The playgroup year begins next week. Most of the kids have never been part of a group consisting of their peers. And most have not been without a parent, nanny or babysitter for hours at a time, on an ongoing basis. It is impossible to know before the group begins how any one of the children will react to this new situation. Therefore, I don’t have a formula. This may be disappointing to some parents.
When the group begins to meet, I recommend that most parents stay for about a half hour, or until all the children have arrived. Then leave (not all at once!) and assume that all will be well. I ask that one person in the family be available to pick their child up early if they are having a hard time. It’s a little difficult to describe what a “hard time” is. Well, of course, inconsolable crying is one, but if I know that a particular child has rarely been left with anyone other than the parents or caregiver, I might ask that their child be picked up a bit earlier for a few weeks.
Separation from your child can be painful at first. And I mean painful for the child as well as the adults in their lives. I truly believe this (or another) group experience, with warm and knowledgeable teachers, is a real gift to very young children. A gentle step away from the family for short periods of time, meeting over a period of months, is very empowering.