Playgroups and their impact on children and family members
A playgroup is a group where caregivers (including parents, carers, grandparents, and other adults) and their children regularly come together at a community venue to play and socialize with other caregivers and children (ARTD, 2008; Playgroup Australia, 2018).
Many types of playgroups exist internationally and in Australia, including community playgroups, supported and therapeutic playgroups, transition playgroups, sensory playgroups, music playgroups and school playgroups. Some playgroups involve a cost and others are provided for free. Playgroup NSW core business is in the delivery of a range of playgroups all founded on the awareness of the capacities that children build through play. Some key distinctions include the following:
Research highlights how playgroup participation of any type benefits children and adult family members. Such benefits may include:
Playgroups give adults and children a sense of acceptance, belonging, they support children’s development, joy and give caregivers confidence in their parenting ability and skills (Anderson et al., 2021; McShane et al., 2016; Townley, 2022).
“Play and playgroups are important for child development for all children. At playgroups children are socialised to play with others and can engage in important unstructured play. Parents can feel isolated; they need community with others sharing a similar experience. Peer support at playgroup is particularly useful for advice and emotional support.” Townley, 2021, p. 746)
Therapeutic playgroups offer multidisciplinary support to families and children that is delivered in a space that is considered unthreatening and safe (Armstrong et al., 2020; Armstrong et al., 2021; Townley, 2022)
“Being connected to the local community is important. In local areas with great diversity, playgroups are spaces where people can meet families who are different from their own family, get to know each other, and build a more cohesive society. Local playgroups are also valuable for migrant families to support their children growing up as Australian” (Townley, 2021, P. 753)
“Playgroup NSW is doing a fantastic job creating these opportunities for our kids. My child has gained confidence in leaps and bounds, couldn’t be more thankful to our educators. Our favourite part of playgroup is storytime/singing and dancing!”
Playgroup NSW leads play-based programs and services for NSW families with children birth to school age, offering development, shared experiences, and family support, that results in active citizens and inclusive communities.