This is a very generic guide to setting up a popular language playgroup, to give you an idea of what’s involved. If you’re based in the UK, and wish to proceed in setting up a playgroup, I recommend that you contact the Pre-School Learning Alliance for guidance and legal requirements. If you’re based outside the UK, contact the body that regulates early years education for advice and legal requirements in that country.
First, check there’s enough interest – see more in this post about language playgroups
1. Find a suitable venue. Does it have all you need, or do you need to bring toys and other materials? Does it have accessible toilets? Nappy changing facilities?
2. Find volunteers to run the group – preferably an educator to lead the sessions and a couple of helpers
3. Decide the best date to run it, for example, weekdays, between 10 am and 2pm while older siblings are in school? Weekends so parents who work full-time office hours can join?
4. Look at costs: venue hire, materials (e.g. toys, books, craft materials, etc), insurance, snacks if you offer any. You may also be able to get some of these free of charge, as a donation from, say a publisher or local business
5. Decide on a price to charge that will at least covers expenses (unless you can get funding for your group). Work out how many people you need to have at each session to break even (i.e. to cover costs so you don’t have a financial loss). For example, if after you add up all your costs per session, you have to cover £50 per session, you might need 5 people paying £10 or 10 people paying £5. This is just a basic example, but you also need to think about whether people in your area prepared to pay the price you set. You might consider incentives such as a discount if parents sign up for a whole term.
6. Set up legally. Even if as a non profit, you should set up legally to protect all those involved.
7. Set up a website and a Facebook page so you can be found in searches, and a closed or secret Facebook group to communicate with parents
8. Promote, promote, promote! Promote on your council’s newsletter, local press, local listings, fliers in places where parents and carers hang out such as local cafes, shops, libraries and other attractions. Promote on local parents facebook groups and other local forums, and ask the Embassy and othe services or businesses interested in promoting the target language.
9. Plan your sessions in the target language so that they are fun and educational.
Finally… don’t forget to welcoming. If people like the group, feel welcome and that they get value from it, they will return and spread the word. At the end of the day, the more children attend the playgroup, the merrier it will be and each child will feel part of a bigger community. They will then start looking forward to it and more likely to feel proud of their heritage, or of learning a new language.
Sounds like something you want to get involved with?
- As mentioned at the top, contact the Pre-School Learning Alliance for guidance and legal requirements. They have detailed free handouts for community members wishing to start a playgroup. If you’re based outside the UK, contact the relevant body that regulates education.
- Our friends at Alma Collective also put together a handy Playgroup Starter Kit with templates for you