A Parent and Toddler Group is an informal group within the local community, which provides an opportunity for young children and their parents/carers to meet. All groups offer opportunities for friendship, learning and play.
Who runs the group?
A voluntary committee of parents/carers is formed, and officers (members with responsibilities) are elected/appointed. The committee (with the support of all the other parents attending the group), oversee the smooth running of the group.
Who uses the group?
Parents, guardians, grandparents, aunts, uncles, childminders and nannies are welcome to attend the group.
How long is a session?
The groups usually meet one morning a week for approximately 2 hours. If there is a good up-take and the demand is there, this could be extended to two mornings a week.
What fees should be charged?
A small fee is charged to cover rent, snacks, insurance, toys etc.
What does the group offer?
Some groups have children as their primary focus and provide activities such as painting, play dough, sand and water play, music, books, games, singing, storytelling, jigsaws etc. These activities promote learning through play.
Other groups focus on the parents, and provide adult activities and speaker. Many groups aim to strike a balance between the children’s needs and the adults’ needs.
The group also provides parents with a safe and supportive place to address the challenges and joys of being a parent. For first time parents this support is invaluable. It also challenges isolation, especially for parents on their own, or living in rural areas, who can develop deep and lasting friendships from the group.
All groups strive to provide a secure, friendly, supportive and safe environment for babies, toddlers and young children’s needs and the adults’ needs.
In a Parent and Toddler Group parents/carers stay with their children, and are responsible for them at all times.
What happens during a Parent and Toddler Session?
A number of parents will arrive before opening time, to prepare the room and to set up the Play Activities.
- All parents and children are welcomed.
- New members are welcomed by a designated adult and introduced to a few parents at first, and to the group’s routine
- Birthdays are celebrated and other special events and parties are organised
- As the group is also a meeting place for parents, it will give them the opportunity to share parenting experiences etc.
- As well as assisting with the children’s activities for the morning, the parents may have a guest speaker invited, for example, a Speech and Language Therapist, Public Health Nurse, Child Psychologies etc.
- A light snack is available for children and adults (remember keep hot drinks away from children’s reach)
- All parents/carers and children help at “Tidy Up” time
Venues for Parent and Toddler Groups are diverse and include church halls, community centres, schools, health centres, sports centres, hotels and purpose built premises.
Fingal County Childcare Committee’s Role
Without parents and carers these groups could not exist. Each parent/carer is responsible for their child throughout each session. They should ensure their child’s safety and encourage interactions for the child to develop socially. Parents also socialise and share experiences with each other during the sessions.
Starting a Parent and Toddler Group