The Ins and Outs of Playgroups
by Stef Daniel
Playgroups are wonderful platforms for young children to socialize and connect with other kids their age on a regular basis. This helps your child learn the skills they will need in preschool or kindergarten and can help them to build friendships with other children that may last a lifetime. In addition to that, for a mom often isolated at home with just children, playgroups offer time to talk with other adults, forging friendships, reducing stress, and breathing some fresh air into your life as well. Finding the perfect playgroup for you and your child may take some time, but keep looking because they are definitely out there.
Depending on where you live, you may find dozens of playgroups listed online or in local newspapers. Many larger playgroup organizations post flyers in pediatrician’s offices as well as on supermarket bulletin boards. You can also check with your local library to find a playgroup. These larger groups normally have a regular meeting place at a gym or local playground. They also schedule outings that are similar to field trips several times per month. Playgroups can meet once a week or several times a week depending on the size of the group and are normally open to parents of children who are not yet attending regular school. This means that if you have a one year old and three year old, one playgroup will work for both children.
There are also special interest playgroups that are often available. For instance, playgroups for mothers of twins, nursing mothers, working moms, or families interested in organic living, which help to band like-minded parents together. If you don’t have a specific interest – then joining a playgroup that is in your neighborhood or convenient to where you live may be the best option. If you cannot find a playgroup in your neighborhood and see lots of mothers like yourself, take the initiative to hand out flyers and try to get one started. There aren’t any stringent rules that must be followed to have a playgroup, and the point is finding children and parents that get along together.
There are some useful resources online that can help you find a playgroup that works for you. Try searching www.meetup.com by your zip code to find out what may be available in your area.
When you join a playgroup, it is important that you know what you want. Are you mostly interested in socializing your kids or do you want to make friends as well? Are you interested in a group for moms only, or do you want dad to be involved as well. Call up the playgroup organizer and ask as many questions as you have. Then, make it a point to meet with them at least once before making a decision either way. Playgroups are like anything else in life, you may like one and not another. You can also join a playgroup and ‘break up’ with it down the road should you find another one that seems to be a better fit. In the meantime, you and your children can meet new people and hopefully make some good friends along the way.
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