Good old Playgroup, always so much fun and a great opportunity to get out of the house and have some adult conversation to help break up the monotony of baby talk and dirty nappies.
Be prepared for lots of laughs and many lifelong friendships. Some of the best mates are met at Playgroup.
What is a playgroup?
Playgroup is a great way for parents and carers to regularly get together with their young children for a couple of hours each week to connect, learn through play and most importantly, have fun.
Generally hosted at various community venues in cities as well as regional and remote areas, playgroup activities may involve craft, indoor and outdoor play and morning tea. At playgroup, families can learn new ideas for playing at home, make new friends and share their experiences in a relaxed environment.
Who can attend playgroup?
Playgroup is for babies, toddlers and pre-school aged children age 0-5yrs. They can be accompanied by mothers, fathers, grandparents, nannies or other carers.
Types of playgroups
There are three main types of playgroups:
Community playgroups are managed by the parents and carers who use them. They are usually non-profit, which means they’re low cost and anybody can go. About 92 000 families a year go to about 8100 community playgroups across Australia.
Supported playgroups are helped by a facilitator. These playgroups can support families facing difficult situations. These include disadvantaged families, newly arrived or refugee families, teenage parent families, and families facing particular family or mental health issues.
Intensive support playgroups are for families who have complex needs and need more support. They’re usually facilitated by a social worker and a family support worker. These playgroups help parents learn about raising children, creating a safe environment where young children can learn, and getting support from community services.
There are often community playgroups that satisfy more specific needs of parents and children, including groups for:
- Allergy Awareness
- Families with Babies
- Family Day Care
- Rainbow Playgroup – LGBTI families (Lesbian Gay Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex)
- Montessori & Steiner families
- Aspergers and Autism
How does playgroup benefit children?
Creative and unstructured learning through play is essential to the development of young children, helping them explore and understand their world.
According to research by the Telethon Kids Institute, the benefits of playgroup are seen across all domains of child development: physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive development and communication.
Karen van Woudenberg, Playgroup NSW Deputy CEO highlights that, “Playgroups allow parents to introduce their children to a range of activities they may not do at home. It’s also a safe way for parents to allow their children to engage socially with other people and try new things. Parents can broaden their social network, meeting other parents with children in the same age group.”
Nasty Playgroup Bugs
The main risk of sending your child to a playgroup is that they can pick up other kids germs and get sick a lot more often due to constant interaction with other kids. Although after COVID I think we are all well rehearsed with containing germs!
The cost of playgroup can often deter people from attending. The good news is that with the variety of centres around, you can compare prices and likely find a good deal for a playgroup that suits you.
Choosing the Wrong Playgroup
Don’t forget to look around for the perfect Playgroup that suits you and your needs, keeping in mind where your child might also be attending school when they start and if any schools are connected to the Playgroup.
Playgroup associations in your state
There are thousands of local playgroups all over Australia. If there are several in your area you might like to visit more than one to find the one that most suits you and your family.
How Does it Work?
Find out where your local Playgroup is and call, email or message them, or simply turn up at Playgroup time!
Grab a piece of fruit, a water bottle and head along to meet some great new friends.
Each playgroup usually charges a small fee each week to cover venue hire costs, resources and morning tea. This is generally around $3 -$5 per session, but costs differ for each group.
Some states are offering FREE membership while others are 6 months for $25 or 12 months for $40. Check with your local Playgroup to see what fees they may be charging.