Playgroups and their impact on children and family members

About Playgroups

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:

  • Community playgroups are led by volunteer caregivers and held in public venues
  • Attendance is on a volunteer basis
  • Supported playgroups are facilitated by a professional and suited to the unique needs of groups such as playgroups for CALD and Pacific Islander family backgrounds, refugee children and families, children with disabilities, children at risk of vulnerability, First Nations children and families and Intergenerational or grandparents' playgroups. They are held at a range of locations, including schools, early childhood centres, out-of-mobile vans and residential care. We also have playgroups online.

The impact of Playgroups

Research highlights how playgroup participation of any type benefits children and adult family members. Such benefits may include:

  • Increased social and emotional developmental outcomes for children
  • Rich development opportunities through play
  • Smoother transition to school (Sincovich et al., 2020)
  • Adult caregivers who participate in playgroups experience increased social connections
  • Reduced social isolation/loneliness
  • Adults gain confidence and knowledge in parenting
  • Adults leading the playgroups gain leadership and organisational skills
  • Builds social trust between members in the community
  • Community linkages and connections to health and other services

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)

What's next

  • Continue to respond to the limited availability of early childhood programs/services through provision of quality playgroups
  • Expand the scope of our offerings to the community

“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!”

Become a Member

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.