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Start a Successful Playgroup

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Dads who make the decision to stay home and be primary caregivers for their children have great rewards, and they have significant challenges. One of the challenges faced by stay at home dads is the feeling of isolation and the lack of adult contact during the day. Many stay at home dads are finding playgroups to be a good option for meeting their needs and the needs of their children for socialization. Here are some thoughts about playgroups and making them successful.
Time Required: A few hours to start

Here's How:

  1. See if there is an existing playgroup. Check around with other stay at home fathers in your area to find out if there are one or more playgroups already nearby. One of our stay at home dad friends, Rebeldad, has posted a pin map to help you find playgroups around the country.
  2. Start to create a group by setting parameters. If you decide to start your own playgroup, decide what the group will be. What is the age of the children you want in your group? Will you plan activities for the children only, or also for the dads? Will you have a regular location, or do you want to rotate locations? Will you do on field trips or just stay in playgrounds?
  3. Choose a day and time. Do you want to meet weekly or less frequently? You should set a fairly regular schedule so activities will be predictable and accessible for others.
  4. Find other dads and kids. This one can be a little tricky unless you know a lot of other at home dads. Put a notice up at the local library. Watch for other dads alone with their kids at the mall, the park, and other places during the day and approach them. Not all will be stay at home dads, but they can help you get the word out. One at home father I know even had business cards printed that he could hand out to other dads who might be interested in getting together.
  5. Consider advertising. Besides notices posted in places where dads and kids go, you might consider listing your playgroup in the community calendar section of the local paper. Think about a press release about the formation of a dads and kids playgroup and get an article in the paper. You can also list your group with Rebeldad and have it included on his map.
  6. Decide about financial issues. Most dads who have started playgroups have found that there are some expenses. There may be printing and mailing costs, advertising costs, fees associated with field trips or guests. Some playgroups charge monthly dues to help defray those costs. Figure out a budget and then share the responsibility for the cost.
  7. Keep track of the group. As dads and kids join the group, keep a database of names, kids' birthdays, phone numbers, etc. It's important to keep some good records for getting in touch with participants and keeping track of who's who. You might also want to print a list for all the group members so you can connect with them outside of regular group times.
  8. Think about some dad topics while the kids play. Some playgroups with stay at home dads also identify a discussion topic for the dads while the kids are engaged in play activities. Some groups have talked about topics such as parenting issues, discipline techniques, personal health and wellness, family and marriage relationships and more.

Tips:

  1. Keep the group focused. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
  2. Keep the group small. A group of 5 to 15 children with their dads is about right.

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