Finding a proper playgroup for one’s child in as big a city as Bangkok can be a bigger project than expected. Swedish father Robert Akerblom, Danish father Steen Trolle and Danish mother Mai Ellegaard have met their obstacles and are still improving their children’s sparetime.
Steen Trolle is the father to a 3,5 year old daughter, and for him playgroups are important to improve children’s well-being. When you live in a big city with a huge traffic issue, you have to adjust your life to make the best out of your children’s spare time.
“Playgroups are vital. Here in Bangkok we need spaces where children can play safe, but the reality is that these spaces are very rare here. Even if ”arranged meetings” can sound a little repulsive, we need them for safety. Children can’t walk alone here and ”just run over to play with a friend” like they can in Denmark,” Steen Trolle says.
Danish mother Mai Ellegaard agrees.
“The selection of playmates is not that big. Your child plays with the children it goes to school with. I think it’s healthy they also build friendships with children other than their classmates, and that’s where parents have to help find outside playgroups,” says Mai Ellegaard, mother to two sons.
Swedish father to twin boys, Robert Akerblom, has so far got great help from acknowledged schools finding playgroups for his sons, which he thinks is a suitable introduction to life in school and to make playgroups of like-minded children.
“Our boys of 1.5 years have attended a few playgroups, be it lead by school or outside, and will probably attend a few more prior to their Kindergarten start in May 2016. We feel that the ones operated by the International schools, compared with the smaller standalones or by organizations like Bambi.org, in general have better facilities and smaller groups.” he says.
Which kind of playgroup?
All the parents agree it’s an essential factor that their children maintain their Scandinavian culture. One way to keep it up is by having playgroups consisting of children with the same language. Swedish father Robert Akerblom and Danish father Steen Trolle have both tried to find other Scandinavian parents, who want to start up a playgroup, where their children can speak their non-English mother tongue.
“Outside schools we are searching for are a Swedish or Scandinavian play group to attend, say once or twice a week. If there are no such playgroups we will try to get in touch with parents in similar situations like us and try to organize informal play dates.” says Robert Akerblom.
Mai Ellegaard wants her boys to maintain their Danish culture and language too. She thinks it is good for the children to have different types of playgroups, so they can keep up with both their English and Danish languages.
Danish Father Steen Trolle argues that it’s not all about finding a group of children who speak a language similar to one’s child.
“The most important thing is of course that the child is happy among its playmates. If my daugther doesn’t feel good in the only Danish-speaking playgroup, then she should not be forced to play with him or her. The whole idea with having a playgroup is letting your child have some qualitytime with friends outside school,” Steen Trolle says.