Parents probably benefit
from playgroups more than their children do. Parents of very young
children often feel isolated, so they welcome a chance to meet with
other adults, compare child rearing stories and advice, and observe
how other parents handle their children. Of course the children also
can benefit from a playgroup, and as they get older, they enjoy
seeing their friends regularly and playing at each otherís homes.
If youíre interested in starting a playgroup, talk to other parents
about the possibility. Ask your neighbors and friends or look in
grocery stores, houses of worship, and newsletters for notices from
other interested parents. Although playgroups are most convenient
when the participants live near each other, groups often form
between people in different neighborhoods.
Your playgroup will probably work best with three to five children
of mixed ages. If all the children are two and one-half, there will
be a great deal of arguing over possessions, but if some are two and
some are four, group meetings will be more harmonious. The youngest
child will be happy playing alone next to the others, and the oldest
ones will be more likely than the two-year-olds to share toys.
Many playgroups are successful meeting in the morning, although some
meet between 3:30 and 5:30 in the afternoon, normally a slow time
for at-home parents with young children. Other playgroups meet on
the weekends so parents who work full-time can participate.
Your playgroup will probably get together once a week, meeting at
each memberís house in turn. In some groups, every parent comes
every time, while in others, parents rotate attendance so that in a
group with six children, two parents attend any one session while
four have the time free. The success of this rotating method depends
on the ages and personalities of the children, and how well the
families know each other. Some young children do not want to be
separated from their parents and may cry for a few minutes or for
the whole play session, particularly if the parents in charge are
Before your playgroup begins meeting, get together with the other
parents involved and develop rules and standards for practical
issues. What kind of snack will be served? What happens when
children fight? Who should bring toys? How will you handle the
problem of sharing toys?
Your playgroup will be most successful if the parents involved share
similar interests and attitudes, especially regarding parenting,
since conflicts can arise when one group member accepts behavior
that bothers another. As long as the adult members of a playgroup
are basically compatible, they should be able to talk about their
differences and try to work out solutions to the groupís problems.