This morning saw a dawning realisation that Tilly and I are nearing the end of an era. The days of playgroups are waning with pre-school looming large. Where did the time go?

It’s exactly a year since we started the routine of daily playgroups and toddler activities, way back when Tilly wasn’t even quite walking. It was a brand new experience for both of us and one which took a while to get used to (read my guide to playgroups for an insight into this once strange world). Since then Tilly has advanced massively into a confident, frequently singing and sometimes dancing toddler.

The start of the new term at playgroups really made it dawn on me though that Tilly is nearing the end of this stage of her development. Most of her friends have now moved on to pre-school as although many are not yet three, parents have taken the opportunity of the new academic year to advance their child and free up some time of their own to boot.

As the doors opened at playgroup today I was acutely aware how Tilly had shifted up the ranks of children to become one of the senior toddlers, a prefect if you will. Although somewhat dinky for her age, massed ranks of newly arrived walking babies made her look positively grown up in comparison.

Today was also the first time I felt that perhaps Tilly is starting to outgrow playgroup. She’s quite advanced with her use of language and I couldn’t but help feel that the same old toys, while distracting, weren’t necessarily offering the sort of challenge that she perhaps now needs.

This said, I’m in no rush for her to swap play for structured learning as there are years for all of that. Tilly still has plenty to learn when it comes to drawing, painting, and sticking, while having smaller companions around helps to reinforce the need to be considerate and share.

So while we’ll not be ditching playgroup just yet it has got me thinking all the more about reassessing the activities I organise for her. There’s certainly a point where you begin to feel they’ve done and got the best out of an activity and its time to move on to something different. There’s safety is sticking with the familiar but with such a range of activities out there, I’d like to keep exploring new options for Tilly in the hope that she discovers some that really engage her or find a natural talent.

After all, pre-school will be with us next year and then, like it or not, half of the week will be taken up with all that holds on the road towards full-time education. Of course there’s time for extra-curricular activities when they are at school but recognising that this unlimited time together we currently enjoy is a finite resource makes me want to make the very most of it.

What clubs, classes and activities have you found popular for your nearly 3-year old? Did you sign your child up for pre-school ahead of them getting their free hours? Please share your views and experiences in comments.

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8 thoughts on “Becoming the playgroup prefect

  • 18 September 2015 at 11:08 am
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    I like that, “senior toddler” – at 2 years old!!

    Have you thought of swimming lessons? We’ve been going once a week since a very young age and yesterday was the first time she swam the width of the pool without any floats in her swimsuit. A very proud moment for dad. I remember learning to swim when I was about 10 so I’m amazed at how quickly they pick it up at this age.

    My little girl stopped having an afternoon nap about 3 months ago and the 2 mornings a week she now attends pre-school provide me with a very welcome respite to catch up on jobs and phone calls. Nonetheless, when I see her in the classroom with all the 4 year olds who tower over her, it does make me sad to think she’s becoming more independent already and doesn’t need me as much.

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  • 25 September 2015 at 7:48 am
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    Great post. I totally relate. It’s amazing seeing the difference in them when they become the older children. I’m looking forward to this next year, whilst preparing for my son to start school. #binkylinky

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  • 25 September 2015 at 6:24 pm
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    I have only just come across you blog and what a name, its fab. My little one is only 15 months old so I guess I will soon feel the way you do. Don’t they grow up so quickly? But just as Mark said swimming would be a great idea or perhaps an interest you have that you could share with your daughter? #binkylinky

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  • 25 September 2015 at 8:37 pm
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    My girls are three and a half and have not long started pre-school (two and a half hours a week). Before then I would take them to weekly playgroups. They enjoyed it, playing with the toys and making new friends. I made some new friends too. Sometimes I think parents are too quick though to put their children into different classes. A mother I was talking to today actually was telling me about all of the classes that her daughter was in. Swimming, ballet and dance. Three classes, three times a week, in addition to being in pre-school and private nursery – all of that time spent away from her parents and I couldn’t help, but feel sorry for her daughter. I never went to any classes when I was growing up and when I was around twenty I always wished that I had, but in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t because I got to spend that time with my family. If my children want to go to a class then they can, but I think I’d limit it to one a week! Thanks for linking up to the #BinkyLinky

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  • 26 September 2015 at 7:36 am
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    It’s great to see them grow up, even if it’s hard in equal measure as they transition into a new stage. Our son’s 3 and a half and really enjoys groups with a mixed age range #bigfatlinky

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  • 27 September 2015 at 9:53 am
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    We felt the same with Big Red and started attending a local music and move group and swimming classes instead. I’m considering taking her to some ballet classes too as she’s obsessed with everything ballerina at the moment. She starting just sort of wandering around at playgroup and looking at the littler children in utter confusion when they would snatch a toy and then cry in her face. They’re so handy to start building their confidence and then, you’re right, there’s a moment when you realise they’ve sort of outgrown them

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  • 28 September 2015 at 8:29 pm
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    Very interesting read – we did playgroup with my eldest, but then things fell by the wayside with my youngest. Playing with her older sister’s friends has meant that she holds her own amongst her peers at nursery – not sure if this is a good thing or not! She definitely has lots of confidence anyway!
    Thanks for linking up with #SundayStars

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  • 2 October 2015 at 1:35 pm
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    Love the term “senior toddler” bet she made a great prefect. It’s sad when the time comes and it changes but definitely exciting when it happens. So much to do and enjoy. I’m sure there’s lots of alternative groups available. #bigfatlinky

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