Playgroups can be really awesome or really bad. What makes a playgroup really bad? Well, if not the people involved, it could be as a result of the parents not following, what I call, the rules of playground politics.
Tell parents to chip in on healthy snacks and juice. The best snacks at playgroups are those that can be shared. Since it cannot be assumed that parents will bring snacks for everyone at playgroup, and unless the host is okay with providing the snacks, it’s important that the host explicitly tell parents to bring snacks for all children at the playgroup.
Mix it up! For younger toddlers, go with a story or song that everyone can sing-along to. Do these kinds of shared activities between the independent, unstructured play that will take up the bulk of your playgroup.
Create a child-friendly environment. All toys should be placed within reach of the children at play. And the area should be childproofed.
Create an adult-friendly sitting area. Make sure there is enough sitting for all parents at the playgroup. No parents should have to sit on the floor, unless, of course, they want to sit on the floor.
Have duplicates of all the “hot” toys. So, you’ve got one rocking horse that Sally always likes to ride and refuses to share with Billy. The easy fix for this is to make sure that every “hot” toy has a duplicate or reasonable substitute.
Make sure EVERYONE cleans up. At my playgroup, we sing the Barney “clean up” song to inspire tots to get involved with putting away toys. Whatever you do, make sure that you’re including children in the clean up process.
Keep it small. In general, five or six kids is enough for a playgroup. Any more than that and you’re asking for an uprising. Or, well, not really, but you get the point.
Keep it short. For toddlers, two hours of play is more than enough. With older children you can go longer, but make sure they have enough to do in the allocated time.
If you follow these rules, and barring any threats from judgmental parents, you’ll have a successful playgroup every time. I pinky swear promise.