ORGANIZING A PLAYGROUP OR PLAYDATE FOR TODDLERS
Why Is A Playgroup Important To Toddlers?
An Important part of child development is socialization with other children. Social interaction allows a child the opportunity to learn new skills such as how to express thoughts and emotions, sharing, and learning to get along with other children, all which help to develop more self-confidence. Sometimes families are lucky enough to have a neighborhood full of children where social play is natural, but often times an organized play date is needed. Organized playgroups offer children the opportunity to participate in different activities and learn from both other children, while giving you a chance to spend some time with adults.
What Is A Playgroup?
A playgroup consists of children that meet regularly at each other’s homes to play. The children are usually close in age and should always be under parental supervision. The hosting parent usually plans the activities, but sometimes the group decides as a whole. Playgroups are generally arranged to meet the needs of the children and are generally not considered formal child care.
How Many Children Should Be In A Playgroup?
The children do not have to be the same age, but it is usually easier to plan activities if they are close in age, skill level, and interests. Smaller groups work better, and a general rule of thumb is that the younger the child, the smaller the group should be. Six children should be the maximum, especially if there is only one adult supervising.
How To Organize A Playgroup
Parents should meet to discuss their goals and to set a schedule. It’s important decide the When & Where right away; the lack of organization is the quickest way for the playgroup to fall apart. Be sure to get emergency contact information for all of the children that will be attending the playgroup. Half-day groups are usually best for pre-school children and once or twice a week is better than daily playgroups at this age. Most often, there is a lot of “free play”, but parents sometimes schedule planned activities and snack time.
Tips for A successful Play date
- Be sure to supervise the children closely, to leave a group of toddlers unsupervised during a play date can be dangerous.
- Choose a time of day when the toddlers will be well-rested, either first thing in the morning or after an afternoon nap.
- Put away your child’s favorite toys so that he won’t be forced to share his most cheerish toys
- Having multiples of the same toy will help to avoid arguments over the same toy.
- Include some activities and toys that can be done in a group such as playing with play dough, blocks, bubbles, or crafts.
- Be sure to give your child a few minutes warning before the end of the play date, so he has time to get used to the idea that the fun is winding down.
- Set a date, time, and place for the next playgroup.
Written by: Dee Dee Martin, co-founder Parenting Club and Simply Toys