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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Is preschool replacing playgroups?

One of Toddler in Chief's playgroups has all but dissolved. All of the women are just weeks from Laborland and Newbornville, so they aren't making it to the park. I'm sure they're home feeling large and are focused on finalizing the nest.

For TIC, those weekly groups are his primary socialization with other kids. Sure we go to the park and the zoo and have play dates, but those groups are a staple in his life. Perhaps the absent moms aren't so worried about a lack of socialization because many of their kids are enrolled in preschool. To me, it seems so strange to put a 2 1/2-year-old kid in preschool. But the moms have been pleased with the results because they combine chunks of socialization, with structured activities, and other adults in authoritative rolls.

Could it be that preschools are replacing playgroup? Now that we have moms' night out without kids, why do we need playgroups? It was really all about the moms anyway. The fact that the kids got to play together was an extra benefit the way a dollop of whip cream enhances a tasty mug of hot chocolate. And if there is a program doing what the playgroups were doing--socializing the kids--then why bother?

Sam over at PlayIsTheWork is on the other end of the spectrum. She had a post earlier this month that talked about why her five-year-olds are not in kindergarten. Rather, they started pre-K this year. She wrote, "One more year to further develop their social, emotional and yes, their academic independence before being faced with the rigors of kindergarten." I'm a big advocate of having lots of time for free-play, downtime, and boredom. Sam wrote:
"...children are overstressed and over scheduled, and we parents are suffering under unreasonable expectations and a pervasive sense of guilt. Too much of childhood has been taken over by preparations for adulthood--to the point that young kids’ afternoons are being scheduled with an eye toward college admissions. If it were not so harmful to parents and kids alike, it would be funny."
There are zillions of activities we're supposed to have our kids in so that they are well-adjusted and well-rounded by the time they start school. But sometimes all that activity seems like overkill. I'd love a three-hour break while my kid is in preschool, but not at the price of pushing my kid into a structured environment too soon. A lifetime of structure isn't that far away.


  1. Here here! But as a homeschooler, I'm still doing playdates and playgroups with my 5 year old and 2 1/2 year old. So there are groups to be found. It should be more prevalent.

  2. I found that my daughter's playgroup has changed drastically now that she's over the two-year mark. You're right -- the mom/kids in preschool no longer come. They're busy doing other things. Those of us attending at this point are the ones who've decided to wait and put our kids in preschool at age three.

    At that point, I'm not sure what will become of our group, but I fear it will fall by the wayside. Too bad! I find playgroup an essential part of my life.