The purpose of this post is to provide an opportunity for reflection on what currently occurs in your service and the pros and cons of group time.The purpose of this post is not to say what should or should not be occurring in your service around group time. Hopefully this post will allow for critical reflection and a deeper understanding of why you do what you do in your service.
Now when I say group time I am talking about a structured large group activity, usually with 8 or more children in it, that has been planned and/or is a predetermined time in the routine. Here’s the requirements around group time…
Regulation 156 Relationships in groups
(1) The approved provider of an education and care service must take reasonable steps to ensure that the service provides children being educated and cared for by the service with opportunities to interact and develop respectful and positive relationships with each other and with staff members of, and volunteers at, the service.
(2) For the purposes of subregulation (1), the approved provider must have regard to the size and the composition of the groups in which children are being educated and cared for by the service.
- NQS – Element 1.2.3: Critical reflection on children’s learning and development, both as individuals and in groups, is regularly used to implement the program.
These are the only time group is mentioned in relation to the program and relationships with children. However the following requirements are important to mention when reflecting in group time…
- NQS – Element 1.1.1: Curriculum decision making contributes to each child’s learning and development outcomes in relation to their identity, connection with community, wellbeing, confidence as learners and effectiveness as communicators.
- NQS – Element 1.1.2: Each child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests are the foundation of the program.
- NQS – Element 1.1.3: The program, including routines, is organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning.
- NQS – Element 1.1.5: Every child is supported to participate in the program.
- NQS – Element 1.1.6: Each child’s agency is promoted, enabling them to make choices and decisions and to influence events and their world.
- NQS – Element 1.2.1: Each child’s learning and development is assessed as part of an ongoing cycle of planning, documenting and evaluation.
- NQS – Element 1.2.2: Educators respond to children’s ideas and play and use intentional teaching to scaffold and extend each child’s learning.
So knowing all of this information here are some reflective questions for you:
- Why do you do group time?
- Does each child have an opportunity to engage with the learning that occurs in a large group?
- Are the educators able to identify and assess each child’s learning in a large group?
- How does group time help children prepare for the transition to school?
- How do you manage the children who are interested and engaged, and those who are disinterested or disengaged?
- Do the children have a voice in what is discussed at group time? Do they have the ability to make decisions?
- How do children with additional needs or different ages participate in the group time?
- How much time is spent with educators “managing” the children during the group time, vs engaging and teaching?
- Do educators enjoy doing group time?
Knowing the requirements and having honest critical reflection can help either re-ignite the reason why your routine and program happens the way it does, with group time as an integral part, or provide an opportunity to explore other avenues if you no longer feel group time serves a purpose.
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