Creating a village through play

By Playgroup Australia*

11 March 2020

They say raising a child takes a village, but our villages have become smaller, more complicated and less connected. Playgroup Australia is looking to change that. Every year, playgroups across Australia open their doors during National Playgroup Week to invite new families and communities to experience the playgroup difference, to connect and to create a village through play.

For over 45 years, playgroups have been fostering relationships between young children and families, strengthening parental capacity and community cohesion. As one of the largest civil society movements, Playgroup Australia was established to respond to the changing needs of our unique local communities. Through playgroup, parents, grandparents and caregivers are offered opportunities to support each other through shared experiences, while children are provided a safe, engaging environment to explore and develop.

“Playgroups bring families together. Families from all backgrounds and walks of life are welcome at playgroup. From personal experience, connecting with other parents sharing the same experience is incredibly beneficial. It’s one of the best ways for families to form new friendships with families in their neighbourhood.” – Playgroup Australia CEO Fiona May.

Every week, over 127,000 participants across Australia come together at community halls, neighbourhood centres, churches, family homes and parks. Because playgroups are community-based and mostly organised by families, it’s an affordable activity for all families, with inexpensive membership and attendance costs. While play is an important part of early childhood development, these shared experiences contribute towards physical and mental wellbeing for both adults and children.

Creative and unstructured learning through play is essential to the development of young children and playgroup is an ideal place to encourage child-led play activities. Playgroups are universally beneficial for children from diverse backgrounds reaching more than 70% of Australian postcodes. The benefits are seen across all domains of child development: physical, social, emotional, language, cognitive development and communication.

In addition to contributing to the social learning of children, playgroups provide support and peer education for participating parents and caregivers. They assist families to feel less socially isolated and build a sense of place or affiliation with the local community. Playgroups are not only good for children and families, investment in playgroups has lasting economic benefits for whole communities.

Being recognised as a Very Neighbourly Organisation fits very closely with our own vision, “Creating a Village through Play”. We welcome the opportunity to join others to spark social connection. If you already attend playgroup, we encourage you to invite your neighbours to join you during National Playgroup Week. It takes just one neighbour to offer a simple gesture to start connecting a community. When we come together as communities to support families, children thrive.

Visit www.playgroupaustralia.com.au  to learn how you can join a playgroup, start a playgroup or donate to help Playgroup Australia connect more families through play.

*Playgroup Australia is a national Very Neighbourly Organisation.