Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Why You Should Take Kids to Playgroup

co/ toysrus

When I first started taking care of this little one in September 2015, the weather was still nice. We spent a lot of time outside, and he was still having two naps a day. I had just moved to Toronto and didn't really know what was available. So we spent time at the house and the library and the park and had a great time.

One day we were at a park beside a community centre and a lady asked if I had ever gone inside to the drop-in centre. I said no, and she told me about it and said how much her granddaughter liked it. I put that info into the back of my head and continued enjoying the nice warm fall in the parks.

And then it got cold and I was not into being outside all day anymore and I remembered the playgroup idea. So I checked it out. And because my memory sucks I have no idea what my first thoughts were, but I kept going back so I must have liked it...

The community centre we go to has 'kindergym' twice a week, where kids are in a big gym with balls, riding toys, play structures, mats. It's a free for all and gets pretty crazy, but it definitely gets them tired for nap time! They play until 11 with no structure, and then there is a short circle time (songs, books, parachute) before it's over.

The other two days are drop-in, in a different room upstairs. This room is filled with toys, books, crafts and is more low-key. The kids play until 10:30 and then get a snack, with circle time happening at 11. It's a little bit more structured. Fridays the centre is closed.

Going to these programs were a life-saver for me this winter! I have a deep respect for these centres and think that they are a great option for many parents and caregivers. Here are my reasons why I think you should take kids to playgroup:

  • It will keep you sane. Kids are fun to hangout with all day, but until they can actually speak, you're going to miss having someone who answers you. By going to playgroups, you get to hang out with real adults and have real adult conversations! Although most of those conversations will revolve around children...
  • It gets you out of the house. I transitioned him to 1 nap pretty quickly after I started with him, and one of the key things about having it be successful is to keep him busy and active all morning. I find it's really good to get out of the house, and this makes for a great morning routine.
  • It exposes your child to different cultures and people. You get to meet people that you may otherwise not, and your child gets to hear other languages, etc. At our drop-in, every Thursday is 'Around the world Snack Day', where someone brings in a snack from their country/culture etc and shares it with everyone. It's super fun and the kids get to try things that they probably don't have at home! The adults love it too.
  • It teaches kids social skills. I love that it gives them a chance to learn how to play together, share, communicate their feelings. I think it's really important to work on these skills, which are harder to learn then you would expect, before they start a daycare or kindergarten. This is especially important for kids that are only children and don't have a chance to play with other kids at home!
  • It gives parents and caregivers a place where they can learn and improve. These places offer free workshops, and there are always people around to offer experience and advice. I continuously ask moms and nannys when I'm having a problem and love hearing what they have to say.

What are your thoughts on playgroup? Do you go on a regular basis or not?

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