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Baby and toddler groups! Help!

(12 Posts)
Sharkbaithoohaha Tue 12-Sep-17 17:47:56

I would like to ask for your opinions! I work in childcare and I'm about to start a baby and toddler group.
What have you enjoyed most from baby and toddler groups?
What would you expect from it and what has been your worst experience?

Many thanks smile

InDubiousBattle Tue 12-Sep-17 21:40:47

I have a 3.9 year old and a 2.2 year old and i'm a SAHM. I have been to many baby and toddler groups! I have two favourite, one at the children's centre and one in a scout hut. The children's centre one has great facilities for the kids, a sand pit, water table thing and fantastic staff who are lovely. They have the outside set up broadly the same every week but inside they have different crafts/activities set up, they do play, then snack, story then songs at the end. They have a small corner for babies and dc are welcome from birth to school. Both kids love it.
The other one is in a scout hut. It's run by a former cm who now looks after her grandson. It's chairs arranged in a semi circle and a load of toys in the middle. Snack for the kids and a cup of tea/coffee for adults. Songs at the end. My dc enjoy it (although ds sometimes gets a bit bored)but prefer the other one. I prefer this one because I get a brew! There are more regulars at this one so i've made some good friends. All of the mums and cm are really friendly.

Worst one? One had lots of Very Organised Activities. The woman who ran it expected the children to join in very obediently and produce very nice pictures that could go on the Facebook page. She had organised her friend who was a professional photographer to take pictures to try and flog us and got a bit arsey when I said I didn't want pictures of my dc on her fb page.

A couple I've been to have things like bowls full of sequins and glitter at one end of a hall and a climbing frame type thing at the other which are tricky when you have two dc!

BexleyRae Tue 12-Sep-17 22:05:57

I like groups that offer messy play, like shaving foam or jelly so my DD can make a mess and I don't have to clean up like at home.
Also like pp, not too much organised play, I went to a lovely group where there was an organised activity each week, but also there was plenty to keep the ones occupied if they didn't want to take part.
A cup of tea is very much appreciated as well

tissuesosoft Tue 12-Sep-17 22:13:23

I've only been to one which I'm half and half about. Things I don't like- it's extremely structured, play is from x to y time, singing is x to y time, you get x amount of time to drink a tea/coffee, it can be cliquey. Things I like- a lot of big toys that they change every week e.g. Soft play blocks on week then a mini climbing frame with slide the following week, they have a hairdresser that comes in every 6 weeks and does on the spot haircuts for the kids.

Sharkbaithoohaha Wed 13-Sep-17 12:31:38

Thank you so much for these comments! They have really helped me!
I work in a forest school so this is an outdoor baby and toddler group! smile
This is completely new to me. I've worked in childcare before but to run a group with parents/grandparents there is a bit nerve-racking!
At least I know I can make it more relaxed. I'm going to set up an area where parents can relax and offer drinks!
Also a nice area for babies to explore and play!
Thank you! smile x

vlooby Wed 13-Sep-17 12:43:16

I think I've found it really helps to have clearly defined spaces for bin walking babies, as otherwise there's a risk they get trampled!

TheWeeWitch Wed 13-Sep-17 12:55:11

I also dislike structured groups. Part of the attraction of baby group is that the children can play in a safe and stimulating environment while you get to interact with other parents. A song at the beginning and/or the end is a nice introduction and a good way to say goodbye, but 20min of sitting in a circle is really not my bag.

BackforGood Thu 14-Sep-17 00:14:26

I think it is a completely different set up, and it is important to remember that a 'Stay and Play' is often as much about getting parents out of the house, and giving them the chance to chat with other adults, as it is about the activity.
Don't be too keen to 'organise' too much would be my advice.
Remember you will get a lot of carers who are not the baby's Mum - many grandparents, some Dad's and you need to decide if you will include CMers or not.

Earlyriser84 Thu 14-Sep-17 00:27:48

I love the group I go to. It really helped when I was finding it hard to manage a baby and a toddler.

What helped was an area for the adults to have a brew , a structured area with different crafty type activity each week and a designated soft baby area. And toys set out everywhere else. It meant I could plonk baby safely in the baby area, have a brew and observe the toddler !

TheRe is a snack time for the little ones half way through too. It's lovely

heresn0ddy Thu 14-Sep-17 00:31:38

Nothing too organised.

Just scatter some toys and books around, area for messy play, chance for parents to have a hot drink for a change, fab!

Also a big age range, birth - 5 is good. I'm not going to arrange childcare for one kid to go to an hour long play session with another. I want to take them together.

I dislike places where they have a rigid time table for planned activities

InDubiousBattle Thu 14-Sep-17 12:44:46

If it's a forest area then shelter, weather, access and enclosure will be your biggest issues!

Gottalovesummer Fri 15-Sep-17 09:27:36

I've been going to groups for 12 years as a mum and childminder. Our current one is our favourite! There are 2 tables of crafts/messy play, but absolutely no obligation to take part. Free play while adults can have a cuppa.
Snack time where kids sit together at little tables, they love it. More play them finish with singing

So, in summary, lots of unorganised play, crafts for those that want it and sociable time fortified adults

Good luck.

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