Small Group Reading
Small group reading is a valuable part of an early learning program.
While it is always desirable to have books available for children to access individually, the group reading experience offers unique opportunities for learning and enjoyment.
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Benefits of small group reading
1. Reading as a group helps to develop language and cognitive skills as kids share experiences with others.
"Did anyone ever build a snowman like that?"
"Why did the snowman melt?"
"Do you think they will build another snowman"?
As a result of group participation, children are given an opportunity to recognize and appreciate different responses and opinions from others.
2. Small group reading enriches story time with the benefit of interaction between teachers and classmates.
Children and teachers gather together comfortably in a specific area with everyone's attention focused.
This can be a calming, settling routine that is beneficial throughout the school day.
3. Reading as a small group is often effective as a transition from one activity to another.
With attention focused, the teacher or parent is able to guide children into another activity, or prepare for nap time.
Guidelines for successful small group readings
- Seat children comfortably in a carpeted area or on individual mats or cushions.
- The teacher may sit on a low stool to facilitate holding the book at a level where it is seen by all.
- Minimize distractions such as toys or materials in the circle unless they are adding to the story (i.e. puppets).
- Bring the story alive using voice fluctuations, facial features and hand gestures to accentuate the action or mood.
- Make eye contact with the children. pausing often to allow them (and you!) to make comments or ask questions.
- Choose books with large, colorful illustrations.
Options for small group reading
Shared Reading Program
One of the programs I initiated with my preschool was a shared reading program with a local elementary school.
Each of the preschoolers in my class was matched with a reading buddy from grade two. As the older children began to read to the younger ones, I was pleased with the relative quiet that followed, with only gentle murmurings mingling throughout the room.
Alternative Methods of Telling Stories
Compliment small group story times with other methods of story telling. These extensions of the traditional book can include puppet shows, charades or other means of communicating a story. These alternatives are beneficial for young children who often cannot be expected to sit for long periods.
Children who are easily distracted in larger groups may benefit from readings with just two or three children at a time. Even one-on-one story times can be effective if the child is encouraged to engage with the story - making comments, asking questions, and predicting outcomes.
Reading as a small group can be a special part of your day at home or in the classroom. Take advantage of the endless possibilities for telling stories.