Playgroup is a wonderful place to go each week where you and your child can share new play and learning with other families in your community.
Parents are children’s first and most influential educators and playgroups offer the perfect setting to promote children’s growth, leaning and development. At playgroup parents can partner with their children to explore, investigate, and help them develop an inquiring mind and a sense of curiosity.
Being at playgroup gives parents a unique opportunity to witness and support the learning that happens with everyday play.
Getting involved is about following your child’s interests and recognising the skills that are developing. The hand-eye coordination, language and fine motor skills they are honing when using a paintbrush is more important than the end result. Resist the temptation to take over. If you only focus on the end product you will overlook the richness of the process.
If your child is attracted to the boxes on the table, you could show them how to stack one on top of the other and see what they do. You probably would not realise they are being introduced to elementary mathematical concepts and experimenting through trial and error.
If they love dinosaurs, you could use this interest to build on existing learning by burying a toy dinosaur in the sandpit and helping them dig or brush away sand to find it.
The sandpit is full of opportunities to investigate and discover. When digging and filling a bucket with sand or pouring it into another container, ask questions about whether the sand will fit or how much is required. While doing this you are exploring spatial and mathematical themes. By introducing new words to children and repeating their words or narrating the play, you are involving them in a language and literacy experience.
Children love it when their parents get involved. Here are some ideas:
PLAY WITH NO PROPS REQUIRED
Sit on the floor with knees raised and your child in your lap. Gently rock back and forth or from side to side.
Sit facing each other with knees bent. Hold hands and rock back and forth as you sing ‘Row, Row, Row your boat’.
Crouch on all fours and encourage your child to crawl under you.
Sing ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ to introduce language, active play and music. Do the actions and encourage children to join in.
USING THE DRESS UP BOX
Dig deep into the dress up box for some props to bring a favourite story to life. Encourage children to dress as characters of a favourite story or make up one of their own.
Use your playgroup’s resources to build an obstacle course inside or outside. Drape a blanket over a low table or frame to crawl through. Place some hula hoops or mats on the floor to jump from one side to the other. Adults should be available to encourage and guide children through the course.
Cover a table with a big sheet or blanket so it falls to the ground on each side to make a simple cubby. Lift an end to crawl inside with your child or for your child to investigate alone or with a few other children. Make it look inviting by adding some cushions, picture books or soft toys- half the fun of making a cubby house is in gathering the materials to use.
PARACHUTE PLAY PUTS THE GROUP IN PLAYGROUP
Ask children to lie on the floor. All the parents hold an edge of a parachute (or large piece of sheeting fabric) then raise and lower it until it almost touches the children’s faces. Play some relaxing music during this activity.
Encourage children to hold parachute edges with adults and put a soft ball, teddy bear or other soft toy on top. Bounce the toy up and down without letting it fall off.
Balls are good for throwing, aiming at targets, kicking and rolling. They can be big, bumpy, soft or hard and bought or homemade from a sock, paper or cloth filled with beans or fibrefill and stitched closed.
To make a paper ball, scrunch paper and bind it with electrical tape. The more tape used, the heavier the ball.
To make a sock ball, stuff the toe of a sock with soft fibre filling and tie a secure know. Put a ball inside an old stocking or netting bag oranges are sold in and tie a knot at the top. The bigger the ball, the easier it is for young children to throw and catch.
To help develop hand-eye skills, throw balls or small bean bags into buckets, laundry baskets or big boxes. Throw them at skittles, big chalk shapes drawn on a wall or the ground. Or toss them through hoops or even an adult’s arms linked to form a hoop.
A variety of activities enables your child to flourish.