CIRCLE TIME/MORNING TIME
At school, circle time is a major part of the day. The weather, and attendance is done at this time. Shapes, colors, alphabet letters and numbers are reviewed during Circle also. Most importantly, the calendar and schedule of the day is reviewed with the students. This is important for many reasons. It allows the students to know what to expect that day and look forward to. Looking forward to something allows the student to form connections. Schedules and calendars create security, consistency and routine. It takes away anxiety and a feeling of being lost. The schedule also allows for students to know of any unexpected changes in routine. Schedules also help the students have control in their lives and possibly forming their own schedules at their homes and personal lives. In addition, schedules should have a finished spot, tray or box to indicate to the student that an activity(s) is done or complete.
The Calendar teaches time, days of the week and months. It also teaches that there are 28-31 days in a month. Students also see that they have school Monday through Friday and no school on weekends and holidays. They will see that they have certain activities on some days and not the other days.
A calendar and a schedule can be used at home. The calendar can show what’s going to happen that week or month (depending on the person’s cognitive level). The schedule can show what will happen during that day. Depending on the person’s cognitive level, objects, tactile symbols, photographs or Boardmaker pictures can be used. A schedule also helps the person with special needs have structure, routine and consistency.In ahaparenting.com, here are six benefits of using routine with children at home. This can be adapted for school as well.
Six Benefits of Using Routines with Your Kids
1. Routines eliminate power struggles because you aren’t bossing them around. This activity (brushing teeth, napping, turning off the TV to come to dinner) is just what we do at this time of day. The parent stops being the bad guy, and nagging is greatly reduced.
2. Routines help kids cooperate by reducing stress and anxiety for everyone. We all know what comes next, we get fair warning for transitions, and no one feels pushed around, or like parents are being arbitrary.
3. Routines help kids learn to take charge of their own activities. Over time, kids learn to brush their teeth, pack their backpacks, etc., without constant reminders. Kids love being in charge of themselves. This feeling increases their sense of mastery and competence. Kids who feel more independent and in charge of themselves have less need to rebel and be oppositional.
4. Kids learn the concept of “looking forward” to things they enjoy, which is an important part of making a happy accommodation with the demands of a schedule. He may want to go to the playground now, but he can learn that we always go to the playground in the afternoon, and he can look forward to it then.
5. Regular routines help kids get on a schedule, so that they fall asleep more easily at night.
6. Routines help parents build in those precious connection moments.We all know we need to connect with our children every day, but when our focus is on moving kids through the schedule to get them to bed, we miss out on opportunities to connect. If we build little connection rituals into our routine, they become habit. Try a snuggle with each child when you first see them in the morning, or a “recognition” ritual when you’re first reunited: “I see you with those beautiful gray eyes that I love so much!” or a naming ritual as you dry him after the bath: “Let’s dry your toes…your calf…your knee…your thigh….your penis….your belly …” Rituals like these slow you down and connect you on a visceral level with your child, and if you do them as just “part of the routine” they build security as well as connection and cooperation.
7. Schedules help parents maintain consistency in expectations. If everything is a fight, parents end up settling: more TV, skip brushing teeth for tonight, etc. With a routine, parents are more likely to stick to healthy expectations for everyone in the family, because that’s just the way we do things in our household. The result: a family with healthy habits, where everything runs more smoothly!
Below, you’ll see both the Boardmaker pictures and object symbols for the seasons and weather. Depending on the level of the students, you can use the pictures for the students who are slightly higher cognitively and the object symbols for the students who will benefit from the concrete symbols.
Below are some things used during Morning Circle. The school bus with Velcro is used for attendance. The students pictures are velcroed to the windows of the bus if they are in school. You will also see object symbols for the different seasons and weather and the Boardmaker pictures for students who are cognitively higher. Furthermore, below the season and weather symbols is the schedule boxed object system. In this schedule system are the activities for the students for that specific day. Below are the object symbols for morning circle (tambourine), bus (arrival of morning bus), PT (PT mat symbol), lesson (gluestick) and spoon (eat). You will also see the object symbols for the various specialists like music, OT (occupational therapy), PT (physical therapy), speech, and vision (watch). In the last row are pictures are the review of the what is covered at Circle that day (Month, day, weather and season and on the other side are the students present that day). Below is also a board showing the days of the week done by the vision specialist (Diane Redmond). She put the braille on for the students with visual limitations and has a tactile fabric for the beginning letter of each word. Also, the “all done” picture symbol is important to include in schedules . It allows for the students to know what is complete or done for the day and what activities are left. There is also a board showing the letter of the week, number of the month and color of the month.