Planning a routine in a therapeutic preschool program can be a difficult task. There is a great diversity of learners in any classroom, and this is especially true in a therapeutic program where many children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing issues, or other developmental delays. One activity that benefits nearly all children in a therapeutic preschool program is circle time.
Circle time in a therapeutic preschool program
During circle time, the therapeutic preschool program teachers will gather the children in the class to sit in a circle and engage in an activity, such as a game or sing-along. There are many components involved in circle time: transitioning from the previous activity, moving to the circle, sitting in the circle, paying attention to the teacher, and participating in the activity. For children with autism or other developmental delays, the combination of these tasks can be extremely challenging. As a result, a therapeutic preschool program might provide additional support during circle time (e.g. have classroom aids or behavior technicians), in order for all children to receive the benefits of the activity.
Benefits of circle time
Social skills: Social skills are extremely important for young children to develop before entering kindergarten, but they do not always come easily. This is especially true for children on the spectrum or who have other developmental delays. As a result, a therapeutic preschool program may emphasize social skills during circle time by creating opportunities for children to engage in conversation with their classmates (e.g. by playing a game with each other or singing a song together).
Self-esteem: When children are included in circle time, they are included in the classroom community. This inclusion can create a sense of belonging in the classroom, which can also improve self-esteem.
Language: There are various aspects of language that circle time can improve. When children participate in circle time, they expand their receptive language skills by learning to follow instructions from their teacher and listen to their classmates who are speaking. By engaging in circle time discussions, children are also building their expressive language skills.
Learning: In a therapeutic preschool program, teachers might use circle time as an opportunity to teach new skills to their students.
There are many other benefits of circle time, making it a great addition to the schedules in therapeutic preschool programs.
At CST Academy, we work circle time into our daily routines, as this is a great way to teach important developmental skills to our kiddos. Our program also incorporates ABA therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and feeding therapy techniques to address a range of needs for all children. Contact us at 773-620-7800 to learn more about the program and schedule a free tour!