The Importance of Managing Small Groups in Preschool Education

Check out some of the MOST POPULAR questions our Playgarden Prep early learning center teachers are asked about 2-3 year olds.

When looking for good preschool education for your child, it’s important to look deeply into how a preschool functions.  A preschool is more than a name, or prestige value.  It needs to genuinely educate and uplift your child, so they’ll be ready to succeed throughout their K-12 educational career.

“Small group” work is a cornerstone of any good preschool education.  Young children shouldn’t be lectured to all day.  Work in small groups allows them to experience many different activities, significantly expanding the educational experiences they’re exposed to.

Here are our thoughts on how small groups should be run and managed.

How Small Group Work Contributes to A Quality Preschool Education

The first and most important aspect of a small group is that it must be small.  In general, each group shouldn’t contain more than around 5-6 kids.  A good preschool educator will set up multiple stations around their classroom, based on the overall class size, so that there’s room for everyone to be in a small group.

These groups should have varied goals and activities, to stimulate children’s minds and bodies.  A good Montessori preschool knows that children should be encouraged to follow their own interests and given a level of freedom to choose enrichment activities for themselves.  

Typical activities for small group work could include:

  • Mathematics
  • Basic life skill activities such as sorting or matching
  • Reading/Storytime
  • Art
  • Music
  • Basic cooking or kitchen awareness

While many of these groups will be overseen by the instructor or a teaching assistant, it’s not necessary that every group be directly supervised.  Even at a young age, children can still develop a sense of trust and independence, by being allowed to engage in their chosen activities with a minimum of oversight.  This helps them learn the self-awareness and self-control necessary to behave well once they move into a traditional elementary school setting!

In addition, group time is a great opportunity for teachers and their assistants to make informal evaluations of students and their progress, without stressful tests or worksheets.  Proper play, proper language use, sharing, and collaborating with others…  these are all things a teacher can discretely witness and take notes on, without interrupting the student. 

At Playgarden Prep, we believe in preparing your child for academic greatness!  As a leading Montessori preschool in Tribeca and the Upper East Side, we’ve had numerous success storiesin our Playgarden Prep families.