|From Clipart Panda: Circle Time|
"No, no. I'm not reading the next page until every single one of you is sitting quietly with folded hands. I'm waiting. I'm still waiting."A Joke
- the kind of person who thinks its okayto keep a bird in a cage and is stillallowed to work with children
Kid One: What's the difference between 'circle time' and 'jail time'?
Kid Two: I don't know. What?
Kid One: I don't know either.
I think, even before I knew better, I always hated circle time. I also think I will never again be invited to work in the field of organized early childhood education. Sure, okay, whatever.
The other day we were doing our weekly gig at a community library's children's corner. My co-worker was prepping to read about pirates, and I was vaguely sorting out SRC paperwork so I could up-date kids' numbers of books read. A boy asked if we could get the plastic chess set down from the tallest shelf. Sure, okay, whatever. But they were called out for sitting down to play where we were going to read; called out with that particular tone that shows up when one adult thinks another adult is going to complain about what their kids are doing now. The kids complained back (good for them) and were forbidden to play chess at all. Christ. I swept my papers to one half of the little cafe-style table I was sitting at and told them to set up their game there. Nobody yelled at me (I'm an old man) and the game proceeded, in a rickety sort of way, as the reading commenced. Pretty soon, the corner was full of the sort of talky-touchy happy kid chaos that tends to stress out big people, but is entirely familiar to us at this point - we having spent hundreds of hours reading
|A 2003 storytent|
** This one. The publisher says it's for ages 1 to 4.
Which brings me to this: we do have Rules for reading time. Way big Rules that we make a real fuss about. One of them is that anybody, of any age or gender, gets to read or have read to them any book they want without editorial comment. We believe that kids know what they can read or can learn to read; and also what they want to have help with, or have read to them. We also believe that nobody learns unless they first feel safe.
The following abridgment is from our increasingly outdated Storytent Manual (2006):
Any child who enters the tent voluntarily is telling us that they think the storytent holds something of value for them. If we start right away to create a positive relationship, we can discover what that something is. Once we find out what each person wants from the storytent, we can begin to build a scaffold for them. A scaffold is something that lets someone reach higher or further then they can alone.
Storytent is a place where people read. It needs to be full of a range of wonderful books about all sorts of things. Children are free to pick any books they want to read or look through on their own. In the Storytent, children's reading is not criticized. We wait to be asked before supplying a word or correcting an error. Also, we would never make negative comments about a choice of book. However, we would tell a child about a book that we thought matched their interest and reading level.
We do not require children to sit still or silently while we read. If children choose a book that is too long for one sitting, we negotiate: “I’ll read you one chapter of that today. Then you can borrow it, or we can save it and read another chapter next time.”
In the Storytent program, children decide themselves if they want to learn to read, and when they have become readers. They decide for themselves if they are "good" readers. They decide for themselves if they are happy with a book, with the storytent, or with themselves. In this sense there is no failure, no falling behind the crowd. We believe that this self-monitoring plays an important part in the positive shift in many children's perceptions of themselves as readers.
Storytents work best when workers are alert to opportunities and show the kind of flexibility necessary for any successful learner-centered, whole language program. Guided reading, reading to, and shared reading often blend into one another in the storytent. Having multiple copies of crowd-pleasers like Munsch favourites Mortimer or Stephanie’s Ponytail allow children to join in or follow along when a worker reads to a group: this is an example of how "reading to" can become "shared reading". Being flexible also provides for moments of direct instruction, as when, one time, a child snuggled into some shared reading of Blue Hat Green Hat suddenly stopped ‘reading’ the pictures and demanded of the worker, “What are all these letters doing on the page?”
|A 2004 storytent|