What it is
Playgroup is for babies, toddlers and preschoolers and their parents or carers. Around 40,000 children from 25,000 families go to playgroup in all corners of Victoria at community venues such as maternal and child health centres, kindergartens, halls, community centres, primary schools and aged care facilities.
Playgroups are informal, low cost and run by the parents and carers in them.
Adults stay with their children at playgroup. This gives them the chance to meet other people going through similar experiences and ease the isolation that can come with caring for young children. Families can be gently introduced to community, health and support services while they are at playgroup.
Most families go to community playgroups but in recent years more and more kinds of playgroup models have emerged. Find out about the different playgroup models here.
Why children go
Playgroup aged children are going through a stage of rapid brain and skill development.
Babies are offered play experiences to stimulate their senses. Toddlers practise using their hands, problem solve and use their emerging language skills. Preschool children practise social skills – an important preparation for kindergarten and school.
At playgroup children can:
- make new friends
- have new experiences
- gain self confidence
- develop physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually
- develop their skills of cooperation through music, group singing, free play and snack time
- develop verbal and non verbal communication skills through their contact with other children and adults
- develop fine and gross motor skills
- gain better body control, hand to eye coordination, spatial awareness and balance when they play with balls, sand, blocks, puzzles, playdough, paint and paste
- discover shape, size, texture, quantity and consistency when they play with dough and clay
- learn to recognise colours, develop fine motor skills and express emotions by experimenting with paint, collage, chalk, crayons and stamps
- extend their experience of literacy in a social environment.
How parents benefit
Playgroup can be a lifeline to parents with babies, todders and preschoolers who might not have any other opportunity to get to know local parents going through similar experiences. this is what parents tell us they get from playgroup:
- "The playgroup has been going for years and there's a good supply of toys, play equipment, books and a great outdoor area."
- "It's giving my child some stimulating experiences in a relaxed, informal setting."
- "It opens up the community to you. Before I went to playgroup I had no idea where the best places were to go locally for a good children's doctor or that you could go to the hall down the road for immunisations."
- "I want to meet people who’ve got children the same age as mine."
- "I'm not ready to hand over my child to someone else yet. I'd rather be there and be involved."
- "It's affordable."
- "I'm an army wife and we move around a bit. Playgroup is more like an extended family or support group to army families."
- "I feel comfortable with the other women at playgroup; it used to be a mother's group. I can say anything to them and still feel I'm okay."
- "I like getting out of the house each week away from the mess."
- "It's good to see how other parents solve problems with their children. We've only got one child but we'd like to have more. There's one woman at playgroup who's got four children. She's a good person to talk to sometimes."
- "This is my fourth child and playgroup is a special time each week I can spend just with her."
- "I'd like my child to get to know some kids he's likely to go to kinder with."