In order to create positive behaviors and developmental skills, therapeutic preschool programs create a structured routine for the day. While circle time is a seemingly simple activity, this can help children build important skills. A typical preschool program is designed around children who are typically developing, but a therapeutic preschool program spends more time targeting key developmental skills. Any child can benefit from a therapeutic preschool program, but this type of program is particularly beneficial for children with developmental delays or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who may have challenges meeting developmental milestones.
What is circle time?
During circle time in a therapeutic preschool program, the kiddos will sit in a circle for an activity, such as singing “The Wheels on the Bus” as a group or playing a game. Many programs will implement this as a daily routine.
What skills does circle time develop?
Therapeutic preschool programs work to ensure children are meeting key developmental milestones, and circle time is one strategy to meet these goals. Some of the benefits of circle time (explained below) are establishing social skills, learning to follow a routine, and building attention skills.
When children are engaged in circle time, they are sitting with their classmates and engaging in a common activity. This creates a sense of belonging in the group and can improve self-esteem, as everyone is participating in the activity. The children may also interact with their classmates seated nearby. Many children who are on the autism spectrum struggle with social interactions and do not readily engage their classmates.
Routine and structure
If a child has autism or developmental delays, they may benefit from a highly structured therapeutic preschool program. Many children on the spectrum become upset if they cannot predict what activity comes next. In order to create structure, a therapeutic preschool program should establish a dedicated time for circle time each day. There should also be a set schedule that the team follows every day, in order to create consistency and a reliable structure.
When children are engaged in circle time, there is an expectation that they will stay focused and engaged during the activity. If a child has issues with their attention span, participating in circle time each day can help them to build this skill.
Some children may struggle with participating in circle time, particularly if they have autism or other developmental delays. Do you think a therapeutic preschool program could benefit your child? Contact CST Academy at 773-620-7800 to learn more about our ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and feeding therapy services for children in the Chicago area.