Here are some points I have put together, while hunting for a playgroup. Playgroups are usually centers where little toddlers (18 months plus) go to interact with other kids and play. Its not really a learning center. They just fine tune their motor and verbal skills. But a few places that I visited, seemed to take it more seriously, they were so particular about teaching shapes, number etc, using a board and not through play. So I have a list of things I liked and did not like during the hunt.
Hope it helps you find the right playgroup for your kids. Never hesitate to stop your toddler from going to a playgroup if they are not ready. All kids cry for a few days becaue of the seperation, but if they seem to be uncomfortable with the environment for a long time, its best to keep them at home for a longer while or change the playschool.
What should I see while choosing a playgroup?
- Facilities, as its a playgroup, what are the facilities to play.
- Cleanliness, how clean is the place and how much do they stress on hygiene, as toddlers are highly prone to infection.
- Safety, how safe is the place environment wise (is the floor safe), people wise (are there only women within the campus- thats if your particular). Even going there many times to check is ok.
- How open are they to parents interaction, do they allow you to sit in the campus for few days?
- Do they have a curriculum? whats their mode of teaching. Playgroups should not have a teaching curriculum ideally, make sure its 80 percent play and 20 percent learning.
- See how the teachers interact with other kids, as negative people can create a very bad early impression on toddlers.
- Choose something close to home as toddlers may have to come back soon and rest.
Do not choose if:
- They only showcase their furniture and flashy infrastructure and dont talk about your kids development. As toddlers find sand and tiny bits of paper too interesting
- If there are too many kids or too little kids. I have seen dingy places packed with kids who keep falling on each other and there is no use of a playgroup with no kids.
- If there are no safety measures, if they allow you in as a visitor with no checkpoints, then definitely dont go there again.
- Too money minded and only talk about packages and discounts etc.
- Its just about a brand, brands may work for schools but playgroups are just an extension of your home play area, toddlers barely know how to speak, so choose a place which is friendly and more like home.