Each morning begins with the Greeting Circle. Greeting Circle activities encourage children to participate in the Brain Smart® way to start each day which sets the tone for their emotional well-being and challenges them to focus on pro-social skills.
Conscious Discipline rituals are the glue that helps build a connected School Family. Rituals and routines occur day after day, in the same location, at the same time for the same reason--connection.
During Greeting Circle, children follow a 4-step routine that sets the tone for the entire day:
Unite to strengthen the School Family bond
The first step in the Greeting Circle morning routine is an activity designed to unite all members of the class to strengthen the bond of the School Family and develop a sense of belonging.
Calm to disengage the stress response
The second step in the Greeting Circle morning routine is an activity to disengage stress. Children will learn five core calming strategies at the beginning of the year.
S.T.A.R. is the first stress reduction activity introduced in Frog Street Pre-K. Encourage children to gently smile, take a deep belly breath as the tummy goes out, and relax as the air goes out while the tummy goes in. The exhale should be twice as long as the inhale. Remind children to use this calming strategy whenever they are upset.
Have children place their hands on their head and lock their fingers together. Have them breathe in deeply as they raise their hands over their head as if the air they are breathing in is filling up a balloon over their head. Have children sniff in more air and then sniff in more air one more time. Invite them to let the air out as they drop their hands back down to their head. Have them make a “ppppbbbb” sound as the air empties from the pretend balloon. Repeat.
Invite children to hold two bent fingers like bunny ears and straighten them slowly as they take three quick inhales and then one long exhale. Do this again for a total of three times. Use a bunny puppet or stuffed animal as a prop to give children a visual cue of what a bunny might do.
Sing “I Can Be a Pretzel” while performing this sequence of actions. Encourage children to stand or sit as they:
1. Cross one ankle over (or in front of) the other.
2. Extend arms out in front.
3. Cross one wrist over the other wrist, face palms together, and clasp hands together.
4. Bring clasped hands in toward chest, twist them down and toward the body and then up next to chest.
5. Close eyes and breathe.
Have children extend both arms in front of their body parallel to the floor while making a fist with both hands. Tell them to imagine their hands are faucets. Instruct them to tighten their muscles as tight as they can—their hands, arms, neck, shoulders, and face. Then encourage them to exhale slowly while releasing all of their muscles, making a “ssshh” sound as they pretend to release the water in the faucets. Children will end with their hands open and their arms relaxed at their sides. After a few seconds, have them tighten their muscles again and close their fists to stop the water from flowing and then once more release the water and their tension.
Connect to build healthy friendships
The third step in the Greeting Circle morning routine encourages face-to-face interaction with others and involves eye contact, touch, presence, and playfulness as children connect. Connecting activities provide opportunities for children to interact with each other, which builds healthy friendships, increases attention span, and fosters cooperation.
Commit to helping keep the classroom safe
Commitments are the final component of the morning Greeting Circle. Children make a commitment or promise to be a helpful member of the class by focusing on a specific social skill.
The purpose of this commitment is to encourage children to listen attentively when others are talking. This can be a challenge for young children since they have a more difficult time controlling their impulses and actions. Refer to the “Listening Ears” icon to help children focus on listening during appropriate times so that others can share their ideas. This helps to keep the classroom safe because everyone will feel heard and understood.
Have a volunteer or another adult walk from one place in the classroom to another. Demonstrate walking too fast and pretend to bump into someone. Ask: Is that safe or unsafe? Is that helpful or hurtful? Then demonstrate walking safely and around someone. Ask: Is that safe or unsafe? Is that helpful or hurtful? Offering examples of what you mean by “not walking” is also helpful when trying to teach children what is expected when you say “walk.” People walk at different paces. Slow for one person may not be slow for another. Make your pace a safe pace for the classroom and ask children to practice it with you.
Teach children to use an assertive voice to tell others, in a respectful way, how they wish to be treated. Accidental intrusions (falling over another child) and intentional intrusions (taking a toy) happen all the time in the preschool world. Children are learning how to set limits, how to help keep the classroom safe, and how to communicate to others using their “Big Voice.”
If you notice and describe exactly what children do to be helpful, they will more likely be willing to continue this behavior. For example, wiping down tables, sweeping the floors, and setting the table are all helpful and meaningful jobs that children can do to contribute to the class. Notice these helpful acts by saying, for example: You set the table so we could eat together. That was helpful instead of “good job” or “thank you.” Use the same sentence frame each time: “You _____ so ______. That was helpful.” Post pictures of helpful acts around the classroom or place them in a photo album so children have visual examples of what they can do to be helpful.
Tell children that it is your job to keep the classroom safe so children can learn. It is the children’s job to help keep the classroom safe. Tell children that they will help do this by being kind and helpful to each other. Each morning we will remind ourselves of this very important job by doing our Safekeeper Ritual. Show children that you have prepared a craft stick for each child with their picture and name on it. Explain that each morning you will ask children if they are willing to do their job to help keep our School Family safe. If children are willing to help, they will put their stick in the special box. By placing their photo inside the box, children are committing to doing their part to help keep the classroom safe.