Then the mom who ran it returned to work, and after weeks of Ella begging to go (including a nightly question "She home from work now?"), I decided to start my own up.
Three entire people have asked me for more details about how the previous and soon-to-be groups have been run, so here are all the details:
- Number of Participants: I invited seven other women (all of whom only have a single child except for one who has a six-month old in addition to her toddler), and all of them have responded that they are interested. The previous group fluxuated a lot in terms of numbers - some weeks it was just her daughter and Ella, while other weeks there were eight or nine kids there. I think eight is about the most I'd want to have because my apartment is small and also because I think bigger than that starts to be more noisy and chaotic than I'm willing to deal with.
- Who, Exactly, Participates?: This is not a drop-off class (considering the oldest child is only two and a half, I have no interest in herding seven or eight children on my own). The parents stay the entire time (about forty-five minutes) and participate just like the kids, dancing, singing, and generally making fools of themselves.
- Time of Day: The one we used to attend was held in the morning, but I'm doing mine at 4 in the afternoon because that's the time of day I find to be the longest stretch and also because we have things already going on several mornings during the week. Of course, afternoon is feasible for this group because no one has older children getting out of school at that time. Morning may work better if you have children in school or want to invite people who do.
- Snacks: Oh, do not get me started. The old group had snacks at the end of each session (and people mainly brought something to share with the group), but we usually left before they were handed out because it was 11 a.m. and I wanted Ella to actually eat lunch an hour later. We won't be doing snacks because I don't want to buy or make them on a weekly basis, I feel strongly that activities should be fun for their own sake and not just for the food afterward, and it'll also be very close to dinner time when we end.
- Starting on Time: I understand that it can be difficult to get ANYWHERE on time with a child, but I've also noticed that if you get in the habit of starting late to accomadate people who show up late, then people start showing up even LATER. So I won't be bothered if people are late, but we will start right on time with whomever is there, even if that is only me.
- Cost: I'm not charging a fee to attend and neither did the woman who used to run it. She did, at one point, ask if people would be willing to pay a couple of dollars a week and my impression was that most people said they would not. Frankly, because of how many activities there are in our area for kids, I wouldn't be inclined to pay either.
- Getting Invited to Participate: Ralphie invited me to start coming to the music group and after a couple of weeks, I asked the mom running it if I could invite another friend and she said yes, and then THAT friend invited one of HER friends. So that group was pretty open. If we have consistent attendance from the people I invited, we'll keep it closed. If it starts to dwindle, I'll invite participants to invite another friend if I feel like we're getting too small.
(Part II about songs we use, schedule, etc here)