Picture of baby raising her arms

Q: When do the groups meet, what is the frequency? How long do the groups run?

A: Each group meets for one hour per week on a set morning. The groups are continuous, meeting every week from September through June, except for one week at the end of December. Parents make a commitment for the whole year, although it is frequently possible to join a group during the year. Groups with infants often decide to continue to meet for two or three years.

Q: What is the size and composition of the groups?

A: There are up to six mother-child pairs in each group. The childrens' ages in any one group are within a six month range.

Q: What do you mean by “side-by-side groups”?

A: The groups take place in a large, sunny room (pictured right). On one end the mothers sit in a semi-circle with a group leader. Next to the mothers is an open area with toys where the child development specialist and externs (see below) play with the children and support their exploration. The children go back and forth freely between their mothers and the play area.

Q: What is the adult-child ratio and are the staff members the same each week?

A: There is a very high adult-child ratio. For example, in a group of six mother-child pairs, there is a group leader, a child development specialist and three or four externs. The leader of the parents’ discussion group continues with the group for its duration, as does the child development specialist who supervises the children’s play and the externs. (The externs are mostly graduate students in psychology or child development programs.)

Q: What is the parents’ discussion group like? Do you have set topics?

A: The groups provide an opportunity for mothers to share and explore experiences, questions, and concerns about parenting with other mothers and the group leader. Rather than having set topics, we invite mothers to share questions arising from the past week with their child. The leader takes an individual example and draws the whole group into the discussion by finding the common threads and generalizing developmental issues. The children’s play and interactions also stimulates discussion in the parents’ group.

Q: What is the children’s group like?

A: Each child is free to join the child development staff and the other children at his or her own pace. The child development specialist and externs follow the children’s lead, play with them, and facilitate social interactions. During the third year, the children’s group is loosely structured with a hello song, a snack time, and a variety of group activities. The staff offers the children plenty of support and help with common developmental tasks, such as negotiating turn taking, learning to use language to express feelings and wishes, and gaining awareness of the perspective of others.

Q: If my child is over two years old, can we join a group?

A: Yes. Many children turn three in the winter or spring of the school year.

Q: Your program is housed within the New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. Are the groups psychoanalytic in nature?

A: No, they are supportive and educational in nature. However, within a warm, play-filled atmosphere, parents and children benefit from the input of highly trained professionals.

Q: If I have a specific question about my child but do not want to join a group, can you help me?

A: Yes, this is the reason we created our Family Consultations, which are brief consultations for individual families.

Q: How do I find out more about the program and sign up?

A: Call Alice Rosenman, Program Coordinator, at: 212.665.6309, or email her at alice@theparentchildcenter.org. She will speak with you on the phone and will then set up an individual meeting with you and your child, to give you an opportunity to learn more about the program and answer your questions.