Ardagh Toddlers is a playgroup with a difference! This playgroup runs on Monday mornings from 10.00 – 11.30. It is held at the Ardagh Club House on Horfield Common. I have been taking my two children there regularly since it started in September, last year. It is £2.50 entry regardless of how many children you bring.
There are six factors that I can think of that make it different to other playgroups in Bishopston and surrounding areas. These differences do not make it better or worse than other playgroups, it simply depends on what your preferences are on baby and toddler groups you like to take your child to.
1) It is non-religious
The majority of playgroups in this area are run by church volunteers and based in churches. Ardagh Toddlers, however, is based in a club house and has no religious themes, songs or stories whatsoever, which make it quite unusual.
2) It is open in half-term!
This for me, is a definite advantage. My oldest now goes to pre-school four days a week which, along with all playgroups and classes, stops in half-term. I find it hard not having structure and routine to our week and I prefer having regular, organised things to do. Having Ardagh Toddlers to go to, regardless of whether it is half-term, is great.
3) There is no age limit
Some toddler groups have an age limit, however, Ardagh Toddlers is one group which I can take both my three year old to as well as my one-year-old which is definitely an advantage for me. When it is open in half-term, they welcome older school-age siblings. There are also mums there with young babies and there is a quiet corner for them to sit in, if wished.
4) It is unstructured
Ardagh Toddlers is a very relaxed, unstructured group and there is no music and singing at the end of a session. For mums who prefer a structured playgroup with music and singing, they may not like this difference. I actually like some music at the end, however, my son hates music and singing so this playgroup suits him! Unstructured free-play that Ardagh Toddlers provides gives the group a relaxed feel.
5) There is no waiting list
Many playgroups in this area have waiting lists, some considerably long. It is nice to just turn up to Ardagh Toddlers as and when rather than waiting for a place to become available on the waiting list.
6) There is outdoor space
This is an advantage for older, mobile toddlers. While not an ideal space for robust toddlers racing around (they are not allowed on the bowling green, though this is not fenced off which can prove tempting for naughty little monkeys), it is still great for burning off toddler energy.
I have to say, volunteers at Ardagh Toddlers are very kind and thoughtful. On the session before Valentine’s Day, all mums were given a red rose (which my son helped to hand out which he enjoyed). On the session before Easter, instead of the usual biscuits, we had hot cross buns and Easter biscuits and all children were given an Easter egg!
I really appreciated the volunteers kindness when I went to Ardagh Toddlers for the first time since my daughter had her operation. When I arrived, they immediately cleared a space for her to lie on a soft giant cushion. They brought me coffee and a hot cross bun over to me to save me leaving my daughter. They then offered to take her for a while so I could sit down and drink my coffee and chat to some friends. This was appreciated; I hadn’t been properly out for several weeks, let alone visited a playgroup and it was good to have a little break for a while.
I recommend going along to Ardagh Toddlers if you have not been there before. And don’t worry if you don’t know anyone when you first go; it is a very friendly playgroup:-)
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