Playgroups are a great way for your young child to practise getting along with others and try new ways to play. Playgroups can also help you meet other parents in your community, share parenting experiences and make new friends.
What is a playgroup?
A playgroup is a regular and relaxed meeting for groups of young children who haven’t yet started school and their parents or caregivers. Children do organised play activities together while their parents or caregivers supervise and socialise.
Usually, playgroups happen once a week.
Playgroups are usually non-profit community groups run by and for the people who go to them. This means they’re low cost and anybody can go.
Why playgroups are good for children
Playgroups are great fun! Your young child will get to try different play activities – singing, dancing, art and craft – with other children.
At playgroup, your child can:
- enjoy new books and music
- try out new imaginative and creative activities
- practise how to play with other children
- learn how to interact with adults other than parents or caregivers.
Experiencing different types of play activities can help your child learn how to solve problems. For example, jigsaw puzzles give your child practice at solving problems using trial and error, and making crafts lets your child experiment with different ways to use materials and make things.
Although your child might not go to school for another year or more, playgroups can also help young children start developing skills they need for school, like learning to share, taking turns and making friends.
Why playgroups are good for parents
Playgroups can give you and your child some time for one-on-one play away from home and everyday distractions.
Playgroups are also a good opportunity for you to:
- meet new people and make new friends
- share concerns, ideas and experiences
- learn from other parents
- learn more about your community and connect with local services.
Finding a local playgroup
You can find playgroups all across Australia. To contact an existing playgroup or to set up one, talk to your local playgroup association or call their toll free number – 1800 171 882. There’s a playgroup association in almost every state and territory in Australia.
Playgroup associations can offer:
- play ideas and professional support for activities
- advice about resources
- regular playgroup publications
- information on conferences and workshops
- comprehensive insurance cover
- details of special events like national playgroup day, playgroup month and children’s concerts.
Most playgroup associations are members of Playgroup Australia.
Types of playgroups
There are three main types of playgroups:
Community playgroups are managed by the parents and carers who use them. 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 offer families help to model parenting behaviour, a safe environment where young children can learn and support to link with community services.
Some playgroups are designed specifically for children with disability. Contact Playgroup Australia
to ask about groups in your area, or visit PlayConnect
to find out about groups for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
This short video features parents sharing their experiences of playgroups, child care and preschool. Parents talk about strategies they use to settle their children into play and care outside the home. The video also discusses how parents feel about their children going to care and preschool.