Playgroups' Positive Impact on Parenting

Author: one tough job

Meet our Guest Blogger: Emilee Reynolds is a parent and early educator in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. She currently works with families as a playgroup facilitator for Child Care of the Berkshires.

Playgroups are an organized early childhood event where parents come together with their children. There are many benefits for the children, including social interaction, activities to promote cognitive development, play-based learning, exposure to diversity, and introduction to structure and routines outside of the home.

What has a more significant benefit on the children is the positive impact playgroups have on their parents. I live in a rural community in Western Massachusetts, where every family has a different background. The one thing they have in common is feeling like they are not good enough parents.

This is where playgroups can help. All parents can struggle with isolation. It is difficult to get out of the house with children, go to unfamiliar places, and feel like an outsider in a new group. However, it is important to find other parents to connect with because isolation is a leading cause of child abuse and neglect. When a parent is home alone day after day with their children, the pressure mounts, making them feel like they are the only ones going through the struggle. But when parents realize they are not alone in the hard parts of parenting, they feel comforted. Many parents have found friends through playgroups leading to help when support is limited. Being able to connect with someone when things are mounting at home is invaluable: it can help them through a low mental health day or prevent them from doing something regrettable to their child.

Many parents want to give their young children the best learning opportunity. Still, limited childcare slots for infants and toddlers, as well as the mounting costs of childcare, prevent parents from doing so in the traditional way. Playgroups are often facilitated by qualified early childhood specialists who understand what children need at different ages. They set up activities to promote developmental learning while also allowing for free play, which is a key opportunity to encourage social, emotional development. They are also able to help problem-solve with parents who are struggling or are unsure if their child is on track. A little reassurance from someone in their corner can boost a parent’s self-esteem.

Parents can take leadership actions in playgroups. They can bring a healthy snack to share, help clean up an activity, give input on the program, or bring a new family to playgroup. This leads to positive self-actualization, no matter how small the leadership action is.

Not one new parent has come into the playgroup without some anxiety. Still, as time goes on, they grow into confident parents ready to offer others support. They understand they are doing the best they can for their child that every day is different, and they aren’t alone on their parenting journey. As an early educator of 15 years, watching the positive effects playgroup has on parents has been one of the most rewarding experiences.

This blog post was originally featured on Transforming Early Childhood Education.

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Now more than ever, all parents need support. We are committed to providing moms and dads with resources as we continue to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic. Check out our list of virtual parenting support groups and playgroups across Massachusetts. We will continue to update, so check back for a virtual parenting support group in your area.