Thursday, 4 October 2007

Running a Toddler Group






I think toddler groups are great. They are usually run by a church (a great example of active practical modernday Christianity) are staffed by volunteers (seem to be many retired ladies among the numbers) and cost a pittance to enter. They provide a social network for (often) isolated young Mums and give their kids a great place to play and find new friends. I used to plan my week round them when my kids were little and had a complicated schedule involving many toddler groups in different locations When they got older I decided I would do something back and ran my own toddler group for two and half years with the help of a friend.
We used a church hall and got the use of their Playgroup equipment but also bought our own things with the proceeds. I thought a Wendy House as a focal point for the group, and we got a very good one from somebody's garden which I spent a long time cleaning in readiness. The little girls liked chatting through the shutters and the little boys like climbing on the roof, I seem to remember. We also got a toddler garden with bendy flowers to go with it. What with tots rushing about in cars, buggies pulling carts, our rocking horse and slides it was like a mini-village with little Munchkin inhabitants. We got some carpets from the local carpet shop for the tiny toddlers to play on, and as something soft to land on at the end of a toddler slide, and to keep their behinds clean as the floor was very mucky, due to various other church activities.
I didn't mind doing this (there was a bit of self interest involved here, unlike the selflessness of the older ladies) as I got there very early and it gave my kids lots of time to play on the equipment and work off their energy and whizz up and down on a trike in a church hall (a lot more room than a house, also the sounds are diffused somewhat)useful if it was raining. We used to arrange all the toys on the carpets artistically so it was welcoming.
I used to make the tea and as a result can estimate how many tea bags to put in an industrial teapot , according to to numbers. I also know scientifically what people's favourite biscuits seem to be, and they are Chocolate Hobnobs.
At Christmas we did a party and I had to talk people into being Father Xmas. One year it was somebody's Grandad, and one year everybody chickened out and it was Mark, though at least he was in disguise when he did it so didn't dent his street cred too much. At Easter we did a Treasure Hunt with eggs and bunnies bought from Lidl, and at the Golden Jubilee we did a party with red, white and blue bunting and bouncy castles, and me doing face painting of the Union Jack on the kid's faces. Sometimes there is nothing wrong with being a little patriotic, especially when you consider the often unsung and unfashionable work done by people in the Methodist Church and Church of England in this country.


18 comments:

laurie said...

i worked at "children's church" for a few years when i was in junior high. it was really just a daycare in the church for the very small kids while their parents were at service.

it was a lot of fun, but i remember one day a little kid fell down and banged her knee, and the minister's wife cuddled her and said, "do you want to pray about it?" and i thought hmmmmm.... i don't think that's what she wants right now.....

Frances said...

Know what you mean. I lived for a long time in a country where poor people could only go to hospitals run by various religious groups. If they were in a terrible accident and someone stupidly took them to one of the main hospitals, they would have to lie on the floor and wait to be seen until people could find out who their local religious leader was and if he would stump up the cash for treatment. Yet the grip of the religious leaders was sometimes really horrendous.

Beverley said...

I am against bigotted religion but fortunately in this country we have a tolerant and realistic church (though probably dying out), like a lot of our institutions,and I think things like this reflect the best of it. At no time was religion forced upon us. The ladies who ran things like this had sincere Christian beliefs which they put to good use. And they had done it for years. It's not often nowadays that you get something done for nothing. I will always feel very grateful to them as it certainly helped me out!

Beverley said...

Frances, I think I'm getting to know you. I think you say 'Know what you mean' when you don't quite agree with something but are too nice to say it lol

Beverley said...

Laurie, funny story! I do remember a daycare holiday club run by a Church during the school holidays, and as it was cheap I used it. I remember having to suppress a smile when I picked them up and someone was on the stage singing 'Come By Ya' with a guitar. But they were virtually volunteering to look after my kids and giving them a lot of fun so a small about of proselytising is fair enough. It's not as if they're showing them video nasties.lol

Frances said...

I should have said, know what you mesn, Laurie - re mixed feelings about charitable religious groups. LOL Bev, don't you trust me?

Frances said...

or even mean - not mesn - my glasses are a bit sticky and I can't see the diff, just noticed it as I clicke on Publish.

Beverley said...

Not worried about it! Just shows how nice you are. It's not as if you went into a rant or anything! It's just a kind way of expressing ambivalence, and I notice you have used it before!

Beverley said...

Anyway I thought you were referring to the contents of the post and it got a bit nationalistic towards the end so I've toned it down. Shades of the National Front lol

Frances said...

Like your header. Is that you then?
Or is it Chaos in disguise?

Frances said...

Bovver boys and Doc Martins. The National Front seem quite popular here. North Devon is very racist, not sure why, there are hardly any foreigners, apart from an influx of Poles recently.
My daughter gets a lot of racist abuse, which is really weird.

Frances said...

What about the Roman Catholics then?
tee hee - and the Quakers, Society of Friends and all that. Equal ops. Thought I should re-read and see what NF stuff you'd written. Haven't found it yet, but will be watching. Know what I mean?
I've got very fond of you Bev, so you'll have to excuse me getting silly.
LOL

Bobbie said...

Kids are your special gift I can see that from your posts. You just light up when you talk about kids.

Sweet Irene said...

I thought I would put my two cents worth in, not having been around for a while. I prefer it if there are non denominational, non profit day care groups available and there should be, being the true socialist that I am. I don't want my little kids exposed to religion at such a tender age when they are so easily impressed with heaven and God and Jesus. Maybe they don't have any of that in England, but they are big on it in the States. Got to convert those little souls! A dangerous amount of religious acceptance sneaks into daily life. In God we trust and one nation under God and all that!

Beverley said...

I agree, Sweet Irene, that religion is a bad thing for small children. I have read and watched on TV quite a bit about religious fundamentalism taking hold in large parts of the US.

However, one of the reasons I am so glad to live in Britain is that our national church is so tolerant and practical, as I have said before. While not being religious I have benefited greatly from the activities in the Church Halls around me, staffed by volunteers, including these toddler groups, and also Cub Scouts and Brownies, which both my kids attended. The best of British!

Frances, I am glad you like my new header. I came across it when I was searching for a picture the right size for my header. I think it was something Eleanor and her friend downloaded from High School, The Musical. I finally decided on this picture after trying out a few others. But, in hindsight, the water looks rather like the water you used on your Two Things Challenge so maybe that is why I choose it. Funny what sticks in the mind. Maybe I see myself as some blond Greek Goddess of the ancient myths, seeing as I was thinking about them at the time......

Beverley said...

Frances, It is quite racist round here too. Maybe it is because it is so out of the way that you hardly ever see any other people of different backgrounds. Probably ignorance and lack of experience of integration play a part.

laurie said...

hey beverley, re the remark you left on my blog (dog lumps): i'm glad you didn't opt for the surgery. those are often just fatty deposits, and they show up on dogs as they get older. boscoe has a couple of them, too.

fortunately, our vet isn't totally about money, and he told us this and said we shouldn't worry about getting them removed unless they grew and got very hard. (in which case they might be something more serious.)

Frances said...

Wow on the header - wowie - nice and psychedelic