Bonding Together - Toddler Playgroups

Toddlers take up a lot of energy. They are on the go at all times - except when they are napping - and they take up a great deal of their parents' energy. One great activity to do with your toddler is to form a play group. Here, we offer tips about forming a play group, keeping a play group going and enjoying your time with the play group.

Forming a Play Group

A play group can take one of two forms. You may decide to form a play group that involves all of the parents and the toddlers. It may, instead, be a rotating group. In a group of this sort, one parent would watch all of the children one day and then another parent would be in charge of the children on a different day.

Play Group Benefits

A play group provides you and your child with a number of benefits. It is a way for your child to begin to socialize and to interact with other children in a warm, protective environment. If you decide to do the type of group where you leave, it is also a way for your child to get used to being around other children and grown-ups without you present. This can be helpful if you are a stay at home mom who wants to prepare your toddler for starting daycare or school. A play group is also social for you, as the adult. It allows you to connect with other parents and to enjoy your time together. If you do the rotating group, then it also gives you a few hours a week without your toddler. This can be time to get things done!

How to Form a Group

A play group can be made up of any people that you know with a similarly aged child. Everyone in the group should have a child about the same age. You should all agree on the size of the group, and you should keep it small. In general, a play group consists of three to six children. You may decide with one friend that you want to form a group, and then have each person bring one other friend into the group. You might go through your church or synagogue to see if other moms want to form a group. You could find other parents through word of mouth, or through other activities that you do and groups that you are part of on a regular basis.

How to Get Started

All of the parents should meet together to discuss their goals and their expectations. You need to decide together how often you want to meet, where you want to meet, and how you want to organize the group. For instance, you could meet once a week from 12-2pm at the nearby park; or you could meet from 9-10 in the morning on Mondays and Wednesdays at rotating houses. Furthermore, you could decide to meet once a week with all the mothers and then to have the kids get together at one house once a week with just one parent supervising. There are many ways to put the group together, and each of you will need to discuss your expectations and your availability to make it work.

Keep Communication Open

Once you've decided on the format for the group, it's time to get started! It is important to keep an open line of communication as issues arise. If you are going to have a snack together as a group, everyone should be in agreement about what types of foods to bring. If one child is eating pretzels and another has chocolate chips, it may create problems. You should feel comfortable voicing your feelings as issues arise and working with the group to make it a fun and warm environment for everyone.

A play group is a great way to get your child out of the house and interacting with others. Forming one could help you, and your toddler, to burn off some energy and to start to interact with other children. Have fun forming a group and enjoy!