Playgroups


IHMC Playgroups  |   Why Join a Playgroup?   |   Playgroup Tips

 

IHMC Playgroups

Our playgroups provide friendship, fun and socialization for children as well as moms. The number of moms per playgroup ranges from three to ten, depending on the group. In general, the playgroups are kept small to encourage the development of close relationships. The many playgroups meet weekly at a designated time and place chosen by the playgroup members. Members of each playgroup select their meeting place and activities based on the personality and ages of the children in the group as well as the needs and desires of the moms. Weekend playgroups are available for working moms. Most playgroups meet at parks in the summer and members home during the cold winter months.

Once you become a club member , our playgroup coordinator will contact you to arrange a playgroup if you wish. In the meantime, if you are interested in information about our playgroups, please contact our membership coordinator.

If you are an active member who would like to join a playgroup or change your playgroup, please contact your playgroup coordinator.

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Why Join a Playgroup?

Article By Carran W. Joye

You rejoiced when you found out you had conceived your wonderful baby. You eagerly crossed off the weeks during your pregnancy leading to the birth of your beautiful baby. You’ve survived the first couple of months with little sleep and no social life. Now baby needs a little more entertainment than you’re able to give. Plus, you’re ready for a little more stimulation yourself! But you don’t want to expose her to germs and you don’t want to be separated for hours at a time. What can a mom and baby do that will provide entertainment for both of them in a safe environment?

Ever think of joining a playgroup?
Playgroups are not just for children; they are just as important to the parents who participate too. Even if you think your baby is too young to benefit from participating in a playgroup, you may be surprised at how much she and you will gain from joining one! Take a look at some of the advantages to participating in a playgroup for children and adults.

Regular Entertainment
For 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 the Younger Moms of Orange County in California.

Friendship
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. Children can make lifelong friends in playgroup!

Plus, playgroups give moms a chance to make new friends and network too. Indeed, friendship is perhaps the greatest reward of joining a playgroup. Many adults, too, find lifelong friends in their playgroups!

Socialization
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.

Additionally, you don’t have the added stress of worrying about the safety of your child. Because parents stay with their children, they are assured of the care and safety of their precious little ones during playgroup.

Free or Low Cost
Whether meeting in each other’s homes or at a central location like a park, spending time with friends in a playgroup doesn’t have to cost a cent! Most neighborhood playgroups do not charge membership dues at all. Although local chapters of national organizations often charge fees, they are nominal and they cover a variety of services and benefits.

A Therapeutic Time Out
All moms need a break now and then, but many don’t have the extra money to spend on a Moms Day Out program or on going out. Playgroups offer the opportunity for at-home parents to get that weekly break from home, and yet spend time with their children at the same time. “There isn’t any ‘off time’ as a parent,” says Danielle Lee of Mission Viejo, California, who founded the Working Moms Community Organization. “Having a support system like a playgroup is somewhat therapeutic.”

Seek Advice and Share Experiences
Playgroups offer parents a chance to seek parenting advice and share experiences from others who are facing the same struggles. In today’s society many new mothers not only have postponed having children, but also have moved great distances from their families and friends. They no longer have that built-in support system that all new moms need. Playgroups and parents’ groups fill that gap. In addition, playgroups for working parents and at-home dads are increasing, according to information at OnlinePlaygroup.com, an Internet resource for finding, starting and managing a playgroup. So even working parents and at-home dads are getting the support they need from playgroups.

Babysitting Co-op
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. Many playgroups offer babysitting co-ops as a benefit for their members. Some are formal record-keeping groups, while others are more informal. 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.

Help During Personal Need
In dealing with an emergency for one child, a mom may need a babysitter for her other child in a pinch. Sometimes a mom may need a safe place for her baby when she herself is ill. Some playgroups institute an “In a Pinch” service with a list of moms who can babysit at the last minute. Since many families do not have relatives nearby, many parents find it convenient and comforting to have someone whom they know and trust that they could call at the last minute. In addition, through playgroup, their children know and feel comfortable with that other adult as well. “When I was battling post-partum depression, I needed someone to watch my nine-month-old son at the last minute several times,” says Angie (last name withheld), a member of the Millbrook Playgroup in Alabama. “I don’t know what I would have done without the friends I have made here in playgroup!”

Sharing, Borrowing and Exchanging
Many playgroups offer various barter systems, where members exchange goods and/or services with other members. These can include coupons, maternity and children’s clothes, and other baby items as well as services such as mowing the lawn, painting a room, or sewing clothes.

Discounts
Many local businesses offer discounts for non-profit groups, allowing playgroup members to save money at the stores they frequent.

Community Exploration
Many parents’ groups and playgroups schedule field trips and other special events. The field trips can be “behind the scenes” tours of such places 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. You’ll be surprised how much you both will get out of it!

About the Author:
Carren W. Joye, homeschooling mom of four children, has founded five successful playgroups and helped start countless other playgroups around the world via the Internet. She is the author of
A Stay-At-Home Mom’s Complete Guide to Playgroups and the main force behind Onlineplaygroup.com.

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Playgroup Tips

The following articles are from Online Playgroup, the Internet resource for finding, starting and managing playgroups, moms’ clubs and other organizations for parents and caregivers.

Ice Breakers for the First Meeting
Prepare Your Child for Playgroup
Playgroup Do’s and Don’ts: How a Good Playgroup Stays Together
Budget-Conscious Playgroup: 6 Ways To Save Money
10 Things A Playgroup Hostess Must Remember
10 Ways to Ensure a Perfect Playdate
Keeping a Healthy Playgroup During Cold and Flu Season
Play Nice: Getting Kids to Share
Rejuvenate Your Playgroup Before It Falls Apart

Ice Breakers for the First Meeting
You may hesitate to start a playgroup because you’re nervous among strangers. What will you find to talk about at the first gathering? Set your mind at ease.

Prepare Your Child for Playgroup
Prepare your child for playgroup by letting him know what to expect and how to behave.

Playgroup Do’s and Don’ts: How a Good Playgroup Stays Together
I started my first playgroup with my first child in 1995 when she was four years old, and I am still attending each Thursday with my fourth child who is herself now four years old. I often wonder what has kept this playgroup going for so many years despite such a fluctuating membership. I think I have a few pointers on what has worked for us.

Budget-Conscious Playgroup: 6 Ways To Save Money
Playgroups are not immune to the poor economy! Many families are facing tight budgets, especially those trying to survive on one income. While a playgroup provides entertainment and time out of the house, some families may not be able to afford it. However, a playgroup does not have to cost money!

10 Things A Playgroup Hostess Must Remember
Not all playgroups meet in homes, but many do. If you’re going to host playgroup in your home, don’t worry! Use this convenient checklist so you won’t forget anything.

10 Ways to Ensure a Perfect Playdate
All parents want their children to have friends. Getting together with friends at the park, playing with friends at day care or preschool, or visiting with relatives are part of a preschooler’s social life. So are going over to a friend’s house and inviting them over to play for a playdate. All of these are important to facilitate friendships for your toddler or preschooler. Unfortunately, personalities and play styles may sometimes clash during these get-togethers. However, if you are prepared, you can help these playdates go so much more smoothly.

Keeping a Healthy Playgroup During Cold and Flu Season
You can’t completely prevent your child from catching colds, but you can certainly avoid some of them some of the time. During the wintertime cold and flu season in particular, you just have to be a little more diligent. Viruses, bacteria and germs spread easily and quickly in groups of people, such as in your playgroup.

Play Nice: Getting Kids to Share
All parents want their children to share and cooperate with others. Toddlers and preschoolers are just learning how to socialize and how to share, and as a parent, you need to help them learn. We often tell our young children to share or to cooperate, but this is like telling them to multiply or to divide. They do not know how to share, so it does not do any good to tell them to do it. You need to show them how to share and show them why they need to share.

Rejuvenate Your Playgroup Before It Falls Apart
Every successful playgroup needs to rejuvenate and re-invent itself every once in a while to keep it fresh and interesting! Use these suggestions to rejuvenate your playgroup, and you’ll find it to be a successful playgroup and long-lasting bunch of friends.

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