Toddler Groups - Help(17 Posts)
Not sure I'm under the right heading, but anyway!
I help run a toddler group (birth to 5) and we are losing people. We are struggling to cover costs at the moment. I know we are stuck in a rut, some of the toys need to be replaced. But no one will really tell us what they want from a toddler group. So can you tell me what you'd like at a group please? TIA
The best playgroup I go to has
Decent Toys including a play kitchen with lots of bits
A puzzle table
A good craft activity
Play doh with rollers cutters
A drawing/colouring table
Snack time for kids, tea for adults
Singing time at the end
How much do you charge?
Do you advertise?
We have a huge play kitchen with toys, colouring is always out. We have lots of play dough, as we make our own. Parents don't seem to join in with the organised crafts. Tea, biscuits, juice/water and snack are available. We charge £1.25 per adult, snack eaters are 75p, non eaters are free. Party at Summer and Christmas. We used to do singing, but lots left before to get out of tidying! We do advertise and are right next to a primary school. The group has been there for 25 years.
Ours is £3 per family (however many children you bring). We do playing with different toys each week (we're in the next room from a preschool) and a craft. Then it's tidy up time, snack, outside play if it's dry and then singing at the end.
Everyone pitches in with the tidying so it makes it easier for the organisers.
Most only bring one child, so its £2. We rotate our toys apart from the real favourites. We have garden but because the sun doesn't hit till lunchtime it stays damps, we do have mums help tidy up, so thats not too much trouble.
I pay three pound a child that includes fruit snack, coffee and singing time...it's a small group in a local church but I really go because the people are so nice! As its a small area everyone is included but it's really for younger babies/toddlers.
- consider different zones for different ages - my dd is still unsteady on her feet and often gets trampled by some of the nearly 5 year old.
- staff/volunteers who actually engage with parents rather than just talk to the 'in crowd'
- designated parent or volunteer to welcome newer or shyer parents
- if time permits could you offer a get to know you home visit if a health visitor or simillar thought it would help support attendance?
- crafts suitable for all.including the very little ones
I went to once that did actual homemade cake! More than happy to pay a little extra.
Could you run it for a longer time? I value the ones that go on for 2 hours vs an hour as sometimes naps etc stop me getting there on time.
Our playgroup sound very much like WoodenSpoons, and is a popular well regarded group..
We charge £1.50 if under 1, £3 if over 1 plus 50p per additional child in the family. Your group sounds very cheap. Would people be willing to pay a bit more?
we have healthy snacks including fruit for the children and then tea / coffee / chocolate biscuits for the adults.
We just about break even on weekly running costs and do fundraising to raise money for insurance, parties and new equipment.
Our toddler group did a bring and buy sale which the parents enjoyed. Could you try something like that to kick start it again?
How's your advertising- have you got a Facebook page etc?
I do think singing or story time at the end is a nice way to round off the session.
Tea or coffee for parents is a must! What kind of snack do the children get? Could it be varied to give more variety? Snack time is the highlight for my ds. They have lovely things like brioche/melon/popcorn/grapes etc
I also value a well organised snack time as dd gets very upset if she misses out on a snack.
Imo tea/biscuits for the adults is pointless if you are actually supervising your child - adults passing tea over my child gives me the rage. Hot drink time either needs to be organised (half of parents drink at a time while the other half supervise) or hot drinks banned as in all of our children's centres.
Oddly, in the 6 years since I started going to toddler groups, I've noticed that they are definitely quieter now than they were then. I used to have to make sure I was there at 10 on the dot to have a chance of getting in, and now if I get there at 10 I'm often the first there.
Your pricing seems reasonable, if a little complicated - the basic church hall type ones where I am are £2 (and 50p per extra child) or £3 for a slightly bigger affair with a separate craft room. Snack is a rich tea/ fruit plus juice/ water and if I didn't want my child to have a snack I wouldn't care about paying the flat fee for entrance and bringing my own.
I'd also say that I often leave before tidy up time, not because I'm a particular shirker, but if I want to get home, feed 18 month old DD and get her down for a nap I need to leave at 11:30 not 12 when the group finishes. When she's older I'll stay until the end.
Ours is very popular with people travelling from other villages to attend,
£2 per family.
Song time to begin with in separate room, however we usually skip this and go straight to the play room.
Large church hall. Segregated baby area. Tables with craft activity, play doh and tanks top toys.
Play kitchen, trampoline, ride on toys.
Cars, dinosaurs, large bricks.
Snack is quite a bit. Biscuits, choc biscuits like kitkats, pancakes, cheese, 4/5 different fruits, juice, tea and coffee. I think half the appeal to the parents is the snack!
Last Easter we did a sponsored toddle in the Easter bonnets the children had made over 2/3 weeks. We walked along the seafront then had an Easter party. This helped raise funds for toys.
Every 3 months or so they hold a chill out night for parents to get together in the hall. It's z good way to meet others and chat without the children!
My beloved group runs 9:30-11:30 50p per child but I always give £1 as I can't see how she manages on 50!
It's tea and biscuits for the adults, snack time for the little ones - raisins, breadsticks, orange segments cut up. The occasional Ella's puff "crisp"
There craft rotated each week - play doh, colouring, sticking, chalk boards.
Toys are zoned - baby play mats, reading corner, kitchen stuff, big toys eg trampoline & slide, bricks and little toys like dinosaurs.
Everyone helps tidy up and there's singing with instruments at the end.
It's held in a church but religious songs and stories never pushed. The church ladies often give presents like little Christmas items and mini eggs at Easter all free of charge.
I run a toddler group and our numbers have dropped off a bit but some weeks we are heaving other weeks very quiet.
We have a good social media presence which definitely helps and I do make homemade cake every week for the adults!
I think lots of people work p/t so on their non working days sometimes toddler group aren't a priority.
It sounds like you are doing everything right and hopefully things will pick up.
I do pop in to local "early days" group run by Health Visitor for new mums to chat and let them know about our group, and we are linked to our local Surestart centre which basically means they list our group and we share their contact details etc.
When I started running the group 6 years ago and the 4 years before that, we regularly had 40 kids a week over the 2 days we run, and the majority of those parents didn't work.
It's a very different demographic now and I live in a pricey bit of the Southwest which sees both parents working and I've noticed we get lots more childminders and nannies than we used to.
Hope things pick up soon.
The other thing that occurred to me is that you could do a specific bumps to babies group to get your customers in "early" who then grow up with the playgroup. You may also get more traction as a lot of toddler mums work, but almost everyone now takes maternity leave and wants to get out of the house! Do you advertise in the GPs waiting rooms or sure start centres? They are good starting points. And YY to a good socal media presence.
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