By: Tina Toran
Free Play & Learn groups in Falmouth begin this week. Have you checked on the Coalition for Children’s website? Have you signed up for a registered group? Do you know when and where all the drop-ins are? If not, maybe you need a couple of reasons to participate. How about 10?
Ten Reasons to Join a Playgroup*
1. Variety makes life spicy. Wake up. Feed baby. Change diapers. Look at dirty house. Ignore house. Feed baby. Change diaper. Put baby down for a nap. Baby cries. Feed baby…. There is nothing more glorious than bringing your baby home, but after a week or two, the sameness of the routine may become stressful. Playgroups provide a reason to get dressed (although very few have dress codes) and add structure to your days.
2. Friends make the world go round. The size of your group is space dependant, but most groups usually consist of at least seven or eight parents. Before you even put your child down, you have a whole room full of potential mom and dad friends. No ice breakers are necessary, you all have at least one thing in common, and adult conversation is just a new friend away!
3. Avoid isolation. Ping ponging, after-baby hormones can be destructive, and isolation can exacerbate the baby blues or maternal depression. If getting out of the house is the last thing you want to do, then it’s the first thing you probably should do. Getting out and meeting others can be a great way to assess your own health and well being. It’s also a great place to say, “you know, I think I need a little help.” Your new friends can, and will, listen with empathy: this is your choir.
4. Find your little Twyla. Playgroups differ according to age group, developmental appropriateness, and focus. The Coalition for Children offers free Lap Babies Groups, Mixed Age Playgroups, Tots ‘n Tales, Movement and Creative Music, and Intergenerational Groups. While their content is different, all of the songs, finger plays, dances, books, and the crafts are designed to provide the children with a variety of stimulating experiences.
5. Slow down, you move too fast. Have you ever heard anyone say, “I wish I could remove some hours from my day?” No, probably not. Everyone is always trying to fit more in, do more, add more. Playgroups are a place to relax, make friends and bond with your children. When you are holding your baby and singing or reading a book with your toddlers, you’re giving your child(ren) the message that this time is important, and you are important.
6. Social emotional learning is a Pre-K activity. Children do not come out of the womb with shiny social skills; these empty little vessels need to be taught how to do everything. While the work begins at home, playgroups are a great place to introduce and/or practice skills like how to treat friends, share, follow directions, gain independence, take turns, and deal with difficult situations. Consider playgroups as another school readiness exercise.
7. But she bit her best friend! Most community run playgroups are led by experienced leaders with child development experience. Many have folders and fliers with information about everything from toilet training and developmental delays, to eating issues – and of course, biting. If you have questions, please ask. If the leader does not have an answer, they will look for resources and bring them to the next meeting.
8. You are a life saver. Since Air Station Cape Cod is right in the middle of our attachment area, I’ve spoken to recently relocated families who have no familial supports: they know no one. One woman from the base called our office and asked for a baby sitter. She needed to go to the doctor and had no one to ask. Not one person. With time and attendance, trust builds and parents begin to reach out to each other. Many develop childcare friendships, which in any economy, including this one, is a definite mothers little helper.
9. What does your village look like? If it takes a village to raise strong, socially adept, and confident children (and parents) the earlier you make the connections, the stronger the foundation will be. Playgroups are the fertile ground from which spring literacy habits, parent and child together bonding, and life long friendships. If you are an adult with children ages birth to school age, we have a group for you. If you’re a visitor to our area and you don’t have access where you are, you might consider starting a group of your own.
10. Finding local support. If you are new to the area, or you are new to parenting and you need information about local resources – what do you do? If you live in Falmouth, you call us, THE COALITION FOR CHILDREN. We are a parent support and education program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care. We offer free workshops, free parenting classes, free childcare resource guides, and free playgroups! Groups will begin the week of September 15th, 2014. For more information call (508) 548 0151 x 172. You can also check our website: http://www.thecoalitionforchildren.org.
Tina Toran is the co-coordinator of The Coalition for Children.The Coalition for Children is a grant funded, education and support program for parents and early childhood educators with children from birth to school age. We offer play and learn groups, workshops, parenting classes, developmental screenings, an emergency childcare fund, community events and links to local childcare providers: anything we can do to create a strong foundation for our children, our families, our providers, our community. All classes are FREE
Below is the Fall Playgroup Schedule. If you wish to register visit their webiste: http://www.thecoalitionforchildren.org/fall-2014-schedule.html
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