Circle time is guide /adult initiated in a Montessori classroom.
Some reasons why adults may initiate circle time would be to welcome children on arrival, present lesson on class rules, address right use of materials, show new materials placed on shelf, celebration of life, sing songs , calendar etc.
Montessori believes in observing and following the child’s interest. Since circle time is not held due to the natural desire or curiosity of the child, I feel it should not be a part of the “daily Montessori class schedule. In rare occasions that it is conducted, it should be optional for the child.
Montessori is a mixed age group setting and so it is unrealistic to expect 3 year olds to sit quietly and calm their bodies for long periods of time like the older children in the environment. Again, some children irrespective of their age find it hard to sit still in a restricted space for even a short period of time. When forced to do so, they might end up misbehaving.
Children, who want to continue to work, help around the class, read a book or choose an activity should be continued to do so and not be forced to come to the Circle time.
Some exceptions to hold mandatory circle time would be to bring all children together to address emergency weather or fire drills.
General classroom rules, new works on shelf etc can be shown to the older children in the environment and they can then guide the younger children accordingly. If Circle time needs to be conducted, the most appropriate activities should be child led – like asking them to pick songs to sing; body movement activities to learn body parts, role play etc.
When in doubt about anything in a Montessori classroom , always remember to refer to Maria Montessori’s simple philosophy of “ Follow the child “