What happens at Playgroup?
Playgroup is a group experience where preschool aged children and their carers meet together for mutual enrichment to play, to learn, to make friends and to have fun together. Every playgroup is different because it reflects the individuality of its group members.
There are many ways to organise your playgroup session. A typical session might include lots of time for free play for children to enjoy a range of activities, plenty of time for connection & conversations with carers, a group morning tea time for the kids ( kids bring their own snacks) , morning tea for carers, and to finish the session a short mat time that may include a favourite song or story, as well as a Goodbye song. But flexibility is there, playgroup looks different in different places and your playgroup will have your flavour!
At playgroup, adults get to meet other people going through similar experiences, easing the isolation that can come with caring for young children. Playgroup offers lots of time for children to explore toys and activities, and for adults to make connections and even have some “down-time” while their children are happily occupied.
The playgroup model is an evidence-based and community supported way of connecting the local church to its local community. For many decades now, the value of playgroups in the local community has been identified and appreciated. Hundreds of Christian playgroups are scattered throughout Australia – some meeting in churches, others in local community buildings.
The playgroup context is an excellent environment for children aged 0-5 and their parents/care-givers to connect, belong and grow – in relation to the playgroup community, the church community and to God. With the increasing number of options for ministry with children and their families that a church could adopt, why choose playgroups?
- Playgroup provides care and support for families. At a critical stage of life, when there are many pressures and where patterns are being established, such care and support is vital.
- Playgroup is a relaxed space of welcome and grace. A healthy community is very good for the mental wellbeing of parents and simple sensory play is very good for growing children.
- Playgroup connects. Families and households of all shapes and sizes can connect to God, church communities and one another through playgroup.
- Playgroup enhances parenting capacity. Through the care and guidance of other families and/or a playgroup leader, there is an opportunity for parents to develop individual strengths, increase parental capacity and find their place in a connected, supportive community.
- Playgroup provides a lifeline. Many parents and care-givers are facing challenges in life and can be grateful for further
support. Whether it be isolation, lack of confidence, disconnection from community, vulnerability or disadvantage, playgroup can foster connection and affirmation.
- Playgroup provides a place for discovery. Tender young humans and their significant grown-ups can discover, alongside Christian families from your church, how the world works and how to do life safely and wonderfully and messily together.
- Playgroup celebrates the ‘great that you’re here life’. The ‘we’ve got time to listen life’, the ‘tears are OK life’, the ‘crayons and paper are enough life’ and the ‘lived together life‘ model a grace and good-news filled alternative way of being for families and households.
- Playgroup fosters kingdom belonging. Through the simplicity of play – a large cardboard box, a tray of ice, or a tub of car toys – playgroup is a relaxed and strategic space where the kingdom of God belongs easily – justice, hope, love , faith, risk, generosity , truth telling, forgiveness and second chances.
Ten Steps to starting a playgroup or revisiting your purpose
You may be thinking of starting a Playgroup at your church or wanting to revisit your purpose of running a Playgroup. These 10 steps will keep you focused on the end goal.