Q: What do I do at Circle meetings with the kids?
A: It's important to note that there are two kinds of Circle meetings, those with the focus child in attendance, and those with just peers. In the beginning, approximately half of the meetings should include only the peers. The purpose of these meetings is to teach them about the focus student. If the child has a specific disability, for example autism, you could use age appropriate books and videos to teach them about the condition so they may better understand the focus child. Teach peers a conversation model and show them how to engage the focus child. Ask them how things are going. Discuss issues that arise during interactions with the focus child (and they will!), providing them ideas on ways to handle them. Once you develop a cohesive group and the peers have a way to communicate and troubleshoot with you as the need arises, you may find you do not need so many peer only meetings.
The second type of meetings have the focus child in attendance. Some meetings are meant to be fun social times, so you can play games, have snacks, take a walk around school, play a game in the gym, go on a scavenger hunt, have a Youtube video contest...anything the children would enjoy. Other meetings should have social skill lesson components based on the needs of the focus students. For example, if students were struggling with appropriate social media use, a facilitator might teach a lesson on that topic at one of the meetings. There are ideas facilitators have shared in the 'Ideas and Resources' and 'Success Stories' on the CoF virtual community share site. There are also meeting ideas in the book, With Open Arms
Click here for examples of meeting and activity schedules:
Q: Do I have to do out of school activities with my Circle?
A: Some facilitators choose to do this, but it's not required and completely up to the facilitator. Some facilitators choose to do entirely school based activities such as social lunches, games at recess, or perhaps a home sporting event. Others may lead off campus outings. That's entirely up to the individual(s) leading the Circles. The main reason to have a Circle is to promote positive social interactions and practice social skills. This can be done both on or off campus.