Education Station Archive

Education Station: Group Time

Stop, Look and Take Action!

Study your child care environment to see if you can answer “YES” to the following questions. By answering “YES” you are getting on board toward meeting “best practices” identified in the Early Child Care Environmental Rating Scale.

Group Time

Children learn most naturally and effortlessly if they are allowed to follow their own preferences, abilities, and interests with attention from their caregiver who adds to and facilitates learning. Grouping is times for children to play with peers during routines of play and activities in whole or large group; small group; small self-selected group; or individual play.

Generally, large group activities do not promote the type of learning from which young children benefit because they are not individualized, hands-on, flexible, or self-directed. A large group activity usually requires all children to do the same thing at the same time, to set aside their own needs and participate in a setting where individual needs are not emphasized. Some young children may not be able to do this and are at a disadvantage in large group activities. Large group activities can be successful if they are relatively short; they include experiences children enjoy doing together, focus on a topic of interest, and are not forced to remain in the group.

1. Are whole-group gatherings suited to ages of children?

2. If any child has significant problems with the time required, are they allowed to leave the group and do
another activity?

3. Do you notice whether children are bored, “tuned out”, have trouble remaining in the group and shorten
group time?

4. Do at least half of play activities occur in small self-selected groups or individual play activities?

5. Do small group activities include meals/snacks, nap/rest, toileting/diapering and other personal care
activities such as hand washing or dressing to go outdoors?

6. Do you engage children in educational interaction through conversations?

7. Do you ask questions and provide information?

8. Do you introduce new materials or resources and help children to learn how to do things?