Posted on 02/18/2016 at 12:51 PM by Liz Determan

“Group meetings begin where circle times leave off, going beyond the routines of weather and weekly calendar. Group meetings bring the events of the day, along with problems, experiences, and activity-planning, into thoughtful discussion.” That is the way Dr. Dan Gartrell explains the use of group time to solve problems together.  In his presentation at the Centering on Centers conferences, Dan reminded us that young children – as young as 3 – are able to be thoughtful and creative during large group meetings. 

The adults were reminded to set the parameters of the discussion and guide children to polite discussions – especially about problems in the classroom. We should never use the names of the children involved in the group problem, nor do we let the children name other children.  “Some children are hitting on the playground. I wonder what we could do so children are not getting hurt?” is so much better than “Billy and Suzy are hitting and that needs to stop.”

Group meetings do much to build encouraging settings for children. They can be versatile in that they can address both everyday matters and public problems within the group. These meetings are valuable lead-up activities for living in a democracy. They can and should be used regularly in preschool programs.

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