Seeking or Offering a Playgroup
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See also: Advice about Playgroups
Archived Q&A and Reviews
We will be relocating to Berkeley shortly and I am looking for German speaking playgroups, etc or parents with kids who would like to meet up for play and chat. My son is 2 years old and is raised bilingual. We would love to find some German speaking friends:) Madeleine
Hi Madeleine! Yes, there are many many German families in the Bay Area and a good way to find them is joining the Yahoo Group 'GerMOMs' - a German Mothers Group (there are different groups for San Francisco, Marin and the East Bay). Our East Bay Group used to be very active by meeting twice a week. But due to changing schedules in kid's (and parent's) lives and people moving back to Germany, most of us are left with communicating through the online forum. However, it's much easier to make friends and find children in your kid's age if you know where to look for other German parents.
There is also the GISSV Berkeley Campus (German International School Silicon Valley). You might not be thinking about elementary school yet because of your son being only two but every now and then the school organizes events (Karneval, yard sales, etc.) where you can socialize and meet other German families. Another fun (and very German!) event is the 'St. Martin's Laternenfest' at the Bay Area Kinderstube - a German Preschool in Albany. Kirstin
German kid resources in the area include Bay Area Kinderstube (BAKS), the German International School of the Silicon Valley (GISSV) in Kensington, and the German Saturday Schools of the East Bay (GSSEB). Bryce
Hi, I'm a new mom to a 3 month old girl. Does anyone know of a group for new moms/playgroup in or near Alameda that meets on Fridays? It'd be nice to meet some other new mamas that live in the area... Wendy
Walking (or toddling) distance seems to determine the best play groups/ mom's groups. Not sure what neighborhood you live in, but if you hang out at your local park or coffee house (Julie's, JavaRama, Au Lait, Westcafe, etc.) you're bound to run into some nice families.
There are several singalongs, story times, and other events at the Alameda Libraries. This is a great way to interact with other parents and their kids. http://www.ci.alameda.ca.us/library/events.html
Tot Tank has a few events for parents as well. Crosstown used to have a lot of wonderful stuff for kids, but I don't know about the new coffee house there (High Street Station). People in Alameda seem pretty open (I've been here 10 years and only met one person I thought was actually mean). You may also meet fun families at Crab Cove during their preschooler activities.
And if you want to start an organized group, consider posting on the bulletin board at Fashion After Passion. Alana in Alameda
I meet a few moms through Alameda Hip Parents & Kids Meetup group. It is easy to join and you get emails of activities.
I think the heath department here may also run a new mom's group. I might also ask the folks at Tot Tank because they used to host groups for free.
I have also seen a number of mom's groups form through Alameda Parents Network. If you post on there, with what age ranges you are looking for and what kind of things you want to do with the group, usually people get a bunch of responses.
I hope you find some cool moms. My groups of moms have really helped me out. Alameda mom
I need some recommendation or advice as to how to (or whether) to socialize my 17 month old daughter with children in her age group. My older child is almost 4 yrs old. She goes to preschool a few morings a week. When we go to drop her off, my younger one seems to enjoy seeing the other kids and playing with the new toys. All of our playdates are for my older child and the younger one just comes along and does her own thing. My question is whether I should somehow try to introduce her to those her age? If so, how? She has no school friends because I am a SAHM. I tried joining a moms group when she was first born but my older one was bored stiff and whiny at the meetings. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks. N
Check out the Epworth playgroups. The group meets at Epworth Methodist United Methodist Church on Hopkins St. for two hours (no religious content). There is free play, with toys, climbing structures, play dough, markers, paint, etc. Parents rotate bringing snack for the kids and thre is a circle time at the end where each kid picks (with some help from mom, dad or care giver) a song for the group to sing. The group size is around 12 kids.
Call the coordinator Liz Dunkle at (510) 528-0467. There is a fee for the playgroup, but it's not too much. There is usually a waiting list.
I have been taking my now 18 month old there since he was about 10 months old and we both like it a lot. Both he and I have made friends there and it's a great social experience for him. The only thing I would mention as a warning is that the Thrusday group is currently full of 2 year old boys who have been together as a group for a while and our day (Tuesday) keeps getting refugees from the Thursday class who are not 2 year old boys.
Also, my little guy enjoys the gymnastics plus classes at University Village. --Karen
At 17 months, your child is not developmentally ready for cooperative play but rather parallel play. If you try to put her together with other kids her age, they will most likely not play together yet and they may have difficulty sharing their toys if a playdate is arranged at one of their homes. I found that the best way to begin to socialize a toddler this age is to take them to parent participation classes like Gymboree or Music Time/Kindermusik where they can get used to being around others the same age and they can learn to share equipment, take turns, and play and laugh together. I did this for a year or so with both of my kids and I think it helped get them ready for preschool at age 3.
As you have probably noticed babies and toddlers love to be around other little people. So if you don't have a bunch of cousins for your little one to interract with provide her with a socialization experience through park play, Mommy and me classes at the community center, music class, Gymboree, Kindergym or a playgroup. If traveling to Walnut Creek isn't too far for you I would be glad to welcome you at the John Muir Hospital Women's Health Center (1656 N. California Blvd. across from Perfominrg arts Center)Toddler Support group every Thursday from 9:15-10:15. Drop in basis, different discussion topics every week, circle time, songs, playtime. For more info feel free to email me. Ksenija
I had the same problem with my second child. She had no friends until 2 1/2 yrs old. I joined a parent participation program for 2 yr olds - loosely based on a pre school structure ( you didn't say where you lived but there are many of these programs around in most communities. In Berkeley, there is the playgroup at Epworth Church) while my first attends her pre school. You could also try joining a moms group that meets on a morning your older child is at preschool.
Now that the older child is in pre-school it would be good to try again to find your toddler friends of her own. Do you know anyone with kids both ages? That's unbeatable. Otherwise, either a formal group, a moms & tots group, a music class or lots of time at Totland playground seems fair. Even younger children should get to be the center of attention sometimes! Heather
I am a SAHM who joined a playgroup when my second child was around 9 months old. Our playgroup is still active 2 years later, and my daughter has formed meaningful friendships with several children from the group. I have as well. My daughter is independent and outgoing, and she truly enjoys other children. However, some of the children in our playgroup never bonded with the other children. They tended to be shy and unable to leave their mothers' sides. Now that those children are in preschool, though, they are making friends. So I would advise that you try joining a playgroup and see if your toddler enjoys playing with others in that setting. I found my playgroup through the Neighborhood Parents Network. Another option to consider is enrolling your toddler in a part-time playschool program, such as the one my daughter has been in since 19 months for 2 mornings a week. Several wonderful people do home-based programs in the Berkeley area. You can get the information from the Neighborhood Parents Network Preschool Directory. I wholeheartedly recommend Bari Nelson's program.