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. In a playgroup, children do organised play activities together while their parents or caregivers supervise and socialise.
Usually, playgroups happen once a week.
Why playgroups are good for children
Playgroups can be great fun! Also, children learn best through play. At playgroup, your child can:
- enjoy looking at books, playing music and doing craft
- try out new and creative activities, equipment and toys
- play with other children of different ages
- learn how to interact with adults other than her own parents or caregivers.
If your child has the opportunity to try different play activities, it gives her lots of ways to learn and chances to practise what she’s learning. For example, jigsaw puzzles give your child practice at solving problems using trial and error. Making crafts lets your child experiment with different ways to use materials and make things. And jumping through hoops outside helps your child build physical skills and confidence.
Playgroups can also help young children start developing skills they need for kindergarten and school, like learning to share, taking turns, making friends and being part of a group.
Some playgroups are designed specifically for children with disabilities. 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 parents and caregivers
Playgroups can give you and your child some time for one-on-one play away from home and routines. They’re also a good option if you feel that you don’t have a lot of activities for your child to do at home or are looking for different ideas for playing with your child.
Playgroups give you the chance to:
- meet new people and make new friends
- share tips, concerns, ideas and experiences
- learn from other parents and caregivers
- learn more about your community
- connect with local services like child care centres, kindergartens, schools and more.
Some playgroups are run in community languages like Chinese, Vietnamese, German, Italian, Spanish, Arabic, Fari, Dutch, indigenous languages and many more. And there are playgroups for dads, grandparents, rainbow and same-sex families and foster parents.
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 the toll free number – 1800 171 882. There’s a playgroup association in almost every state and territory in Australia.
Playgroup associations can offer:
- resources, play ideas and professional support
- advice about how to organise a playgroup session
- regular playgroup publications
- information on programs, 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. They are usually non-profit, which means they’re low cost and anybody can go. 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 help parents learn about raising children, creating a safe environment where young children can learn, and getting support from community services.