As thousands of children and families prepare to celebrate National Playgroup Week (20-26 March 2023), new research highlights the critical role of playgroups in preparing children for success at school.
Research published this month by the Australian Government shows that children who attend playgroup ‘are more likely to be developmentally on track on all five domains of the AEDC [Australian Early Development Census] by the time they commence school’.1 (See Figure 1 below.)
The Parent’s and Carer’s Guide to the AEDC recommends that families utilise playgroups, and other high-quality services, to support their parenting and help their children to thrive.
‘This reinforces earlier studies that show how valuable playgroups are for children and families – and for the nation,’ said Playgroup Australia CEO Dr Amanda Walsh.2
‘Giving children the skills and confidence to be engaged and happy at school is so important,’ Dr Walsh said. ‘Playgroups support these skills – and they help parents and carers to thrive, too.’
One in three Australian children attend a playgroup before they start school. The challenge lies in extending that opportunity to all children.
‘We want every child in Australia to have access to an affordable local playgroup that meets their needs,’ said Dr Walsh. ‘Children of all backgrounds and abilities need the strong foundation for learning that playgroups provide.’
‘All levels of government should be stepping up their investment in playgroups, to ensure that children and families in every community can get together for play, learning and support.’
In 2021-22, Playgroup Australia’s members and service delivery partners supported more than 3,200 playgroups to operate across Australia, delivering more than 120,000 playgroup sessions.
Figure 1: Percentage of children developmentally on track on each AEDC domain and summary indicator by playgroup attendance (2021 AEDC)
Source: Reproduced from Parent’s and Carer’s Guide to the AEDC (2023), p. 3.
1 AEDC. (2023). Parent’s and Carer’s Guide to the AEDC. Australian Early Development Census.
2 Sincovich, A., Harman-Smith, Y., & Brinkman, S. (2019). The reach of playgroups and their benefit for children across Australia: A comparison of 2012, 2015, and 2018 AEDC data. Telethon Kids Institute, South Australia.