Research across many age groups, report an increasing sense of loneliness. For parents and caregivers navigating the early years, new responsibility, expectations and a lack of sleep contribute to social isolation.
This week, the way we work, play, and connect as a community took a major turn due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. While the changes we currently face have challenged our norms and routines, there are growing glimmers of hope thanks to the village. Communities working together to remind each other – we are all in this together.
Nearly 50 years ago, our playgroup village was established by the community for the community. Even before Playgroup Australia and our state and territory organisations began initiatives “Creating a village through play”, playgroups were already playing an important role in connecting culture and community. The age old saying, “it takes a village to raise a child” was just part of how our journey began.
Today, especially, we know it’s even more than that.
Right from the womb, babies seek contact. They respond to light, touch and sound. From birth they seek out faces and respond to sounds, seeking physical contact and reassurance. Babies and young children need to be engaged through positive serve and return with others. They thrive on new experiences and social situations.
Playgroups encourage essential concepts of child led play, by creating environments and activities that nurture and support children and caregivers. Unlike many other play programs, playgroups involve children and primary caregivers equally, strengthening a sense of belonging and bonding child parent relationships.
Play experiences bring people together, helping to develop stronger connections with community, and a greater understanding of the world they share. Together these benefit parental capacity and community cohesion.
We all want to belong, to gain a sense of security. We crave connection with others. Nurturing ourselves and others, is what gives us energy and purpose.
So, while we all face a greater sense of isolation, let’s be reminded that we are not alone. Our national playgroup community have been inspired by this global pandemic, innovating our approach to play to ensure all children, families and communities have access to play. We have expanded our online presence and introduced a digital campaign initiative, Playgroup at Home, to support families to play, share and connect.
For those who don’t have access to internet and devices, we are engaging with the broader community through campaigns like Neighbour Day, The Kindness Pandemic, and social initiatives like Rainbow Windows and neighbourhood bear hunts inspired by the children’s book “We’re going on a bear hunt” by Michael Rosen.
For our Intergenerational Playgroup Community who are at greatest risk, we have continued to work with the ABC TV + iview to share ideas of how to stay connected over the phone, with letters, or video storytime.
Playgroups whether online or face-to-face, are a place to create new social supports. A place where children thrive on nurture; parents, grandparents and caregivers can share a cuppa and catch up on one another’s experiences; a place to have a purpose, a place to love, a place to have fun and a place to belong.
Our Playgroup Community, is creating a village through play. A new home away from home, where everyone is welcome!