Over the summer I shared my thoughts and ideas on small group learning in a 5-Day Preschool Small Group Series. I shared 5 reasons WHY you should be doing small group, how to effectively group your small groups, creating a small group schedule, activities to do in your small group and tips to organize your small group. But, today is all about the question: Is it time to start small group?
As the school year starts, our focus is on getting to know our new little students. We are teaching them procedures, rules and practicing routines. We are playing with students to get to know them and helping children learn how to use the materials in classroom centers.
At the beginning of the year, these things are the most important things to be doing. So important that I choose to not plan much in the way of small group activities. I’d rather lay a strong foundation of relationships and expectations than have to do it all year long.
So, back to the question at hand… When is it time to start small group? When is it okay for you step back from monitoring, playing and helping children in centers?
Well… the answer isn’t a straight forward one. The answer isn’t ‘x-amount’ of weeks. Why? Because each class is different, which makes each year different.
So, how are you to know if your class is ready to start small group?
Ask yourself the following questions. If the answers to the questions are all yes- then you have a pretty big indicator that it’s time to start small group. If you can’t answer yes to all the questions, focus on strengthening what is lacking before starting small group. Because the last thing you want to do is jump into small group and be constantly interrupted to put out fires.
Five Questions to Ask Yourself…
- Do you feel like you have the beginning to a solid relationship with each student? Do you know them well enough to know that they can handle themselves to be safe while your focus isn’t entirely on them?
- Have you taught children how to use materials in centers? For example, do your students know how to attach new paper to the easel? Where to put art projects? How to wash their hands without assistance?
- Have you set boundaries about when it is okay to interrupt small group time and when it isn’t?
- Have you decided how you are going to handle the situation that may arise when a student or students don’t want to come to small group time?
- Have you finished your beginning of the year assessments and have an understanding of which students need extra assistance with skills?
If you were able to answer ‘Yes’ to all 5 questions- it’s time to start planning your preschool small group time!
Need some help?
Looking for already done small group activities based on each skill? Check them out here!