So much learning can take place in group time, make the most of it!
1. Know the children in the group
Does Adele need to dance or jump before group time so that she can sit still, or does Sam need to tell the group a super exciting story before he can sit and listen? Sometimes Lucas might need a fidget toy to help him to focus or Tom needs to be at the front during group time. You've also noticed Lucy is more relaxed and engaged during group time when she can see the visuals and knows what is coming next.
And I know educators say it ALL the time, but it's true, plan for the children's interests. If they love playing with dinosaurs, why not include dinosaurs in your group time, you could be dinosaurs for your movement, count/sort dinosaurs or read about them in a big book.
The length of your group time will rely soley on the group of children you have and what stage they are at.
2. Be prepared
Have all of your resources ready to go, practise reading the book you are going to read, or singing the songs. Stop and think through each step of the group time and visualise it.
Questions to consider:
- What strategies will you use to gather children for your group time? (It is important to plan each transition, the start and finish of your group time)
- Will the group be sitting on the floor or at a table? (Indoors, outdoors, it's up to you. A place with minimal distractions, plenty of space, nice temperature)
- How will you get the group's attention? (Is there a song you could sing, or musical instrument to play)
- Are there enough resources for each child? (If your movement experience uses scarves, count them before group time begins)
- What will you do if it looks like they're losing interest? (Have Plan B's - If something is not working, or if it is taking too long, have something prepared that you can move onto)
3. Use visuals
Visuals can be used as a schedule for group time, as rules/reminders, or as songs/books/dances. Feel free to use them however it suits your group of learners. Here are some examples below of visuals used as group time rules.
4. Include a variety of sensory experiences
To create a balance of interactive and quiet learning experiences you need to plan experiences that use different types of sensory input such as...
- Movement - songs, games
- Touch - games with resources that have various textures, partner games/songs
- Listening - told story, music that requires actions, playing instruments
- Visual - books, or a science experiment to watch reaction
5. Routine, routine, routine...
Routine makes young children feel safe and while we may be more easily bored by it, children crave it. Sticking to a routine doesn’t mean for example that you have to sing the same 4 songs after you do the weather every day, but it does mean that you should sing something after the weather every day. Keeping to a general routine for your group time makes it predictable and lets children know what is expected of them.
What will your next group time hopefully look like? Children are sitting, watching you and are actively engaged. Un-rushed, relaxed, fun.