hilary Cremin. Primary Practice No 30, Spring 2002

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you