Circle Times, School Closures and Total Disruption

Amidst the anxiety, total disruption and partial or complete school closures, it was really good last week to hear from several schools that they have been using Circle Times quite intensively to help children through these troubling times. As we know, for some, school is their steady rock providing a meal, safe adults, mental stimulation and emotional security. When the world outside starts to feel unsettled, this can throw already troubled minds into deepening chaos. Psychologists are saying that children need to talk about what is going on to help them process it all and talking helps them not to bottle things up. We saw this clip on BBC1 Breakfast discussing how Circle Time has been used every day in a Bristol school to help children with the current school uncertainties and the impending school partial closures. During the past few months, we have heard many times how Circle Time has helped schools through troubling issues and disrupted circumstances. We recently received this important write-up of how circle times helped to soothe the adults and children in Chile. The school described below is one that I have trained in many times and, fortunately, they already had circle time embedded within their school culture so they could readily turn to this as a resource when needed. Please note, what really made me happy is that they also used circle time for all the adults. At present, the only other school that I know of that has built adult circle time in weekly is my Gold Award School Watercliffe Meadow in Sheffield.

The convulsions here were deeply felt and we had an emotional few days without school as looting, burning and fighting were the order of the day in central Santiago and other cities. Police were overwhelmed. Nothing like my years in Northern Ireland ‘midst shooting and bombing, but very unnerving. No supermarkets, small shops burnt out and an air of chaos and doom prevailed. The transport system collapsed entirely. 

In the following week we had two days with staff to engage in circle times and reflect upon our own emotional responses to the great uncertainty and stress caused by the disruption, curfew and army on the streets. In Chile this stirred deep emotional memories.

Then we welcomed children back and circle times were had at all levels to enable PK to 4th Media pupils to express their feelings and recount experiences. Thank you so much for giving us this methodology, without which people would have been so, so lost. Smiles and laughter were engendered in the groups.” Freddie Russell-King, Chair, Education Committee, Association of British Schools in Chile.

Interestingly, I too worked with schools in Northern Ireland and wrote resources to help Heads and teachers there. So, I was thinking how I could help when schools re-start after the break and we are working hard to produce online resources. I know at the moment this feels like it’s a long way off but doing something positive to help us to be more being prepared for that day might just bring us some peace of mind now. So do watch this space! Do also join us on Facebook – we have shared some lovely online resources including virtual gallery tours, virtual field trips and free downloadable resources for children. With love, Jenny   Website Editor’s Notes
  1. Jenny will be writing half a term circle time plans for when the schools start back up and are working hard to get our training online.