Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Baby Doll Circle Time


Another Gift from Becky Bailey, Creator of Conscious Discipline

Fireflies at Baby Doll Circle Time
Miss Melissa sits on the ground and begins singing “Get your baby, get your baby, get your baby, time to play” to the tune of “Oh My Darling Clementine”.  A group of toddlers immediately gravitate towards her and one by one pick a baby out of the basinet.  They clearly already know the routine well as they form a near-perfect circle and sit down with their babies.  Next she leads them in a chorus of “My baby’s in my lap” which leads the children through holding the baby, sitting the baby down and laying the baby down.  The children are clearly deeply engaged with their babies and each activity -- as moving and heart-warming a group love-in as I’ve ever witnessed.  Welcome to Baby Doll Circle Time.
 
Butterflies take their Circle Time Outside
Baby Doll Circle Time is the invention of Becky Bailey, the brain behind Conscious Discipline.  The Little School chose Conscious Discipline as our approach to classroom management because it provides a comprehensive social and emotional curriculum to help children learn how to deal with their own feelings and get along with others.  Dr. Bailey developed Baby Doll Circle Time as a way to offer young children ways to experience themselves as nurturers and connect to their baby dolls in a manner similar to how they relate to parents and other important caregivers.  The goal of Baby Doll Circle Time is to enhance the quality of the relationship between caregivers and children by strengthening attachment, attunement and social play.

Playing Peekaboo with their Babies
Miss Melissa and the toddlers work their way through the prompted activities -- they rock their babies, play peek-a boo, and do several I Love You Rituals.  Another invention of Becky Bailey, I Love You Rituals are delightful interactions and games (usually rhymes with gentle touches or tickles) that can be played with children from infancy through to eight years of age that send a message of unconditional acceptance and love.  As the toddlers coo and tickle their baby dolls, they are intently focused on their own babies with a reverence and focus that is usually reserved for those special moments with their nearest and dearest.  While this is the theory and intention behind Baby Doll Circle Time, it has truly amazed us here at TLS to see it in action. 
 

 
 
One Little School mother began doing I Love You Rituals with her son.  She emailed the school to share her experience:
I started doing I Love You Rituals with my son, then age two, at the recommendation of our teachers as a way address some anxiety he was experiencing at nap time.  At first I was skeptical because we were already doing lots of nursery rhymes and snuggle time, and I wasn't sure how a "ritual" was any different. However, because I was desperate to try something to help him, we chose a couple rituals from the book and started practicing them, whenever I thought about it-- before bed time, putting on shoes, waiting in line at the grocery store, etc.  Very quickly we both began to recognize the rituals as special time.  When he heard the beginning of the rhyme, he'd beam and listen intently, then beg "again, again!"  Soon his teachers were able to use the rituals at nap time to help him feel secure.  I have found them to be a great "reset button" to get my son's attention and reconnect when I need for him to cooperate or calm down.  It's amazing how just a few moments of being silly together can change both of our moods.  The ritual is familiar, comforting, and reminds us of the history we've created of giggles and hugs.

When this boy was participating in Baby Doll Circle Time and the I Love You Ritual he and his mom do together was guided, he just lit up.  He was so thrilled to know exactly what to do and showed his baby the same love and attention that had been shown to him so many times. 
 Another wonderful benefit we've experienced with the introduction of Baby Doll Circle Time is that the children begin to treat each other with the same warmth and caring they have learned with their dolls.  They now realize they are capable of comforting another and without prompting extend their affection to one another.  It becomes a common fixture in these rooms for children to cover their friends at naptime, pat their backs, and initiate a favorite “I Love You Ritual” with a special friend.

Friends do "Round and Round the Garden" - a favorite I Love You Ritual
 

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