If you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad, then maybe you aren’t doing the pre-school route. However, it’s important to arrange some play time for your child with others his/her age.
Enter the playgroup.
Playgroups are far less structured than pre-school, but still provide an organized and supervised get-together that allows your child to engage with other children and form important social and creative skills and learn how to make friends, share and be involved in a group setting.
Really, how else is Jason or Jessica going to learn how to share their new toys? Or how will they learn how to react when someone tries to take their cool Pink Floyd or Beatles sippy cup?
In many cases, there’s more to it than just getting some neighborhood kids together. Is a specific playgroup right for you and your child? What should you consider when you’re looking to hook up with that perfect playgroup for your toddler?
Here are some things you might look for when you’re on the search for a playgroup.
The Importance of a Playgroup
Before we explore what you might look for in a playgroup, let’s take a moment to find out why it’s a good idea for your child to attend one in the first place.
There’s only so much time you as a busy mom or dad can spend with your child. Yes, you’re giving them play time, and structure, and setting rules. But when your child can be around others their age to help them develop communication skills and the ability to share and try new things, then you should take advantage of such an opportunity.
A 2016 report from the Australian Institute of Family Studies showed that participation in a playgroup benefited children in areas of self-confidence, speech and increased engagement in play. The report goes on to show that yes, even moms and dads benefit: improvement to their social lives, a better relationship with their child and more confidence in providing care to their children are listed among the parental benefits of playgroups.
Is This Playgroup Right for Me?
Age. Facilities. Structure. Even distance. These are a few of the major aspects you should consider when you’re planning to try on a playgroup for size.
In many cases, it’s important to think about the range of ages you want your child to interact with. If he/she is crawling, putting them in a room of 3- and 4-year olds might not be beneficial and maybe even dangerous. Up to the age of perhaps three, you might want to find a playgroup where all of the children are the same ages.
For those over three, they might learn from older children, so going for a playgroup with a more diverse age range might be the way to go.
What is the facility like? Is the setting conducive for children under the age of three? Is there enough around to keep a five-year-old entertained? Visit the location and see what age group it’s geared toward and if the surroundings are safe and offer activities and toys that match your child’s interests and age.
Are you looking for a lot of structure or more informal meetings? Your child’s personality might mesh best with an informal group run by a parent or parents, while another’s might benefit from one run by an early childhood educator and has a more formal structure.
This aspect will mostly depend on what you hope to get out of a playgroup. If you’re looking to just have your child build some interactive skills and friendships, an informal playgroup might be great. If you want your child to learn more of the skills they might develop in pre-school, then formal might be the way to go. And some might combine the best of both. Whatever works best for you.
Of course, distance needs to be considered. Is the playgroup you found ideal in every way but too far from your home? You’ll need to think about this in cases where your child falls ill during his time at the group and you need to get to him in a hurry.
In the end, it will take some research, but when you find the right playgroup, you’ll know it. Your child will know it. And the benefits you’ll both enjoy: priceless.
Editor’s Note: Harrison Howe is a freelance content provider & writer for Daphyl’s LLC. Daphyl’s is a USA based multi-national world leader in safe, innovative, Licensed Rock N Roll, branded baby gear. The opinions, advice and assertions made in this article are for entertainment and information purposes only & are solely those of the author.