Open post

The Circle

Our circles are beginning to change as the seasons do – the materials we bring to our circles range from poetry & puppetry to songs and cooperative games. Ms. Lesley’s circle still opens in French (I think the children would think it strange if she didn’t!) Children are moving to “The Winds”, animating as they go: “The little winds they whisper, they whisper as they pass. They tell their tiny secrets to the flowers and the grass.The big winds go a buffeting and blustering about.The little winds they whisper but the big winds shout!” Not only does this poem allow the children to bring imagery to the winds and to “feel into” them, but it gives them the experience of self-regulation. Ms. Jen is bringing in lantern songs. As we head into darker mornings and shorter days, the idea of a lantern keeping us around a fire together, marks the seasonal changes. She’s singing an old German song: “I go with my bright little lantern, my lantern is going with me. Up high the stars are shining, on earth shines my lantern with me. The light grows dim as we go in la bimba la bimba la bim…” She’ll be making lanterns with your children over the next couple of weeks.
But what is the “circle” really? For teachers, it is a moment in the morning to gather the children and offer them activities that harmonize the group, address movement challenges, offer complex language, and lead the children. This “leading” is important. Children realize, without being told, that they are “following” the teacher; first conscious moments to learn from an adult that is not a parent. We emphasize alternating types of movement, small-motor to gross-motor, speaking to singing, rhythmic movement to lyrical in order to allow each child to experience the effects of this balance, kind of like going to a yoga class and how you feel afterwards!
The “Circle” has existed since humans first became conscious of their needs for each other. It is the center of a village, a school, a ritual. Think about all the childhood rhymes & songs you might know: “Ring around the Rosie…”, “…a tisket-a-tasket, a green and yellow basket…”, “ Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold. A circle is round, it has no end…” These images draw upon the idea of an entire community, a way to interface and do something together with families who are not one’s own. There is a circle at the center of every family too – maybe the dining room table, or the hearth. But that is more a gathering place. A circle invites other in, allows all our differences to fade for a moment while we work & play together. It smooths our conflicts with laughter and brings us materials to lighten our loads (if a child is feeling outed by the group, this brings them back). A circle is the archetype of “community”. It is a way to bring our children together while they learn to listen, rhyme, move in time, sing, and attend to the rules of a new game. Maybe an invitation to every neighbor on our street to drink hot cider, a monthly block-party, a street coop to watch each other’s kids or simply a big yard sale that includes the neighbors, any way to get to know each other. As we expand our connections, our children will too. The messages to them are plenty: the world is a good one, we can help others as they can help us, trust comes out of human connection. And all of this will translate into your child’s confidence in self and the world.