5 Tips on Implementing Small Groups in the Classroom

Being an observer in a classroom, I have come to notice that a lot of teachers have lost the art of small groups and what can be taught in this times of the day. It has amazed me how the younger generation of teachers have lost the art and understanding of what small groups mean for young children and even older children. I consistently get from educated teachers,” I never really understood why teachers would do small group?” ( I would stand there in disbelief).

Small groups are a fantastic part of the day. They mean so much to young children. This is the time that children learn and get individualized attention from teachers that they can focus and understand the information that is being given to them. Small group is a time in the day where teachers can focus attention towards facilitating learning with a few children at a time. This is a time where focused attention can be given to four to five children that you are working with while other children are playing in centers. This is where you can provide simple instructions to children and show what you mean. This is an excellent time for excellent motor activities, science experiments, math and literacy activities.

Children learn best when they are in smaller groups and focus in small increments. Children’s social and cognitive abilities are developing, Making more time for individual activities or small groups. When children work in small groups, they learn essential lessons about cooperation, compassion, compromise, and conversation. When children work in small controlled groups teachers can focus on specific teaching strategies and more individualized care of each child. Teachers can observe children easier and provide more focused abilities to obtain knowledge.

With so many teachers not clear on small groups I thought that this would be a great time to go over five guidelines for small groups.

1. Small groups should not exceed five children.
Having more than five children in a group does not allow for individualized instruction. With lower numbers, the teacher still has the opportunity to focus on the needed attention of the child and gives opportunities for each to participate in the group.

2. Small groups should be organized intentionally.
Grouping children that are on the same level or that have similar abilities help children be able to be on the same page. But you can also group children with some that are at a higher knowledge than the others so that they can each learn from one another or you may have to place children by behavioral abilities. These days we all have our fair share of children that have some behavioral issues. You may have one in each group so that they do not feed off of one another.

3. Small groups should be distinct from center time activities.
The activities that you do in small group need to be in a specific area and away from center time. There are different ways of doing small groups, and I have found it best to have some children playing in center time while others are at the table doing an activity. You want to make sure that your small group activity is away from the mainstream center areas but then also make sure that you can visually see the children in your classroom. (Your back should never be to the children in your classroom!!!!) Make the activities fun and inviting to where children enjoy coming to you and working with you. The activities should be fun and where children want to learn.

4. Small groups are better than whole groups to teach content.
This should be the time that you are teaching children. Circle time is to help children learn what’s going on but small group time is where you are teaching the children and making sure that they understand the concepts by observing children and assessing their progress. This is where you can get children engaged.

5. Teachers need to play an active role in order for the small group experience to be effective.
The intention behind a small group is for the teacher to teach and facilitate a concept to the children. This is where you can shine and explain in detail to the children what you want them to learn. You as the teacher have to stay engaged and apart of the actual work that is trying to be taught. After teaching the concept then you have the ability to make sure that the children can do what has been shown. This is also your time to make sure that you see if the activity is too easy or too hard. Did they become engaged or were they not interested? These are some questions that you will need to ask yourself to see if they are actually learning from the instruction given.

Influential Interactions

Now, these are just a few tips of small group. If you would like to learn more about small groups and how to implement within the classroom visit our site and look through our list of trainings for ideas and information that will help you succeed in small group!