Michelle LaRowe, mom and nanny, wrote an article on playgroups. We thought it was so insightful that we had to share it with you.
How To Have a Successful Playgroup
With the start of the school year on the horizon, many parents of infants, toddlers and preschoolers wonder how they will keep their younger children occupied, engaged and entertained come September.
With parents often being priced out of preschools and enrichment classes for their young children, a playgroup provides a great way for younger children to practice their socialization skills, explore new environments and learn to interact in a group.
A well run playgroup:
• facilitates learning through play
• encourages budding friendships
• fosters emotional, physical and social development
Kids learn to:
• interact with others,
• practice their language skills, motor skills
• learn to function in new and challenging environments
So if starting a playgroup is something that interests you, here are some basic guidelines for starting and maintain a well run playgroup.
First define the parameters of your playgroup. You’ll need to determine what ages you’d like to welcome, how often you’d like to meet, where you’d be meeting and how long your playgroup will last. You may also want to include any basic rules or guidelines that you feel would help govern your playgroup. A list of house rules, expected behavior, safety guidelines for the location and approved snacks are great things to define up front.
Second you’ll want to set a date and time for an informational meeting. Create some flyers that advertise your playgroup and the date, time and location of your informational meeting. Posting flyers at your local library, pediatrician’s office and other places that kids visit is a great way to connect with other moms and kids of similar ages as yours. Include pull of strips with your contact information for people to take.
Third you’ll want to prepare to host your informational meeting. Offer light snacks and refreshments and make it a social gathering for parents of children of similar ages. Provide sign-up sheets that attendees can leave their contact information and the names and ages of their children. Although you may want to host the first playgroup meeting, you may also want to provide a calendar for parents to sign up to host a playgroup or commit to bringing snacks.
Follow up via email with those who attended and finalize the details of your first playgroup. Layout your playgroup schedule and encourage others to sign up to host or bring snack on available days.
Prepare your space in advance:
• Decide which areas of your location will be open to the group and childproof the space as needed.
• Put away any toys that your child may have trouble sharing and create a welcoming and friendly environment for your little guests.
• Many successful playgroups work off a theme and each meeting revolves around a preselected theme. On the farm, music and movement, colors and in the kitchen are all great themes for young kids. Be sure to leave out toys, games, books and activities that go along with your theme for kids to play with.
Create Different Stations:
• Have books in one area, blocks in another and a craft project in another provides an opportunity for kids to actively participate in playgroup together
• Great stations are made up of activities that have many parts that kids can play with together. For example, there are enough blocks for everyone to use so it can avoid kids fighting over one prized possession.
You may also want to consider having a monthly outing for playgroup where everyone attends the local park, library or museum together. This is a great way to secure group rates at local attractions.
After your playgroup meeting, follow up with those on your contact list and let them know how fun your playgroup was and when your next group will be. Invite them to join the fun!
With a little planning and preparation starting and maintaining a playgroup for your young child can be a cinch. Affordable and fun, playgroups provide a great way for kids and moms to connect.
Written by Michelle LaRowe