Article: One-on-One vs. Clumps

Are you a parent or caregiver who reads lap, nap or bedtime stories?  You may be asking yourself if this blog is right for you.  It is.  Absolutely!  The books I will recommend are going to work brilliantly in large groups, small groups and one-on-one.  However, it’s important to consider the key difference between reading to one child (or a small group) vs. reading to a large group during storytime.

First, I want to note that both one-on-one and group storytimes benefit kids in many of the same ways (which are listed here), but here’s where they are different.

A group storytime is basically a social contract in which a clump of kids agree to turn on their listening ears and zipper their mouths.  It’s like a step between the nursery and the classroom.  Group storytime teaches kids how to be a good audience.  Without this contract in place, a group storytime will unravel.

One-on-one and small group storytimes offer children a different kind of experience.  These storytimes provide for much more two-way communication and therefore afford more opportunities for caregivers to cultivate listener’s emotional development.

How to Handle Interruptions

When you are reading one-on-one with a child, interruptions are opportunities for growth and development.  Let children express themselves and vocalize any connections they make to the story.  Listen to them, seek to understand and praise their connections.  You can always steer them back to the story.

If a child interrupts you while reading during a group storytime, stay on track and keep reading.  Group storytimes for preschoolers only last between 30 – 40 minutes (depending on your listener’s ages and attention spans).  A group storytime, like a classroom, is not the appropriate time for lengthy two way conversations.  So, if this happens repeatedly you may say something like;

“That’s a great question, but remember Brian, storytime is a listening time and that means we turn on our listening _____ (ears)”.  Are your ears on?  Let’s all check our listening ears.”