No. It costs approximately $12/month for me to maintain this meetup.com website. There is an option for members to help with this cost, but there is no expectation and absolutely no pressure.
Do members have to speak German fluently?
This question is somewhat complex:
- Though many of us improve our German language skills here, the Spielgruppe is not a classroom for learning German. The purpose of the group is to help encourage German-speaking children to speak German while living in the United States. Technically, parents are not required to speak German. That being said, the group has not yet had families join in which neither parent spoke German but their child(ren) did. If you fit this description, you probably send your kid(s) to Milwaukee's German Immersion School, and you are of course welcome to join us!
- Children: Participating children should already be accustomed to speaking German with someone some of the time (if they're old enough to be speaking at all). It is important that they be encouraged to speak German at the playgroups. For some of us it is a challenge to keep our children speaking German. That's why we joined this group. I recommend reminding your kids the evening before Spielgruppe that we go there to play auf deutsch. I also recommend checking in on your child(ren) at the Spielgruppe every so often to see if they might be in need of gentle reminders. I also remind my kids as a matter of fact that the Spielgruppe is for kids who speak German, and if they stop speaking German, we will have to stop going.
- Little children: Not speaking at all yet? Several members have joined the Spielgruppe before learning to speak at all and there are a few such non-speakers among us right now.
Should I bring something when we come to the Spielgruppe?
Members are not expected to bring anything to our get-togethers, but you are welcome to. If your child(ren) might need something to eat or drink, you may want to bring something just in case. Many of the regular guests have made it a tradition to fill up a table with Brötchen, Brot, Kuchen, Nutella, and other delicious snacks, some home-baked, some from the local grocer, but no one is expected to bring anything, and hosts are not required to supply breakfast, lunch or snack. (There is however an unwritten rule that hosts provide coffee.)
How often do I have to offer my home to the Spielgruppe?
It's always nice to have a selection of homes to choose from, but no one is expected to host. Some members choose not to because their homes are not big enough for the group. It is not uncommon for 30 and more kids and parents to show up and stay for 2 to 3 hours. On a cold day, when the outdoors is not an option, this requires some space. On the odd occasion when no one offers their home, there are other places to meet.
Can I suggest a place and time?
Any member can suggest a meetup on the meetup.com website, and it is encouraged! For a time, the originator of this group scheduled a Saturday meetup every week. But he has since become busy with other hobbies. It is the members' now who organize meetups.
This is a playgroup for German speaking children to provide an opportunity for them to speak German with other children and not just their German-speaking parent(s). We are not a school nor do we exist to teach your children German. Parents bare the responsibility of raising German-speaking children. Recognizing that not both parents of German-speaking children are German speakers themselves, the intention is to provide an environment where German is the primary language being spoken at meetups. It has also become an opportunity for native Germans or those with a strong connection to the language and culture to meet and celebrate German cultural events.
This is not a group for those wishing to simply introduce themselves or their children to the German language, but rather for established speakers wishing to speak or perfect their German.
In warm weather, we meet at playgrounds and other fun outdoor places. In cold weather members with houses large enough volunteer to host. And sometimes we take advantage of fun indoor Milwaukee places like the Domes, indoor playgrounds, or Betty Brinn's.