Here is a descriptive post about the playgroup sessions and it will be attached to the ‘About the playgroup’ page for the reference of interested parents and friends. I also promise to take and put real photos soon…
What happens in the one hour
In a typical session, parents and children arrive and are given brief information about emergency exits, where to get a drink and to keep activities in one place as much as possible.
Depending on the child, I may accompany her to an appropriate activity and introduce her to its use and then slip away so she can further explore on her own. Another child might choose to stay close to his parent in which case, I may introduce an activity to the parent so that the child can watch and perhaps have a go later. Sometimes, to encourage the child to spend time with materials by himself, I might invite his parent to come away and fill out a registration form.
This continues for another 20 minutes and when the children appear more comfortable with the surrounding, they are gathered into a group for music and songs. Then they continue with introduction and exploration of the activities as before and the session may finish with another group with a story or a game.
My interaction with your child
There are some very general rules that guide the session. These rules relate to respectful use of things and treatment of people in the room. For example, you might hear me say, ‘This is a chair and it is for sitting,’ or ‘so-and-so is using this right now so it’s not available. Maybe there is something else.’ You might also see me not responding to a child trying to say something to me.-That will only be the case if I am speaking to another child/ adult. I assure you I am generally very polite and do not tend to ignore people but it is important that I model paying attention to what I am doing and to the person I am speaking with, and it gives the child a natural opportunity to practise waiting. – An easily achieveable and wonderful skill which families will appreciate.
First few sessions
Getting used to being around other children and people, having to respect communal rules and being held accountable for their actions can be very new to some children. Different courtesies are emphasised according to different children’s needs. For example, one session, I might encourage Emily to return things to its basket before taking something else out. On another session, I might draw attention to the fact that Daniel is going to try and walk around things on the floor. So if you see me saying different things to different children, it is because they are all different and need different support at different times and it’s alright that they take time to assimilate sociable behaviour.
What you can do
As you can imagine, your child is very comfortable and familiar with you. This also means that she can be quite reliant on you, especially among other children. The amount of choice, freedom and restriction given to her in the session is entirely dependant on you and what you are currently comfortable with. -This is meant to be an empowering experience for parents. However, you are strongly encouraged to take as many little steps back as possible if you observe your child begins to be involved in what he is doing. Learning to be with and by oneself is vital to your child’s happiness.