Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Reflections: I 'do' group time

As part of a collection of reflective posts I want to think about some aspects of my practice - in particular, those which others might not necessarily follow.

For me, group time in Nursery was something I inherited from predecessors. When I was an NQT, the lead teacher in the room was using group time effectively already.  As a student, we were expected to plan small activities.  I never questioned why we did it in the first few years.

I have since!  Mainly because I encountered settings which didn't run any form of sit down group time - even story!  Now, before you lambaste me or these settings remember it is ok to be on the fence about this.   

Many settings do not want to impede the creativity or the flow of play in their settings.  Many would argue, quite rightly, that you can achieve all those 'teachable moments' within the provision through interactions with adults. In fact, you're more likely to embed the learning as the children can develop that learning through the Zone of Proximal development (look it up!).

However..!  I do do group times.  Perhaps this is a hang up of having few staff available.  I can certainly see that as a reason why many smaller settings or those working to a precise ratio might feel. But for me, that isn't the case. Truth be told I've always had a healthy team around me. So why do I carry on...?

A few reasons.  

1) I think somethings are best taught in focussed groups away from distraction in a sociable context where children can share ideas, listen to questions and reply without being distracted.  (Some of my children have limited attention).

2) School readiness. That dirty term.. But the truth is no nursery can ignore school readiness, if you do, you're not preparing your children for their next stage of their life. 

I have never encountered a reception class that doesn't sit children down in groups in some form or another. Whether this is phonics, maths/english sessions or story times.  I don't want my children to arrive in Reception next year being completely thrown off by having to sit down at school for the very first time. 


I want to try something a little bit different. I do wonder if I started to host more group time activities within the provision areas and centre these around the resources that the children might develop their thinking more deeply and I may see more level of independence during their play..

What do you think? Comment below

- James 


  1. I'm constantly battling with where my methodology/influences lie. I'm a firm advocate of planning in the moment and responding immediately to children's needs and generally running with their ideas, however 'out of context' it may seem. It also saves hours or planning documents and activity planning that children may not be interested in. However, my tutors last year wanted us to plan and teach to outcomes that we identified so I was in a dilemma. Now I'm teaching I do have areas that I want to target for one child or groups of children so I try to do this in continuous provision. Sometimes it's planned from my initiation, other times it's woven into their play. I'm a fan of small group time to welcome/end the day or set up the play opportunities based on children's interests. I'm not a fan of it as a transition/time filler/part of the routine as maths, phonics, songs and stories *can* all be covered in other areas of provision.

    1. Thank you Sarah. I think we need to keep developing our own approaches and they must reflect the cohort and not our own ideas about education.

  2. I think group time that's centred around an interest the children are showing definitely puts more depth into the learning and more purposeful...your success criteria can be built into those

    1. Interests are far better you're right. I do struggle to group children by their interests mind - such a broad range.