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Toddler and Baby groups(19 Posts)
I have been asked to take an active role in my local toddler and baby group which almost closed a few weeks ago as there were only 3 attendees and no one to run it.
It runs from 9.30-11.15 in term time only in a lovely big hall. There are loads of great toys and the fee is 50p for babies and 1.50 for toddlers. Toast, fruit, tea/ coffee, juice and water are provided for the children and adults.
To give me some idea of things we may start, stop or continue please tell me about the groups you attend, what you like about them and what you don't. Thanks.
A bit of messy play goes down well, as does the opportunity to do some singing/dancing, wind down story time too. Good luck with it all
Can you afford to advertise it lots, even with photocopied flyers?
The most popular toddler group around our way has an attempt at separating the baby and toddler sections, leaders who keep an eye on toddlers if mum is with the baby (or vice versa, offering to hold the baby for a bit), and lots of cheap crafts for the toddlers - paper, glue, that sort of thing.
What I do remember most from when I was back finding which groups I liked was sessions where someone greeted you and made an effort if it was the first time. So they'd have a friendly chat and also used to steer you towards other mums, either ones they knew were chatty or someone else who seemed a bit on their own. It only took a minute or two but it was nice to have someone to do a bit of an ice breaker for you.
My baby loves nursery rhymes, he is too young to join in but loves bouncing along.
I'm not very good at groups, I'm a bit of a wall hugger and not great at mingling. I love baby groups that have some sort of structured activities - nursery rhymes with a leader, some sort of sensory play, that kind of thing. There is one near me that seems quite good that rotates its sessions, so one week is messy play, one week is singing, one is - well I forget, but you get the idea.
Create a Facebook group to promote it? Put a homemade flier at your gps? Surestart etc?
Messy play days?
Theme days? For Easter, Xmas, Diwali etc.
Maybe scout for mums at other groups on other days?!
I have run two different baby and toddler groups for many years.
Get one of those railing banners and find a prominent place to display it near to your venue. About £60 to get one made if you deign it yourself. This is a great way to get people to know you are there.
Different price for babies and toddlers is odd and not something I've know before. You need a grip on your finances, what can you afford? One of my toddler groups charges 50p per family (no matter how many children) and another charges £1.50 per family - because has much higher overheads like rent and insurance.
You will be eligible to lots of local and national grants and funding. Look on your council website for community groups funding. We've had a national lottery grant and several local grants. Basically we look for funding on an annual basis.
No point getting funding if you have no new members though. Railing banner. Poster/leaflets in local library, post office and schools. Piles of business cards advertising in hairdressers, beauty salons, shops, leisure centres, gyms etc. Facebook page. Word of mouth - tell people about it at the school page, even going up to people you don't know with a pushchair and handing them a flier.
Facebook is awesome for toddler groups, advertise locally and set up a group. If there are only 3 attendees though that sounds like a big challenge. Any idea why? Is there something else going on locally at the same time?
I think attendances can be erratic though....
I found out about a local one on <whisper it> netmums. I think it's nice when the babies and toddlers are separate so you minimise trampling, where then leaders make an effort to chat (especially when you're new), special events for Christmas, easter etc and where there's a bit of structure, nothing major just 10 mins settling in then tea and 10 minutes of singing at the end. Ours is £2 per carer+child then per extra child (you can also but chocolate biscuits, twix etc for the kids) and that seems reasonable.
Also try and keep the toys clean! I know some mums who won't go to toddler groups if the toys are a bit . Not me I might add, I'm a SAHM and ds can play with anything as long as it gets me out of the house!
maybe Nicky you could offer to clean some of the toys
I didn't think they were that bad - I must have lower standards than some of my friends, I'm perfectly happy with DS chewing on anything!!
I think the most important thing is greeting new people really well. I hated the thought of toddlers but the first time I went one of the committee made an effort to say hi and make me feel really welcome, I ended up helping run it for years. If people come once and are a bit shy they may well never come back if they didn't feel really welcome
Oh and crafts are great!
I agree regards the welcoming part. Also, ours have a local drama group come in and do 30-45 mins of songs on one day, this is really good fun. One of the big attractions of ours is that its free. I think they must get funding as it is a deprived area.
And at least if it's quieter you have chance to talk to people. Ours for some totally inexplicable reason is rather the other way and so talking to everyone is impossible! I've been where you are op, its hard when hardly anyone goes. Equally there are issues if you get 50 kids, sighs I'm really worried about safety issues atm.
I think in my case I really dont want to be as closely involved as I am. I also work and really dont have the headspace.
I agree with others that I like the groups that have a friendly 'lead' volunteer on duty who notices when someone is new, says hello and introduces them to others - to be honest I dont tend to go to groups on my own any more as it just seemed to be 2 hours of sitting on my own while my son played...I try to chat to people, but without a friendly person in charge its hard as of course not the same people come each week....
also - definitely structure with nursery rhymes that is always the kids favourite bit - my son hates crafts but needs a bit of structure and loves singing. stories I always hate actually as the kids can't see the picture and under 3's are not old enough to follow a story in a group setting...always think that is more for the adult reading benefit!
I think if you are only getting a few people you have a problem wiht advertising, mums love groups to go to so find out what your local facebook mums groups are - and which cafes they go to and stick big notices up
My mum takeS DD (15 months) to a couple of groups while I work. The things she likes are a nice welcome - she's been to groups where no one has spoke to her at all, and a good selection of toys for different ages - DD particularly likes one group where there's a box of books she was flick through.
I'd be keen on safe pram storage and an all important nice feel - but not sure how you create that!
I personally tend to avoid the structured activity type of group, I have a two year old who likes to do his own thing, and a baby. I look for a good range of activities, especially the ones I can't be arsed doing at home, playdough, paints, water tray etc. a nice comfy baby corner with sheepskin type rug and treasure basket is always a bonus so that she can come out of the sling for a bit.
I forgot the most important thing for me, nice cup of tea and safe place to put down hot drinks.
Sing songs usually go well, they can be enjoyed by all ages present. Some kind of separate area for the babies is useful, because otherwise they just get trampled. If you can ring fence it with chairs, benches etc that's ideal. For the older ones, if possible it's good to have a choice of something building blocky, something draw/crafty and somewhere they can be a bit more physical.
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