Hi there. Noah and I have become story time drop outs. We actually LOVE our local library and can often be found at the train table or putting together a truck puzzle or reading about fire fighters. As Noah plays intensely with the trains he often repeats words he overhears from friends playing nearby. The magical world he is building actually helps him focus on the world around him. Almost like the clicking of a pen or jiggling of the leg when you are reading or writing and really in the zone. Don’t mistake this activity and movement for distraction. This active and physical play is his learning sweet spot. Noah knows the names of almost all construction equipment and trucks, not because he sat in a circle nicely in my lap as a truck book was read aloud, but because we visit construction sites nearby and take our truck books with us as field guides.
So when we happen to be at the library and story-time begins, cue the music for the giant green tarp to cover the train table, to allow children to “focus” on the story time. Cue the music also for the meltdowns of all of the kids engrossed in play at the table. Think of those famous movie scenes where mathematical and scientific geniuses pace the floors as they drum up the next best invention or breakthrough. Imagine if you made these mad scientists sit politely in a circle in order to focus!
I see this specific circle time as a glimmer into a future of the traditional classroom, and associate the giant green tarp as a covering up or dimming of Noah’s creative spark. One that rewards a certain type of learner over another.
A lot of children love this circle time, but from my observations, a lot of child and baby wrangling is required to reign the kiddos back into the circle. Overheard during story hour “Don’t pull books from the shelf. Don’t walk around. Move away from the train table. Don’t yell. Please sit down. Where are you going?” I’m exhausted already!
A lot of children need to move to learn. What do you think? Let’s invite more kids into the circle, by rethinking its boundaries.