Our “circle times” at Frog Hollow have changed dramatically since we started to think about promoting a Culture of Collaboration in our children’s programs.
Traditionally, our circle time has been very adult-oriented. It was a time when the educators shared what they wanted children to learn, reading them a book or singing a song that they had decided was best fitting. Even when asking for children’s opinions for choices, the nature of communication during circle time was directed one way: from the educators to the children. When we reflected on circle time in 2016, we realized that it wasn’t encouraging a sense of collaboration. Children didn’t play an active part in listening to each other or giving each other feedback. They would listen to the educator and respond to the educator as required. They wouldn’t direct their questions or comments to other children, and didn’t share ideas freely.
Since then, we have changed our circle times to “meeting time”. Educators have taken a role of a facilitator in these meetings. Rather than “running” the meeting, they start conversations and encourage collaboration between children by asking meaningful questions or reminding children of their past conversations.
Our meeting times have become a time for children and adults to sit together, share their experiences and theories, negotiate ideas and sometimes plan for future.
The following are some examples of our meetings:
Nootka School Age children discussing how nature communicates
Michael (10 years old): Earth doesn't have a brain...
Louella (6 years old): Does the Earth have a brain?
Nora (6 years old): Of course it does!
Iyebah (5 years old): Yeah
Michael (10 years old): It doesn't have a brain; it has a mind though
Grace (6 years old) A mind is a brain
Rachel (11 years old): It has an atmosphere
Louella (6 years old): A mind of learning
Michael (10 years old): It just does it naturally
3–5 Satellite Children Sharing at Meeting Time
Kidsworld School Age children comparing communities and neighbourhoods
K & J: Well [community] is kind of a neighbourhood.
Mike: What is a neighbourhood?
K: There are house beside you. You are sharing a space, you have people around you so you are not alone when you feel sad.
J: It’s like a small street. Like if there is a bully and a victim and someone who stands against the bully but even then they come together and then the neighbourhood becomes a community.
Mike: Can you explain more?
J: It’s so inviting that everyone comes to it, like Frog Hollow how people come together. Eventually the bully and the victim and the person that stands against the bully put their differences aside and come together.
So a neighbourhood is a street and houses and something that is inviting but a community is a school and something like Frog Hollow, a market something that everyone needs, even fresh water on a mountain.
K: community is a little bigger and welcoming but neighbourhoods are smaller, they have houses. Community has things you don’t need like maybe only sometimes you needs them. Community is also coming together and telling stories.
J: Yes! Like First Nations, they dance and tell stories. They have families that share long houses.
K: And the grandparents tell stories to the parents and the parents tell them to the kids and stories were shared.
J: Yeah, it’s so cool!
M: I like the neighbourhood because they care about each other.
K: In a neighbourhood you can invite people to the neighbourhood to come and we can play more. Because if I live in North Van and someone lives in Vancouver then we can meet up.
Mike: So the separate neighbourhoods meet together as a community?
M: Like KidsWorld is a place for everyone in community to have fun and share.
J: KidsWorld is both a neighbourhood and community.