Thursday, May 28, 2015

How To Start a Playgroup


A playgroup is a fabulous way for kids to meet new friends (or hang out with current ones), they encourage socialization, and also help to gain exposure to skills like sharing, conflict resolution, leadership, and creative thinking.  Playgroups are not only fun for the kids, but they are a great way for parents to catch up, share stories, give advice, and connect with others.  Often with small children in the house, it can feel lonely until you realize there are tons of other parents experiencing the same things as you!  Here are 10 helpful ideas for the best playgroup ever:

  1. Determine what kind of group you want.  Do you want a small group of friends?  A group for members of a class to play?  You can opt to ask a couple of friends you already know or even post flyers at a school, rec center, or church.
  2. Once you have some interest, see what works for everyone (or at least the majority).  Once a week?  Once a month?  With busy schedules and working parents, a regular playgroup may not be realistic for everyone or it may need to be held on a weekend as an alternative.
  3. Determine where you will meet.  Will you meet at a public place like the library or park?  Perhaps rotate around to other people's homes?  Kids love to check out other kid's toys.
  4. Obviously you'll want to pick a time that works for everyone, but be sure to take the time of day into consideration so everyone is well-rested.
  5. Keep it simple.  Avoid large spreads of food.  A simple snack works best.  You could have one parent host, while another parent covers the snack, then keep it rotating so no one gets overwhelmed.
  6. If playgroup will be during lunch, have everyone bring a lunch from home...this is a great way to practice for school too!
  7. If hosting in your home, be sure double check for any safety hazards before guests arrive.  For example exposed outlets, cleaning products under a sink, a knife block within reach on the counter, a glass vase within toddler's reach, etc.
  8. If you have pets, let everyone know first.  Some kids may be allergic or may be afraid of large animals.  Likewise, if your pet is stressed out by large groups or lots of children running around, offer them a quiet place to hang out like the basement or a guest room for a while.
  9. Speaking of allergies, make sure everyone in the group is aware of any food allergies that may be present in the group.  Depending on the group, everyone may choose to keep certain things off limits if there is a child with allergies in the group who may be exposed.  However, some parents opt to bring their own food from home for their child to keep it easy.
  10. When playtime is over, have everyone help out with clean up.  Having a bunch of kids playing with toys for an hour or two is super fun, but can get pretty messy!  This is also great practice for school time clean up activities too.
Above all...have fun!  We live in a world of schedules and structured activities.  According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), unstructured play is "essential to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth."  

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