I’ve always made good use of groups at children’s centres in Southwest London, and more recently in Surrey. These are fantastic resources as they allow your little one to socialise with others, are a great way to have some one-on-one with your child (without housework and other things getting in the way), give children access to different types of toys based on how old they are and offer a brilliant way to get to know other parents. All this and they cost so little to attend.
During yet another spell of rainy weather I looked at taking the brood to a soft play venue, which also has animals outside. It would have cost £23 for my oldest daughter and I (under twos are free) to go. As it was busy, indoor time (incidentally, inside is the only place to get food) was restricted to 1 1/2 hours. Traipsing around outside was an impossibility due to the torrential rain.
In comparison, I pay £1 per child to go to my local Children’s Centre in Banstead. I’ve met some really nice mums there, and as well as the general benefits I mentioned, the children also get to do activities that they wouldn’t normally do at home. Last week’s session, for example, was farmyard-themed. A whole toy farm with animals was set up, the books were all connected with farm animals and they got the opportunity to explore the texture and smell of hay.
There was a singing session (with plenty of animal songs) and then healthy snacks were provided. An outreach worker is also on hand for support and advice if you need it. It is certainly worth the £1!
This particular group, despite being really good, has never been very well attended (I really don’t know why). However, on this particular week, I was the only parent there. The girls still loved it, but it was a massive shame.
These Children’s Centres are a valuable resource and if they are not supported and fail to get adequate numbers the will close. netmums provides a great list of groups in your local area.
Use them or lose them!
*** Update: I’m very happy to report that the group is really well attended now 🙂