Welcome to the Preschool Small Group 5-Day Series! It's Day 4!
If you haven't already, check out Days 1, 2 and 3:
Let's chat scheduling. No, I don't just mean when on your schedule you do small group (we will get into that too).... having an effective small group schedule is more than that!
Let's dive in!
>>> When in the school year should I start small group?
This totally depends on you and the class you have... but- you should NOT start at the beginning of the school year.
Here's why... children who are not coming to your small group are playing in play centers. Before you can release them into the wild of play centers, you have to teach them how to properly use each center. This takes time and a lot of your attention. You can't just be trying to have small group and expect four year olds to know what to do.
How long it takes to teach, (re-teach and re-teach even more) children about centers could vary from class to class. So, only you know how long this will be and you will only know this after getting into it!
But, when you feel like you can start stepping back from monitoring the daily happenings in centers- then it's probably a good time to start.
>>> How long should a small group session be?
If you just started small group (beginning of the year)- keep it short, like really short. You want to be building attention spans slowly. Holding children at small group time too long could make them dislike that time, which of course you don't want.
As the year progresses, slowly build up how long an activity or game lasts. By the end of the year, we are having a small group session for around 15 minutes (maaayyybeee, 20 minutes- max).
>>>Should I do Small Group Everyday?
A few things to consider...
Does your class come everyday?
If yes, then maybe do small group 3 out of the 5 days or take Fridays off. If your class doesn't come everyday, your year is shorter in a sense, so having groups everyday that the children attend might be necessary to see growth.
How many students are in your class?
If you have 20 students, getting though all students in small groups is harder and may need daily small group. If you only have 8-10 children, you would easily see 3 different groups of children in just one day.
So... the short answer- it depends on your situations and the flow of your week... helpful- i know.
>>> Should I do small group every center time?
So, let's say you have two play center times in your day (I do and I love it). Do you want to be having small group at both those play center times?
Well... that's for you to decide. But, here are some observations I've made:
I've found that the center time we have in the morning is a hard time to conduct a small group, but it's also a great time. The positive is that minds are fresh and ready to learn! But, since we have center time at arrival, we tend to have stragglers. Also, every once and a while I will have students that are so into their play and seeing their friends that they don't want to come play with me for small group :( On the other hand... the center time we have in the afternoon is equally as challenging because children are tired and wearing down for the day. So, what do I do... I'm flexible. While I try to get small group time to fit in the morning, if a child or group isn't feeling it- we wait until the afternoon. This also helps me to not feel so stressed about fitting everything into that one time block.
The fact of the matter is - you gotta do what is best for you and your class of students. I've found that each year is different because each class of students is different, so I'm always on my toes!
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