When K was born and we lived in the UK, I was always saying that I'd take him to a toddler group or coffee morning for Mums and Babies. I never seemed to actually get around to it though. I think it was partially because I was busy enough anyway, I worked from when he was six months old, all be it part time, and I had plenty of family and friends around.
When we moved to New Zealand though, I was in need of something. Somewhere to get a bit of adult company, somewhere to make friends. K was that bit older too, at 2 and a bit he benefited from getting out and about and being able to do more things than I could offer at home.
I soon discovered Playcentre, which has been great for us. I've been able to meet people over here, make friends and the kids love all of the things that you can do there.
Playcentre is a little different to the similar options back home. Although it follows the NZ curriculum, it's almost entirely parent led. I've done courses through playcentre which help with both helping out there and with my own kids at home. Another great advantage of playcentre, is that the kids can get stuck into all of the fun messy play, without tracking mud, playdough, and other equally messy things through my carpet. Yay!
I love the way that it's all about the child and what their interests are. There's little structured play or activities, children can choose what they want to do and when they want to do it. All of the learning 'records' are collected in a profile book. Basically stories are written about what the children have been doing and learning, and then they are added to a book complete with photos. The great thing about that is that I now have all of these scrapbooks and folders to look back on, showing what they did when they were little. It's great.
A, who is my only playcentre child now, the others being at school, loves going each week. The older ones did too. Playcentre is great.