No One Is Too Young For A Playgroup
by Carren W. Joye
Playgroups are not just for toddlers and preschoolers. You may think your baby is too young to benefit from a playgroup, but you would be surprised at how much a baby will enjoy it. Take a look at some of the advantages to participating in a playgroup for children of all ages.
For free or low-cost entertainment on a regular basis, the playgroup is unmatched! Weekly playgroups provide an enjoyable diversion where the children can play with friends while their moms talk or where all the members enjoy a structured mom-child activity. Even babies enjoy watching older children play.
“We meet three times a week, which is a big help to keep the kids busy during the week and to allow them to make strong friendships,” says Jessica LaLonde, mother of three and founder of Young Moms of Orange County in California.
Friendship alone is a good reason for joining a playgroup. Playgroups provide children with the opportunity to play with others besides their own moms or siblings. In addition, many of the children in playgroup will likely be in their classes when school starts, especially if the group is composed of neighborhood residents. Many children make lifelong friends in playgroup!
During play, children learn valuable skills, such as how to share, take turns and role-play. They can also engage in crafts or other structured activities. For families who don’t want to consider preschool or a Moms Day Out program, a playgroup is a viable solution.
Low Stress Mom-Child Activity
A playgroup is not a babysitting service; parents stay with their children. That means no worries with separation anxiety! The children can play and have fun without having to worry about mom leaving. It’s a very reassuring and confidence-building way to introduce children to socialization and to give them a little bit of independence at the same time.
Many playgroups offer babysitting co-ops as a benefit for their members. A babysitting co-op consists of a number of families in a community who decide to share babysitting among themselves without the exchange of money. The co-op is used for errands and doctor’s appointments and could even be used for weekends so parents could go out without the hassle of finding a sitter and the expense of paying for one. The parents feel more comfortable knowing their children are watched by an adult they know and by someone with whom the children feel comfortable as well.
“Moms all over have discovered how best friends make the best baby-sitters,” says Gary Myers, author of The Smart Mom’s Baby-sitting Co-op Handbook.
Many parents’ groups and playgroups schedule field trips and other special events in addition to regular playdates, according to information at OnlinePlaygroup.com. The field trips can be “behind the scenes” tours to places toddlers and preschoolers love, such as fire stations, police stations, and other no-cost locations. Members get a chance to see the local sites and learn more about the area in which they live. Some groups even become involved in the community through various service projects.
Don’t delay joining or starting a playgroup just because you think your child is too young. Whether an infant, toddler or preschooler, your child will enjoy going to playgroup. Indeed, you’ll be surprised how much you both will get out of it!