Top 5 Characteristics of a Great Playgroup

Playgroups can be so much fun for you and your child, but there’s no denying that some groups are better than others. Even if you find a group that meets all your needs regarding size and location, you will likely notice certain characteristics that make some playgroups better than others. Here is a list of the top five characteristics of a great playgroup – does your playgroup measure up?

No Comparisons or Complaints
Playgroup should never be about which mom has regained her figure the soonest, who has the best stroller or the biggest house, or whose baby is sitting, crawling, walking and doing algebra first. Of course, a little bragging is to be expected, but playgroup is not a contest. You are not there to compete or compare, you are there to relax, have fun and make new friends.

Furthermore, playgroup is also not a complaint session, where the parents spend two hours complaining about their spouses. Instead, the other moms or dads should be supportive and warm and friendly with each other. Once they get to know you, they should be willing to give a pat on the back when it’s called for and a helping hand when needed.

Safe Location
You should feel safe in the place where your group meets. Of course, you cannot expect every home to be totally baby-proofed, but the dedicated play area should be as safe as possible. If you notice something potentially harmful or something that creates a particularly dangerous fascination for your child, alert the hostess to make arrangements to remove or cover the item during playgroup at her house. A tactful suggestion should be all that’s needed.

If your playgroup includes a wide range of ages from infants to preschoolers, the group should set aside a safe, babies-only floor space that’s clearly off limits to the more rambunctious older kids.

Children’s Behavior
Preschoolers are naturally more rambunctious than toddlers, so playgroup should be organized in such a way that the children’s behavior does not get out of hand. No matter what their ages are, children should not be allowed to play unattended. Conflicts can occur and quickly escalate to violence. Instead, the children should be supervised during the entire playtime by alternating among the parents or by keeping the children in the same room with the parents. Even so, parents should be alert and watchful of their own children and not expect other parents to discipline them.

Compatible Parenting Styles
The other parents should have parenting styles compatible with or complementary to your own. Keep in mind that discipline varies along a wide spectrum among adults, from indulgence to corporal punishment. Prepare to be tolerant. However, if you feel uncomfortable with the other parents’ discipline methods, perhaps this is not the playgroup for you.

Click or Clique
Some kids are bound to find their best friends in playgroup, and sometimes their moms will too. Sometimes you will just click with another mom or an entire group, and everyone gets along wonderfully. Other groups tend to form cliques that make others feel like outsiders, while some groups are friendlier to newcomers than others. You have no need to be part of a group that makes you feel left out, so find a new group if this is the case.

However, keep in mind that it takes two to form a friendship. If others are not making an effort, perhaps you should go the extra mile to get to know the other parents. Give them time to get to know you, and vice versa. You may be surprised to find that you have more in common with these other parents than you first thought.

About the Author:
Carren W. Joye is the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups. A homeschooling mom of four children, she has founded four successful playgroups and one homeschool support group as well as helped start countless other playgroups around the world via