• Focus your attention and encouragement on the children who are behaving appro-
priately. Say things like “Thank you, Sam, for looking right at me. It lets me know
that you’re listening.”
• Give no or little attention to problematic behaviors, but if they continue or esca-
late, then intervene.

• Remind the children again of rules.

• During group games, give children opportunities to be the “teacher” and decide
what the group should do. For example, a child can decide which body part every-
one should shake during “Hokey Pokey.”
• Whenever possible, give children opportunities to talk and move in appropriate
ways. Involve them actively during the circle. For example, invite the children to
take turns holding the book being read. For well-known stories, leave off the ends
of some sentences for the children to finish. Ask questions occasionally to give
children opportunities to talk.

Can’t sit still
• For a variety of reasons, some children cannot sit still for more than a few seconds.

For these children, provide an alternative quiet activity, such as doing puzzles or
drawing at a nearby table, where they will not distract the circle but will be able
to see and hear the circle time activities. They are always free to rejoin the circle
at any time. This is not a punishment or a reward, but recognition of the different
needs of the children. If they were able to exercise control, they would. If other
children want to do this other activity also, explain that the child is choosing
another activity because sitting quietly is difficult for her at this time, although
she will get better at it. Tell the children who can sit still that they are able to sit
and listen well and that you appreciate their participation in circle/group.

• For some active children, sitting on an adult’s lap during circle will provide the
comfort and physical boundaries influence they need to be calm.

• Let the children who cannot sit still start the circle with the others, but when they
are close to reaching their limit, give them the choice of listening a little longer or
doing alternative quiet activities. The time they are able to stay in the circle should
gradually increase if you are also working on the root cause of the problem. (See
“Perpetual(ly in) Motion” on pp. 191–94 for more suggestions about children who
are active and distracted/attracted.)
• If a child is still disruptive to the group, even while involved in another activity,
then another adult (who is not leading the circle/group) should calmly guide him
to a place where he can be involved in a quiet activity. The adult should stay with
him but give him minimal attention. Tell the child that he can return to the activ-
ity or the circle when he is ready to listen. Give the child lots of encouragement
when he does return and is calm for even a few seconds. Say something like the
following: “I can tell that you’re really listening because you’re quiet. That’s very
kind because now everyone can hear.”
Circle Time and Group Time: All for One and One for All
• 21

Interruptions directed to the teacher
• Ignore the first interruption (unless the child needs to use the toilet or has some
other urgent need). If the child interrupts again, he will likely keep interrupting
until you respond. Act on the second interruption. (Usually it will be a request like
“Will you tie my shoe?” or “Can I get a drink of water?”) Tell the child that you are
very interested in what he has to say but that he must wait until the end of circle/
group time. If the child interrupts again, signal by nodding your head to another
adult to help the child with his needs. Go back to the activity quickly.

• Keep a mental note of the nature of the distraction. At a later time, talk with the child
about what he may be able to do differently the next time so as not to interrupt.

• Some interruptions are great learning opportunities. They should be allowed, and
you should follow through on them. For example, if a child complains that another
child hit him, use the conflict resolution strategies discussed in “Problematic
Behaviors” that starts on page 173. All the children will be interested and will
learn from the experience.

When “show-and-tell” does not go well
The purposes of show-and-tell are for children to make a connection between home and
school, to practice speaking in front of a group and communicating clearly, and to share some-
thing personal to help everyone get to know each other better. There is, however, a tendency
for show-and-tell to go on too long and to be a bit chaotic, in part because the children who
are not sharing are disengaged from the activity. Sharing commercial toys creates a number of
problems as well, so try to find alternatives to meet the goals of show-and-tell.

• Limit the number of children who share during show-and-tell by assigning
some to share only on Monday, others on Tuesday, and so on. To keep the time
appro­priately short, consider doing show-and-tell in small groups or in two
groups simultaneously. • As an alternative to sharing a toy or object, suggest that children share family ex-
periences using photographs from family trips or special events. They can also use
photos to tell about their pets; bring in something that they or a family member
have made at home or an interesting found object such as an unusual stone; or
share a favorite book or song from home, or something similar. Sharing themselves
rather than things helps children who have no item to share and makes for more
personal, meaningful sharing.

• Involve all the children in this activity by making sure the child who is talking
speaks to the other children, not to you. Encourage the other children to ask ques-
tions of the child who is sharing. Place yourself behind the child to facilitate this.

• A variation on show-and-tell is to have the children bring their items in bags so
that the other children can try to guess what they are. They ask questions and get
cues from the size and shape of the item in the bag. The child who is sharing can
give hints, with adult help as needed. The hints can be physical, such as shaking
the bag and tapping the object, or verbal such as “I found it on a beach” or “It fell
from a tree” or “It has a picture of an elephant on the front.”
22 • Part 1