Friday, January 20, 2012

Circle Time

Two of my favourite people, who happen to be married to each other, live in Stockholm, Sweden, with their two amazing little boys.

One of those boys - we'll call him Nils - has just started daycare, and his mom wrote today to tell me about something called Circle Time. Apparently, Circle Time is a time when all the kids come into the middle of the room and sing songs or talk about colours or shapes.

Nils, who is the calmest, quietest little dude you'll ever meet, has not taken much of a shine to Circle Time, and chooses instead to play on his own. Apparently, the daycare leaders have a problem with this. According to them, Samuel's mom should be "concerned if things don't improve."

Nils is one and a half years old.

I'm wondering what she's supposed to be concerned about. That her son is comfortable enough with himself to do his own thing? That he can enjoy his own company, in world where most people can't sit still long enough to go to the toilet?

In a few years, Nils is going to walk down the main street of any city in the world, and notice how everyone is dressed almost exactly the same. He will watch TV shows and read magazines that tell him and the women he knows how to be "beautiful." He'll find himself at parties where people are blabbing about such boring, surface topics that he'll want to stab himself in the eye with a fork, but will probably feel awkward if he doesn't contribute.

As his mother wrote:
Why is it only when we are well into adulthood that we realize it's okay not to join fucking Circle Time?

I think I still struggle with Circle Time sometimes.


  1. I struggle with it, too. And I think that is a very good thing.

    Loved this post.

  2. "Little boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same." They're trying to get him ready for the business of school and unfortunately mass education does require some assimilation... ideally I agree, but being a teacher in a room of 30 kids where one kid won't join circle time makes it really difficult to actually teach anything, and makes it difficult for the other 29 to learn anything. I think the problem is not that we realize in adulthood we don't have to participate in circle time, it's that adulthood is when we potentially have the freedom not to. But think of the work meetings you have to go to... grown-up circle time. :) Having said that, a year and a half is a bit young to be forcing it with that much concern. You should read Deschooling Society by Ivan Ilich. It's awesome and very much to your point.

  3. Natalie, this is the first thing I read this a.m. and I'm sure it will be the best of the day.
    Now,"Circle time" will forever be a comforting code in my head for not fitting into the pack.
    And of course, I am a little in love with sweet Samuel, too. Funny how the world conspires to ensure that people are not prepared to be alone and then tends to make sure that most of us will be.

  4. I remember circle time. If I was bored with the teacrer I would start my own conversations and try to take over. Come to think of it, I also dothat at work meetings.

  5. Holy morning of awesome comments. Thanks, guys! And LT, I'm pretty sure there are something like 12 kids in this daycare class... but I totally hear your point.