preschool playgroup

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a friend and I have been working on the idea for a while to start a preschool playgroup for our kids since they are not going to preschool. we have 4 mothers and 5 boys interested and are to meet once a week for a structured activity and another more optional day for playgroup. we are going to take turns at each house with the owner taking the kids for the structured activity. the rest can leave if they want. at the first meeting i explained about ben's food allergies and got a kind of strange responce from one of the mothers. i dont know her and i dont think my friend does really well either. the kids will be there from 9:30 to 12 and i dont really think they need a snack (atleast my kids dont typically have one in the morning) but i let them know I needed to find out if it was going to be a problem for anyone not to have pb or peanuts around. she was like "that's all my kids eat". which i always think is a strange thing to say, i mean breakfast, lunch and dinner that is all they eat. anyway we talked some more and they have it for lunch everyday. after we talked awhile she started to act like she understood as she reads labels for food additives cause i guess her son reacts strongly to red die. (behavior). anyway, i really want to do the playgroup but I am feeling much less sure about it. i am not going to leave him in any of the houses until we know and trust these people but i also dont even now if i should go that far. all the families eat pb but like my friends house is spotless and i have never felt uncomfortable over there. would you all even persist in this or would you just back out? she seems like a nice enough person but a little taken back whenever people said anything. and my second question is if they do have snacks how would you handle it... have everybody bring there own.. aprove it b4 i leave or just have fruit?

------------------ Lalow James 4 yrs, NKA Ben 3 yrs, PA and MA and SA

On Aug 29, 2006

Here's my first thought as we're going out the door...I'll think more later.

I would pursue the playgroup activities, but I don't think I'd leave my ds there, I think I'd stay and offer to help so I could be around for snack time and observe my ds. You were probably really hoping for down time I bet...but if you're having reservations, I wouldn't leave my ds there alone, at least initially.

If it's any consolation, since our preschool is 20 mins away from home (without traffic, and there's frequently traffic), I stay within a 5 min. radius of school just in case...many times I'm paying bills or reading in my car -- I know I'm a crazy lady.

While many schools don't get it fully, they are legally responsible for the well-being of our children while in their care, an at home playgroup...not the same deal right?

I would expect the snacks to be peanut free though in order to participate, and a strict no sharing food policy.

Good luck!! Meg

On Aug 29, 2006

I feel it's scary enough leaving a child at a preschool with trained day care staff all the health documents, Epipen training, etc. but at least they have strict guidelines of how to care for kids.

If you leave your child with one Mom to care for 5 preschool boys, that Mom might have her hands too full to notice that your child is breaking out in hives.

Also, when you say "structured" activity, do you mean like that parent would take the kids bowling or something like that? I mean, five boys are going to be running around and it may be quite difficult to keep track of all of them.

You would also have to make sure that all of the parents were comfortable with dealing with the PA. Are they comfortable with the use of the Epipen? Are they squeemish with needles? I could see this all as being quite overwhelming for some.

My PA DS is 8 years old and still feel uneasy about leaving him at other people's houses sometimes.

My suggestion, form a playgroup with parents present. I did this last year with my 4yo DS. There were four to five kids (but all of the parents were there) and it was fun because the kids played and the Mom's chatted. We would usually either meet for lunch in a local restaurant and possibly go to a playground afterward or we would rotate houses. We pretty much always ordered pizza and a greek salad. The hosting Mom would usually have some snacks (like chips, pretzels) and some fruit.

Good luck!

On Aug 29, 2006

I agree with MimiM - its a lot easier when its a group with the parents present. I belonged to a group for several years with my PA son. I can't say that I ever had issues with the snacks - everybody brought stuff to share, and I would let my DS eat what was safe for him (ie what came in packages with ingredient lists), but I was never worried about him eating may contains accidentally since I was there monitoring him. I always made sure what I brought was something he really enjoyed eating. When I joined the group, he hadn't been diagnosed yet, and after we found out the other moms stopped bringing in blatant PB products.

Some other suggestions that might make things easier (they did for me at least)...

Running the group (which I did for a while). That way if or when new people join you can tell them the snack "policy" (of no peanuts, PB, may contains or fruit only or whatever you think you need to make your kids safe). And the best part is, since you're in charge, no-one questions you (or if they have problems with it, they just never come back).

Meeting on neutral ground. With the group I belonged to, we always met at the local community hall or a park. So there is not as many worries about being in a house that's filled with PB crumbs, and I would guess no worries about somebody having the attitude, its MY house and I'll serve pbj if that's what my kids want.

On Aug 29, 2006

Since they won't be eating lunch together, I don't think it's an issue that those kids eat PB for lunch every day. If they eat PB for breakfast, I would be a little leery if they still have their hands in their mouth or if they put toys in their mouth. She doesn't sound like the kind of mom who would be willing to brush their teeth well before they came.

I would make it a group rule that everyone wipes their hands when they first arrive. Not only will this help with peanut residues, but it also will help with minimizing germs in general---obviously a benefit to the whole group.

You didn't mention discussing the epi-pen with the group. If you were to leave ever, they would have to be comfortable with recognizing a reaction and be willing to use the epi-pen.

As for snacks, personally I'm leery of fruit that other people provide. I always ask if they make PB&J sandwiches on the same cutting board that they use to cut fruit. Several people have told me that they use the same cutting board for both.

I would think you need to stick to store-bought foods where you can check labels and approve it. Maybe you could develop a list, and people need to provide a snack from that list. At that young of an age, personally I would want the food to be verified peanut-free. I'd be too concerned about residues. That's my comfort zone. Also, it would endear you to the other woman if you also suggest making it a rule for the group that no foods with red dye will be served. You can say something along the lines of "Let's create a group where all of the children can participate in every aspect." I would mention not serving the red dyes first and then mention not serving products that have peanuts in the ingredients or that are made in the same facility or say may contains peanuts.

What are you doing about tree nuts? If you're avoiding them, you also need to incorporate that.

Those are my initial thoughts. The kids have lost patience with my being on the computer, so I can't proofread this. I hope it makes sense.

Quote:

Originally posted by lalow: [b]a friend and I have been working on the idea for a while to start a preschool playgroup for our kids since they are not going to preschool. we have 4 mothers and 5 boys interested and are to meet once a week for a structured activity and another more optional day for playgroup. we are going to take turns at each house with the owner taking the kids for the structured activity. the rest can leave if they want. at the first meeting i explained about ben's food allergies and got a kind of strange responce from one of the mothers. i dont know her and i dont think my friend does really well either. the kids will be there from 9:30 to 12 and i dont really think they need a snack (atleast my kids dont typically have one in the morning) but i let them know I needed to find out if it was going to be a problem for anyone not to have pb or peanuts around. she was like "that's all my kids eat". which i always think is a strange thing to say, i mean breakfast, lunch and dinner that is all they eat. anyway we talked some more and they have it for lunch everyday. after we talked awhile she started to act like she understood as she reads labels for food additives cause i guess her son reacts strongly to red die. (behavior). anyway, i really want to do the playgroup but I am feeling much less sure about it. i am not going to leave him in any of the houses until we know and trust these people but i also dont even now if i should go that far. all the families eat pb but like my friends house is spotless and i have never felt uncomfortable over there. would you all even persist in this or would you just back out? she seems like a nice enough person but a little taken back whenever people said anything. and my second question is if they do have snacks how would you handle it... have everybody bring there own.. aprove it b4 i leave or just have fruit?

[/b]

On Aug 29, 2006

thank you for the suggestions. i am not leaving him at anybodies house for a while anyway but i think i am going to request (if a snack is served) that it come off a list that we make up and everyone agrees to and that they save the box so i can check the label. i am also going to create some sort of hand out on how to recognize and reaction and i have some expired epipens and have them practice with them. atleast that way if then i stay around instead of leaving him they will understand and probably be thankful. i like the idea of washing hands before the group starts. i have two preschool age boys and sending them both to preschool was just not feasible.. we will see how it works out. anyother ideas would be appreciated.. thanks

------------------ Lalow James 4 yrs, NKA Ben 3 yrs, PA and MA and SA

On Sep 7, 2006

the mother of the kids that only eat peanut butter is now thinking of backing out of the group after what i said. she told another mother that she thought her house would need to be professionally cleaned cause there is peanut butter on the toys and pillows. I dont really know what to do. We start on monday at another friends house so if she comes i will talk to her about it. she could take her turn leading the group at my house if she wants to. i hate for her to drop out cause of us but i also doubt i could take him over there if she feels it is that bad.. i mean it is her house.

------------------ Lalow James 4 yrs, NKA Ben 3 yrs, PA and MA and SA

On Sep 8, 2006

Hmmmmm. I've never heard another woman say that their house is smeared with food before [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/eek.gif[/img]

I think she's either a)trying to force you to back out by making it seem like a hassle to everyone b) she's trying to understand the allergy and is genuinely afraid of residue that is not visible c) she's the messiest housekeeper ever.

The fact that she told another mom and not you unfortunately makes me think it's Option A.

What if you sent around an email to all of them with specific suggestions on cleaning, like explaining that clorox wipes can clean toys. Perhaps throw away tablecloths can go over tables?

You can say that she expressed concern over residue, and you thought it might be helpful for all of them to know in case they're worried too. I would treat this mom as though she is genuinely concerned (cuz you don't know yet), and offer to come over and help her clean once.

That sort of puts her in a corner in a nice way and shows the others you want to make it as easy as possible for them.

Just some thoughts....gotta tell you, that's a new one I've never heard before! Good luck!! Meg

On Sep 8, 2006

Quote:

I've never heard another woman say that their house is smeared with food before

Ohhhh... I have.

Usually by people who truly eat a lot of nuts and "get it." It isn't an unfounded concern, in my experience.

I have to agree though-- the fact that she didn't tell [i]you[/i] about the concern makes me wonder if that is truly what it is.

Maybe you could talk to her personally, as OP suggested, and find out what the nature of her concern is. How many people are in the playgroup? Might it be okay for her to have it at her own house on a "very seldom" basis? (Say once for everyone else's twice) and tell her you are willing to host the additional time to make it work?

That way both of you have compromised a bit and maybe can remain in the playgroup. If it really proves to be a problem taking your son to her house then you may just have to miss that rotation when it comes around. If there are enough people in the group, this might only be once every three months or so-- and kids are going to miss out from illness and what-have-you anyway occasionally, so it probably wouldn't be really glaringly obvious to anyone but you.

(shrug) This is just what I would try. Don't know if it will be okay with you, (or her).

On Sep 8, 2006

right now there are just 4 families in the group so we would be at her house once a month... we are hoping to add a couple more. her house is ALONG way from mine and truthfully i would not mind not going there. I dont think she is trying to make me feel uncomfortable and not come because the playgroup was started by me and a friend and she was asked if she would like to join. i think she is probably genuinely concerned or is trying to find an excuse not to do it cause she is finding she doesnt have time or something.

------------------ Lalow James 4 yrs, NKA Ben 3 yrs, PA and MA and SA

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