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How to Effectively Group Preschoolers for Small Group

group preschoolers for small group

Welcome to the Preschool Small Group Series! Today is all about how to group preschoolers for small group.

Check out the post from Day 1: 5 Reasons to Have Preschool Small Group

One of the biggest obstacles when planning for preschool small group is figuring out your groups.

Once you start planning, questions start festering up, like…

-What is my criteria for breaking students into groups?

-How many students should go in each group?

-How long does a student stay in a group?

-How should I refer to my groups?

details… so many details!

Creating Groups…

If the purpose for small group is to help children gain skills they are missing then we have to do one thing first… assessment.

>>Assessments or Observations tell us (for the most part) what a child does and does not know at that specific moment in time. When we know, what they don’t know, then we now know how to group. – holy moly that was a lot of ‘know’s!

So, start cross-referencing assessments. Can you make a group of at least 2 students that all need help with the same skill set? If so, you’ve got a group!

How many in a group?

Since we are talking about ‘small’ groups – my recommendations would be no more than 5 students. Three to Five being ideal. 

Have more than five students that all need help with the same skill? Create two groups of students that both focus on that one skill.

Or,  maybe you only have one student that needs help on a specific skill- you can also do a very small group (aka one-on-one) with that child.

How long should a student stay in a group?

Raise your hand if you remember reading groups when you were a child…. yea- the ones in my class had names like ‘blue-birds’ , ‘yellow jackets’ and other random (to me) names. Once someone was placed in the blue-bird group (aka a struggling readers) they never got out. They were always a blue-bird… and everyone knew it.

How lame is it that no child ever ‘graduated’ out of these groups? How equally lame is it that we can remember how those group names made us feel….

>>So, how long should a student stay in a group?  It’s pretty simple- as long as they to and no longer.

Do I make a big ta-do about them ‘graduating’ out of a group? No. I don’t even talk about it.  Not because the mastery of a skill shouldn’t be celebrated, but because I don’t want small groups to take on any kind of stigma.  And by announcing that one child has moved ‘out’ or ‘up’ doesn’t really do anything for group morale…

Chances are that child that is ‘graduating’ from the group will be soon moving to another group to work on a different skill set.

How should I refer to my groups?

Well, by ‘blue-birds’ and ‘yellow-jackets’ of course.  << ONLY KIDDING!

Why do we as teachers feel the need to name everything some cutesy name?  {confession- I once declared our art cart the ‘Rolly McRollerson’. Did that make any sense to the kids- no. But, I felt our beloved art cart needed a name…which is totally ridiculous because it has a name- it’s our Art Cart}.

So, keep it simple. Call the students individually by name. No need to complicate things with group names – especially since the groups will ebb and flow… and doing it this way will not bring up an ever lasting scar when one of your former students sees a blue bird 😉

I hope this helped you get a grasp on how to group preschoolers for small group!

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