Things I managed to find out about what happened after I left last week:
The group were given handouts – an information sheet on the benefits of play, a sheet of 'refrigerator notes' giving tips on how to play with your child (follow your child's lead, pace at your child's level, praise and encourage your child's ideas, etc.), a questionnaire about our current parenting situation, and the homework for the week (which was meant to be not just playing with our children every day, but also recording this on the Record Sheet and reading the handouts and Chapter One from the Incredible Years book). They weren't, alas, given the Incredible Years book, which rather scuppered that last.
They watched three of the promised six vignettes, which turned out to be DVDs of different parenting scenarios.
They spent half an hour trying to figure out how to open the DVD section on the centre's TV, before realising someone had taped it shut.
That's about it. The group leader had to go to a meeting, so we had a different group leader for this session, so she couldn't fill me in on all that much. Oh, and we have a fifth group member (make that a sixth group member – I thought the other staff member who was there was there as a deputy leader, but in fact I think she's actually there under her parent hat, so to speak).
This week was the second on three planned sessions about play. We discussed ways in which play helps our children to learn, and watched the DVD vignettes that the group didn't watch last week (on not rushing children during play and not being too directive) and then some more for this week, on giving children attention. Then we did a role-play in which the mother (me) was meant to be focusing on giving attention only to the well-behaved child (another group member) while ignoring the child who was misbehaving (a third group member). The idea, apparently, was to get us thinking about how it felt to be the child who was being ignored. I don't know that this was hugely useful (except to the mother playing the role of the misbehaving child, who said she found it delightfully therapeutic to get to be the naughty one for once), but it did feel quite restful to be dealing with a 'child' whose idea of misbehaving was to bang some toys together rather than to launch full tilt with flying fists into the other child, screaming "NOOOOOO! YOU ARE BEING VERY SILLY! NOW YOU ARE NEVER ALLOWED TO PLAY WITH THE BLOCKS AGAIN!"
The homework was almost the same as for the first week, except that this time the daily play periods were meant to be specifically on some type of learning activity (painting, Playdoh, dressing up, building with blocks, etc.), and we were given the option of listening to Chapter One of Incredible Years on audiotape instead of reading it (just as much a non-starter, since we don't have audiotapes either – however Helen is, apparently, trying to get hold of some copies of the books, so we might have them by next session). Stay tuned.