Parent and tot programs are recreation programs for toddlers and their parents. Most towns or cities have these programs available in their community or recreation centers, and they are sometimes called "mommy and me." These community sessions offer young children the opportunity to interact with children the same age that live in their area.
In a parent and tot program, toddlers can develop social skills among their peers while their mothers or fathers are still nearby. Many people feel that participation in such programs can better prepare children for the social aspects of school. Although most are held in a recreation or community center, activities like story times are often held in public libraries.
Some parent and tot programs have a wide range of activities that include crafts and physical education (PE). Most have both structured activities led by a program instructor and a time for free play. During free play, the children may use the playground equipment outdoors at the recreation or community center while the parents chat together and supervise their children.
These programs are often held during weekdays when older children are in school. They are usually carefully timed so that the parents can drop off and pick up other children from school. The length of each session varies, but since the children are usually quite young, most parent and tot programs don't last more than an hour or two.
Many parents enjoy being able to meet other parents in their community and it gives them some social interaction. Sometimes, participants form friendships outside the class, while in other cases, neighbors may bring their kids there together. Some programs include field trips to museums and sports events. The activities and number of participants vary widely among programs.