by Carren W. Joye
Finding a playgroup is like hunting for treasure. You're not sure a group may be out there; sometimes a rumor will reach you that there is a playgroup in town, but no-one is quite sure who leads it or how to contact them. Sometimes you get really close to finding a group, but once you reach the contact person, you find the group has ended!
Don't give up the quest! Here are some tips on finding a playgroup near you:
1. Follow up all leads. Word-of-mouth is still one of the best ways to find a playgroup. Introduce yourself to other parents at the mall, park, fast food restaurants or even your pediatrician's office. Also, get your spouse to ask about playgroups to co-workers in case some have spouses and children at home.
2. Check your local newspaper. Most local papers have a community calendar section in which they will allow non-profit groups to advertise for free. Sometimes playgroups will advertise that way.
3. Glance over any community bulletin boards at area businesses, particularly those where at-home parents may shop. Playgroups may post flyers advertising for new members in maternity shops, children's clothing stores, toy stores, grocery stores, parks/playgrounds, post offices and libraries.
4. Ask your pediatrician, family practitioner and ob/gyn. They often know of local playgroups through their patients.
5. Call local churches, libraries, hospitals and Chambers of Commerce. These places often provide free space for playgroups to meet, so you may find out about a local group through them.
6. Check online directories for individual playgroup listings, such as MommyAndMe.com. In addition, OnlinePlaygroup.com has an extensive list of online directories based on region and type of group (moms, dads, single parents, etc.).
Like any good treasure-hunter, keep searching and don't give up. Eventually, your quest will pay off, and you will discover treasure more valuable than gold bullion: Friends.
Carren W. Joye is the author of A Stay-at-Home Mom's Complete Guide to Playgroups (ISBN 0-595-14684-8). A homeschooling mom of four children, she has founded five successful playgroups and helped start countless other playgroups around the world. Visit her web site at http://www.OnlinePlaygroup.com for more information about playgroups.