National Playgroup Week is about Connecting Communities through Play
Every year at playgroup, we celebrate National Playgroup Week. It is an opportunity to welcome new families and volunteers to join our Playgroup Community in “Creating a Village through Play”.
National Playgroup Week recognises the importance of bringing people together through social connection, especially in light of the current global Coronavirus Pandemic and economic instability. While our major events have been postponed and many playgroups suspended temporarily, we are welcoming the endless opportunity for connection that technology offers our community. So while we adhere to recommended physical distancing, we will continue to innovate the way playgroups maintain play and connection.
Playgroup Australia was established more than 45 years ago to provide parents and caregivers an opportunity to engage with their community in a safe, fun, friendly, flexible environment. Playgroups bring families together, be it face-to-face or through digital engagements. They provide a community driven opportunity to connect, support and strengthen each other, building a more cohesive, resilient community with greater capacity both now and for future generations. It is important to remember that although it is hard to see past the current climate, together, we can continue to connect regardless of distance.
“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, especially during times of instability. Community Playgroups are one of the best ways for families to form new friendships within their community. Through digital engagements, we have the opportunity to reach our broader community to share the benefits of playgroup in a unique way.”
– Playgroup Australia CEO Fiona May.
As a community movement, driven largely by volunteers, Community Playgroups represent much of our reach. Growing research highlights the reach of playgroups and their benefit for children’s learning and development, especially in their first five years. Creative and unstructured learning through play is essential to the development of young children, building social and emotional skills, as well as early literacy and numeracy skills which support readiness for school. This type of child led play, is central to playgroup.
In addition to contributing to the social learning of children, playgroups provide vital support and peer education for participating parents and caregivers, assisting families to feel less socially isolated and more confident in their parenting roles. So while being quarantined at home for an extended period may be daunting – our families will not be alone. Our Playgroup Community will continue to engage through digital communications, providing support, social connection, encouragement and inspiration for play.
We recognise global instability and economic downturn can have a huge impact on mental health and wellbeing, and together we will continue to develop and share resources and communications which support young children, parent’s, grandparents, caregivers and communities. While many playgroups may be suspended for an extended period of time, we will continue to welcome new families to join us and maintain opportunities for playgroup coordinators to continue. We encourage our community to visit their state or territory playgroup organisation websites to connect with us for play inspiration and support.
In the words of our Patrons, His Excellency the Governor-General of Australia…
“Stay kind, stay safe, but also – stay playful.”