Circle Time Through the Years
Circle time in the homeschool (just as in the Waldorf school) is a chance to gather together, begin your learning time with activity, and bring more music and movement into your days. A circle in the nursery looks different than a first grade circle, and a homeschool teacher often has children of multiple ages.
So what does a developmental progression look like for circle time?
Toddlers (ages 1-2)
A toddler doesn’t need a formal circle time of course, just have fun with language, singing, giggles, and connecting!
Lap bounces (Humpty Dumpty; The Noble Duke of York)
Silly games (Peek-a-Boo; This Little Piggie; Pat-a-Cake)
Nursery Rhymes (To Market, To Market; Hickory Dickory Dock)
Songs and finger games (Itsy Bitsy Spider)
Preschool (ages 2-4)
These are good years to start learning more fingerplays and songs for the seasons. It’s also a great time to start adding in songs and verses to guide the rhythms of your day. You can find a time in your daily rhythm for a little circle (inside or outside) or just sing throughout the day. Make a game of it, connect, and have fun!
Big movements (running, marching, crawling)
Move like animals (snake, tiger, rabbit)
Kindergarten (ages 5-6)
Kindergarten can be a lovely time for a more formal circle. Choose a beginning and ending song that stay the same all year round, then choose songs and verses that mirror the seasons. I find that we enjoy circles the most when they have a bit of a storyline and are coherent (not just a jumble of songs on a theme). Think of it as a musical, imaginative game!
Seasonal songs and verses
Big movements (skipping, hopping on one foot, galloping)
Move like animals (frog, polar bear, crab)
First and Second Grades (ages 7-8)
In the grades we can start bringing academic learning into circle and get inspired both by our main lesson content and the seasons. It’s a good time to begin more formal music instruction (teaching recorder through imitation) and active math. You can introduce movement challenges and memorizing/reciting poetry. It’s also a great time to relearn all those nursery rhymes, which are excellent for practice in speech, rhythm, and phonemic awareness. There are so many possibilities!
Seasonal songs, verses, and fingerplays
Movement (balance beam, tossing bean bags, coordinating speech and movement, clapping games, jumping rope)
Third and Fourth Grades (ages 9-10)
Music, movement, and speech continue to be a large part of the curriculum at these ages, but in many families circle time will start to look different. You might like to continue gathering at the start of your school day for singing together, music practice, and active math. There are also many opportunities to bring songs and poetry into main lesson time. If you have younger children in the family, your child could be a leader or helper for their circle time.
Poetry and songs related to main lesson blocks (American folk songs, African-American spirituals, Hebrew festival songs and blessings, Native American music)
Music practice (often continuing with recorder and adding a new instrument as well)
Rounds and 2-part singing/recorder
Movement (balance beam, trampoline, jump rope, ball games)
Fifth Grade and Up (ages 11+)
Daily music and movement is so important for children even as they grow! Homeschooled children in the upper grades might have these as part of main lessons, their daily routine, family life, lessons with outside teachers, homeschool group activities, or in organized sports or music groups.
Continuing with singing, instrument, and music practice at home and/or in the community
Continuing to memorize poems, learn music, and listen to music related to main lesson studies
Movement such as walking, swimming, biking, skating, horseback riding, sports, etc. as a regular part of free time, family life, and outside activities