It’s amazing how each stage of parenting takes us a little by surprise. We cannot picture the next phase and how we will ever be ready for it. And then boom, it sneaks up. I clearly recall thinking I would never be ready for my son to go away for university and now I am there and actually its okay, I am coping.
Likewise, you cannot imagine when you hold your little new baby how you will be ready for the play group stage and then one day you wake up and have a real sense that he needs a little more stimulation or social interaction that he is getting. When this realization sneaks up on you, you will also realize very clearly that you have no idea what the best options are.
It’s very important as you start to think about play group that you consider the needs of a two-year-old.
- Until your baby is close to 2 years old, the best place for him to be cared for is in a focused relationship – this may be with you at home, a family member, a nanny or maybe a day mom. Whichever route you go, make sure the person who cares for your little one is emotionally attached to him and loves him. This is the most important thing.
- From 24 months, you can start to look at play groups, as long as the group is small – no more than 4-6 children to one carer.
- Home based play groups are optimal until your little one is 3 years old – try to find a lovely home-from-home space – this makes the transition from home to school easier
- Take time to interview the teacher. She should have a good sense of the role of play and how little ones develop. Her program should preferably a focus on imaginary play as the catalyst for emotional development, language and executive function
- Make sure the school is a safe environment and that the teacher is first-aid trained
Once you have chosen your child’s school, take a deep breath – you are going to need to be brave as you see your little one into this new phase.