Attending a playgroup can bring just as many benefits for the parent/caregiver as for the young child. Playgroups are an excellent way for children to learn to socialise in a group setting before they are old enough to attend a kindergarten/pre-school/early learning centre. Taking a child to playgroup can be a chance for the parent to meet other parents and make new friends too.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Types of playgroup
Some playgroups are for a particular age group such as babies, toddlers or children three years and over. Others cater for all ages from newborn. There are playgroups catering for fathers, grandparents, children with disabilities and families with a culturally and linguistically diverse background. There are groups with a specific educational philosophy such as Montessori, Waldorf or Steiner and Nature based playgroups where the emphasis is on spending as much time in Nature as possible. There are also rainbow playgroups which give lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender parents and caregivers a place to meet like minded people and make friends.
Then there are playgroups open to anybody looking after children who are not yet attending school.
What are the benefits for young children?
meet other young children and have the opportunity to socialise
develop language skills through group singing and rhymes as well as talking to their peers
get to play with a wide range of toys and educational equipment
do a variety of activities which they may not be able to do at home
get stimulation from a different environment
develop physical skills from using a range of equipment. Some playgroups are held at a school or kindergarten and the playgroupers get to use the playground equipment.
may later attend kindergarten or school at the venue where the playgroup is held, making it easier to adapt to the more formal education setting.
Children at playgroup Image courtesy of Pixabay
What are the benefits for parents and caregivers?
meet other parents/caregivers and make new friends
particularly helpful for new stay at home parents whose 'pre-baby' friends are all in the workforce
hear about other groups and activities suitable for those caring for young children
get stimulation from adult conversation
share ideas, experiences and advice
opportunity for their children to do painting and other creative activities which may be too messy for home
chance for their children to participate in activities which may be outside the interest and 'expertise' of the parent
When I moved 400 kilometres from family and friends I knew no one in my new home town. I enrolled my three year old in two playgroups, as much for my own benefit as his.
I made new friends and heard about a social basketball team that was desperate for new members. One of the other mothers and I went to aquaerobic classes at the local swimming pool, something I would not have done on my own.
My son made friends and got to play with other children on the days when there was no playgroup. As he didn't have a sibling at home to play with he really benefitted from the company. We also found out about the local toy library through playgroup.
Image by Marie Vonow
When my son was old enough for kindy he already had friends and I knew some of the parents. I joined the kindy committee and continued to make friends. Playgroup has plenty of benefits for adults and children.
Here are some websites to find local playgroups and playcentres close to you or information on how to start one: