The “benefits” of playgroup

Thing 1, although she’s big for her age, just turned two last month.  Inevitably, someone will ask me if she goes to playgroup.  Now, please understand that “playgroup” does not mean a group of moms who get their kids together so that a good time can be had by all.  I’d have no problem with that.   “Playgroup” means a half-dozen two-year-olds and a “teacher” meeting three mornings a week so that the parents can have a break. 

Playgroup, also known as “school” (some even have their own yellow school buses), is supposed to be beneficial because it provides two-year-olds with socialization opportunities, structure, and the chance to gain some independence.  Let’s examine each of these in turn, shall we?

1. Socialization opportunities.  What social skills do two-year-olds learn from each other?  Many two-year-olds are pre-verbal.  Even the ones that aren’t are  still prone to frequent tantrums.  At this stage, kids do “parallel play”, when they play next to each other, rather than with each other.  Until they notice that one of their “friends” has a toy they want.  This leads to hitting, fighting and crying.  Let’s face it.  Most kids this age have the social finesse of Beatrix Potter’s Fierce Bad Rabbit.

2. Structure.  I once saw a sight that would have been funny if it hadn’t been so pathetic.  A dance class for toddlers was participating in the studio’s annual recital.  These kids, in shimmering costumes and more makeup than JonBenet, were supposed to be doing a dance to “Let Me Entertain You.”  Instead, they stood in their places, shuffled their feet, and stared straight ahead with a deer in the headlights look.  The moral of that story is: toddlers are too young for that sort of structure.  You can’t force it.

3. Independence:  Please.  They’re not moving out and getting jobs next week.   Thing 1 needs me.  I’m her mommy!  I’m supposed to kiss her boo-boo’s, read her stories, and give her “mommy hugs!”  She’s still in diapers!  She still needs me to tie her little shoes!  I’m not going to push her out of the nest yet.  Besides, even spending all day with me, she still wants to “do self-self” plenty of times.

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 1:08 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. While I agree with most of your post, some times a few hours at “school” can be a good thing. My youngest (2 1/2) goes a couple of mornings a week. This allows me time to work with my teenage son and 9 year old.
    That is the beauty of home school.

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