By Raising Children Network
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Baby playing with block stacking toys credit Rob Hainer/

Did you know?Question mark symbol

Your child develops and learns best through play and fun activities – exactly what playgroups offer.
Playgroups are a great way for small children to practise the fine art of getting along with others and trying new ways to play. A regular playgroup can be great for mums, dads and caregivers too, offering lots of support and social contact.

Playgroups: the basics

There are three main styles of playgroups:

  • Mainstream playgroups are self-managed by the parents and carers who use them. About 92 000 families a year go to about 8100 mainstream playgroups.
  • Supported playgroups have the help of a facilitator. At supported playgroups parents under extra pressure can get support. These playgroups are for families from a variety of cultural and language backgrounds, 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. They provide support and information about a wide range of services available to families.

Playgroups are run at low cost so everyone can use them. They are non-profit organisations run by and for those who attend. Playgroups that run in preschools also try to keep costs down for members, often by running fundraising activities.

Some playgroups are designed just 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).

Why playgroups are good for children

Playgroups are great fun! Your young child will get to sing, dance, try new art and craft activities, share experiences, and mix with other young children.

While your child is busy scrabbling in the sandpit or painting a masterpiece, your child will also be picking up valuable new skills and experiences. These include:

  • learning to play with other children 
  • experiencing new play and art opportunities
  • finding out more about the world and other people
  • experiencing books and music
  • improving problem-solving abilities.

Why playgroups are good for parents

You can share a cup of coffee and chat about your experiences while your children play. Playgroups are a good opportunity for you to:

  • make new friends
  • reduce isolation
  • share concerns, ideas and experiences
  • learn from other parents.

Finding a local playgroup

To set up a new playgroup or contact an existing service, talk to your local Playgroup Association. There’s one in every state and territory in Australia.

You can also find your nearest playgroup (or start a new playgroup) by calling the Playgroup Association’s toll free number: 1800 171 882.

Playgroup Associations can offer:

  • professional support for activities and play ideas
  • advice about resources
  • regular playgroup publications
  • information on conferences and workshops
  • training
  • insurance
  • details of special events such as national playgroup day, playgroup month and children’s concerts.

All Playgroup Associations are members of Playgroup Australia.

Video Playgroups

This short video features parents sharing their experiences of about 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.
  • Last updated or reviewed 30-05-2014