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#1 Netty-Lou

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Posted 01 March 2005 - 10:11 PM

I'm sure many of you are involved in running or attend parent and toddler groups. I run one pretty much single handedly at our Baptist Church and although I would say it is a successful group I am always looking for ways to make it better and looking for opportunities for out-reach through it. What do you guys enjoy most about your parent and toddler groups and what do you think makes a good group?? :icon_lol:
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#2 suem

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 10:38 AM

Toddler groups al varu so much.

A good resource is Care for the Family, they do a "running a Toddler Group guide" (sorry can't remember the name of it). Which gives all sort of useful ideas and things to consider. Also they do a regular news letter called "playtime" which is for leaders of Toddler groups and they now have a national day for leaders to go to to get encouragement and support. They may also know if there are othe groups in your area that you could get support from. Down here 1 of the bigger groups who are self supporting were able to help a smaller group with new toys.

DOesn't directly answer your question but there is no one real answer anyway. Depends hugely on who is there and what they need. But the above a re very good resources. You can find care for the family on the internet i think it is here

hope that helps
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Edited by Hannah, 12 March 2006 - 06:25 PM.


#3 Katie

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 08:12 PM

There are lots of things I like about ours - it is forever changing....but here are my my favourites...

Toddler Praise once a month - a short service just for them at the end of the session.

Home-made cake.

Soft Play equipment as a treat every now and again.

Prayer sheet - where you can make requests for committee members to pray for you/your children/your friends or family.

New mother meals - a service run by committee to make meals and take them round for new mums.

Prayer showers for pregnant mums - to pray for them and their delivery.

Craft with a bible theme.

Singing with musical instruments.

I like the fact that some of the older women help out with coffee and tea - it means that we benefit from their wisdom as well as being waited on - which is a lovely treat.

#4 mummamelly

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 08:38 PM

Our M&T's does something called "See and Know" which is great. It's Bible songs, story and craft and alot of the songs are sung every week so the children learn them. My DS1 sings them all the time at home so I guess other children - most in non-christian homes - do to.

I think the absolute most important thing though is a friendly welcome and making sure mum's are spoken too. I've been to some awful, clicky groups where I couldn't face going again as they were so unfriendly. At one group, in my MIL's village, I was spoken to at the start, to be told how much it cost, ignored the whole session and then asked at the end if I'd like to go on the rota to help! If I'd been quicker I'd have asked if that was what you had to do to be spoken too!
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#5 Hilary

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Posted 02 March 2005 - 08:49 PM

I gave up on mums and tots groups a while ago - at the point when ds2 was so shy that he'd never get off my knee and howl the place down if I went off to get a cup of tea. We both always had such a horrible time we decided we'd prefer to stay at home. He's not like that at all now. I haven't taken dd yet because I think ds2 is too old for it all now and he would be bored. So I plan to go back when ds2 starts school.

I like mums and tots groups with enough room for everyone to play and when the seating for parents makes it easy to chat to people and not be boxed in. I like it when there are people responsible for making sure people know what's going on and make sure people get chatted to etc. There's nothing worse than walking into a mums and tots room and everyone stares at you for a few seconds, then they all go back to their conversations and proceed to ignore you for the next hour and a half.

 


#6 Anne-Marie

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 04:12 PM

There's a really large P&T group which meets in the coffee bar thingy attached to our church. The people who run it are Health Visitors and they do good stuff. But there are 30 or so adults and 40 or so kids there and DS finds it all too much, plus everybody has their own cliques and hardly anybody talks to me, so I haven't been for ages.

But i wonder if it's more of a feeling that i don't fit there, or that i don't like the fact it brings out my judgemental streak?

The last time I went a boy not far off school age was hitting a smaller child. I know that sort of thing happens all the time, but the mother's response was to hit the naughty child round the head and face repeatedly. I just stood there with my jaw on the floor :icon_redface:

And today, as people were leaving and some went home past our house, one woman shouted at her toddler daughter and called her an effing c - if you see what I mean.

It made me sad and angry and all judgemental.

But it can't be right to take the ostrich approach and just not go and not face these people, can it?

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#7 Netty-Lou

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 04:27 PM

I know what you mean Anne-marie, As I've said before, i run our church P & T group, there's one girl who comes in and she's a lovely girl but she blasphemes alot using Christ's name, and I really don't know how to handle it. It makes me cringe so much, but to challlenge her about it or ask her not to would humilliate and embarrass her, and she maybe wouldn't come back, so is it best to let it go and lead by example. I know blaspheming is common place now, but when it's in our church it seems a bit insensitive, it's hard to know what approach to take sometimes :icon_redface:
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#8 Fru

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 08:45 PM

Years ago when my 2DSs were small and we lived in Cheshire, our church had a really good toddler group. This is going back 8+ years, so hope I'm remembering right. But I think we met every week in the church centre. We used to have visiting speakers in twice a month, on a whole range of things like health, art, bringing up children.... anything that suited the interests of the mums at the time. It worked because the centre had an upstairs and a downstairs. The 'creche' would be upstairs, manned by some of the mums, whilst the meeting was downstairs. It worked really well because we all took turns at helping with the kids, and we all got a chance to get into the meeting bit on a different week. It was an overtly christian group, and it worked well. For me it was great as not living near family, I rarely got a break from the kids, and this gave me that, once in a while. And it was a place to think about stuff other than nappies!!

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#9 hepzibah

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Posted 21 June 2005 - 08:53 PM

It's a long time since I've been to a toddlers group (mine are 9 & 10 now!), but there were two I really enjoyed. One had lots of extra pairs of hands, women whose children had grown up and gone to school, but who stayed around to help others ... and they did painting and things that I found too much effort to do at home sometimes. So no-one was ever left to be on their own (except the mother of twins who came to read a book while the helpers played with her children - it was what she needed and they could provide it!), and drinks were available all morning.

The other group was designed to do 'messy' things ... there weren't any extra hands, we were all Mums of the toddlers there ... but someone put a lot of thought into the activities. There was quite a strict routine, and about half an hour of messy play - finger painting, flour and water was one I particularly remember (!), playdough - and the children were all encouraged to have a go. There were plenty of aprons etc, and we all knew to bring the children in old clothes. Then while some served drinks, the others cleared up (into really well organised boxes etc!) and we finished with a song time. [I think a group like that needs to be well financed ... the church concerned was willing to fund equipment etc.]

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#10 PremTwinMum

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 08:41 PM

Hi,
I run P & T group at our church called Acorns- I started it from scratch when my twins were one and almost sitting up (long story!). I visited other church based groups to see what they were doing, and no-body talked to me. The toys were dirty and badly kept and my premmie babies had no where safe to lie.

I decided that I would have good clean equipment- maintenance man
Great tea and coffee with decent biscuits and home made cake- catering team
Craft every week in themes, maybe termly- not bible based. Topics such as Farming, water, clothes, tv favourites etc. Singing and instruments- desperately hard to run but they love it.
My baby room had carpet, we brought the tray in. Soft sterilised equipment. Baby changing facilities, sterlizing facilities & bottle warming. Good toys and blankets.

We have a summer outing, christmas lunch together and bouncy castle.
Meals for mums (some cheeky tacked on to church socials)
A newsletter
Opportunity for prayer requests
An outdoor area for the summer- sand pit etc
Climbing toys
Home corner etc etc
Special charity days

One of the most important factors though is YOU. As a person you can make a huge difference. By the time you don't know their names, they don't speak to you, and you have no impact, it's gone pear shaped. It's really hard on your own or thereabouts.

I am the only baptised, full church mum in my church
HOW Hard is that ? Having said that- others have come to church services, on :310: e regularly and one brings a child regularly to Sunday school. Another was converted and baptised before moving on elsewhere. It's hard and my kids are now at school. There's no sign of anyone else having kids in the church, but it is the biggest outreach our church has.

I would say I'm proud of it as a 'product' but I know that's a sin!
I do it for my Lord and to the community.

All the best Amanda xx

#11 hepzibah

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Posted 22 June 2005 - 09:01 PM

Sounds great, Amanda - well done you!

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#12 Hilary

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 09:32 PM

Our group has been running for about 6 months now, and while we have made every effort to make it a friendly group, and most people who come say it is friendly, there are a couple of people who've said they feel excluded from the group, and not very welcomed. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how we can make sure we include everyone, and how we can spot people who might not feel like they are fitting in as well as they'd like? Do any of you do any socials for just the parents ever? How do you make sure people don't get missed?

Thanks.

 


#13 Annie

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Posted 03 March 2006 - 10:51 PM

Tricky one really. How many people do you have helping out - we have four people "on duty" and I guess between us we try and make sure everyone gets spoken to.

One of the difficult things I find is that quite a few people tend to come in pairs or groups (ante-natal group friends etc) and that makes it more difficult when people turn up on their own - it was certainly something I found hard when I took DS1 to a baby group.

Not sure what to suggest really - we haven't tried socials for the parents. I know that a couple of years ago we organised a trip for mums and toddlers to one of the local farms you can visit and it wasn't that well attended (although those who went really enjoyed it).

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#14 bjdn

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 08:28 AM

I think this is such as difficult one. I think that there are some people who, however much you do, will not feel as 'welcomed' as they would like; but they may not be just a reflection on the group :icon_redface: Just having chatted to a a huge number of people over the last few years about this, hte reality is it does take time to become familiar and comfortable with a group and at least superficially get to know a few people and I think some people expect that to happen instantaneously.

All that said, there are things that can be done. Things we have done that seem to work include: having someone 'registering' all those who come (ticking names off on a list for fire reasons really) - this means all new people are welcomed as they come through the door and are shown round, have the structure of the group explained and are introduced to one or two others. We have organised trips, mainly to farms which have been very popular. We also organise regular 'girls nights out' - ie purely social evening events for mums with no children - we have met in a pub, gone to the cinema, we are just organising an evening at Paint-a-pot ( a place where everyone can paint a plate/mug).

Is anyone else going to Care for the Family's national Playtime conference in May in Derby? - its a day conference for thos running church parent and toddler groups.

DS 11 DD1 9 DD2 7


He has showed you O man what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? But to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6 v 8


#15 laura

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 09:21 AM

I dont think you'll ever have a perfect toddler group....but I think ours is very good

As my little boy is in pre-school for 2 hours in the morning, my main job is to 'meet and greet' the mums.

Ive managed to introduce and speak to every mum that has walked through the door to make them feel welcome....and break the ice

Out of all the toddlers groups ive been to in the last 7 years!! its one of my favourites....I dont know if its because we all started at the same time, but Ive found that its really friendly, and mums tend to speak to different mums each week

the mums who have told me they feel a bit excluded are the ones who havent moved from their seat to make any conversation with anyone else.....ive spoekn to them and I think a few others have....but the mums themselves havent actually moved around, or gone to make conversation with other mums around them? so its hard.....we are all different, so it might be really hard for one mum to strike up a conversation, whereas with another its second nature

Il think about this on tuesday, and try and talk to everyone again....although im exhausted by the end! and ive not got a toddler to run after!!!

I must have spoke to about 15 mums! But I did try and make them feel welcome my talking to them...so I hope it helped
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#16 laura

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 09:22 AM

I think this is such as difficult one. I think that there are some people who, however much you do, will not feel as 'welcomed' as they would like; but they may not be just a reflection on the group :icon_redface: .



I agree
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#17 Hilary

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 09:30 AM

And I chat to everyone who brings their child through to do the craft. Everyone gets spoken to, I am certain of that, but some still don't feel included. :icon_redface:

I have learned from moving around to new areas and going to new toddler groups where I don't know a soul that if you don't initiate conversation then it doesn't tend to be easy to get known and involved. People may chat to you but unless you instigate conversations you will probably find you don't settle into the group. And I comfort myself with the fact that I have been to several groups where no one has spoken to me at all...and no one has that experience at our group.

 


#18 laura

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 09:44 AM

http://www.christian...tyle_emoticons/default/confused-smiley-013.gif

its a tricky one....I suppose the mums who dont find it easy to make conversations..we'll just have to make a bit more effort with?

ive been to toddler groups where I didnt know anybody, even though I grew up in the area, most of my aged friends were still at uni not parent toddler groups!!

but I just started talking to the lady next to me...which then led me to talk to the lady next to that...then the next week id find them and chat with them again etc

I soon knew and was chatting with quite a lot of mums.....but I know my friend who is my age who went to one not far from here said that noone chatted to her...I felt really sorry for her....but when I asked did she chat to anyone...she said no aswell.................

it can be a difficult situation for people who arent comfortable with making new friends/starting up conversations to be in, and I dont have the answer! http://www.christian...tyle_emoticons/default/confused-smiley-013.gif
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#19 hypercube

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 09:51 AM

jill tweedie wrote a very mving acount of her self-imposed (but not realised at the time) isolation when she had pnd. she would go to the park with her kids, sit on a different bench from the other mums and fume at how cliquey they were cos they didn't come over and talk to her. years later, she could see exactly what she'd done, but at the time, she was convinced it was everyone else's fault
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#20 Netty-Lou

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Posted 04 March 2006 - 11:45 AM

Just wondering Hilary, how do your mums sit for coffee time, if they're in a line of chairs around the perimeter of the room it can lead to people feeling stuck on the end and possibly excluded, I'm a toddler group facilitator for pre-school services as well as running our church one. I have found if a group has a coffee table this can help with the inclusion problem. If you have adult sized tables you could push a few together and put chairs around it, this way everyone's opposite and beside each other ifykwim, and will quite often speak to people that they might not sat beside otherwise. it also helps with the age-old problem of hot coffee beside the children

HTH
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