My sons' primary school had Circle Time guru Jenny Mosley running their in-service today. When volunteers were sought from the primary sixes and sevens I persuaded my older son to go in, albeit reluctantly. (He looked a bit skeptical when I said, "You know, she's really famous!") I was lucky enough to get to observe the circle time demonstration.
Jenny has developed the Quality Circle Time model over the past twenty five years. It is "a whole-school approach to enhancing self-esteem and building positive relationships". This afternoon she demonstrated how to encourage and give feedback on good thinking, good listening, good looking and good concentrating. The children were also given the opportunity to ask for help with aspects of behaviour, and to appreciate the suggestions and support of their peers. Active learning using games and a parachute was included, and Jenny also showed how puppets can facilitate discussions around difficult issues without anyone having to feel under the spotlight.
Speech and language therapists writing for Speech & Language Therapy in Practice often mention circle time as one of the opportunities for working with teachers to raise awareness of support strategies for children with speech, language and communication needs. In one short demonstration Jenny could not hope to begin to cover all the nuances of the approach. However, I did find myself wondering how the children that we see would cope with the speed of speaking and level of language comprehension and expressive vocabulary required without significant modification.
The book 'Language Development – Circle Time Sessions to Improve Communication Skills' was written in 2003, and one of the co-authors is speech and language therapist Jackie Lowe. Having looked over Jenny's website, I don't see specific Quality Circle Time resources beyond this, yet there are questions on the discussion forum about including children with severe learning disabilities and autism, as well as those who are bilingual. Perhaps there is an opportunity here for enterprising speech and language therapists?