About playgroup

Playgroups bring young children, parents, families and communities together to learn and develop through informal play activities and social interaction. Playgroups help parents and caregivers build social and support networks that encourage and assist them in their valuable parenting role.

They help families to have fun and relax and to build friendships that last beyond playgroup. Playgroups work best when they are inclusive of all, creating an open, welcoming and friendly environment for all children and their families, no matter their circumstances, backgrounds or cultural identity.

At playgroup you get to meet other people going through similar experiences, ease the isolation that can come with caring for young children and find out about local community, health and support services

The value of play

Young children go through rapid brain and skill development. Babies play experiences stimulate their senses and toddlers build on these play experiences to practise using their hands and their emerging language skills. Preschool children continue to learn as they play and practise social skills, an important preparation for kindergarten and school.

At playgroup children can:

  • develop physically, socially, emotionally and intellectually
  • make new friends
  • have new experiences
  • gain self confidence
  • develop cooperation skills
  • develop communication skills
  • extend their experience of literacy in a social environment. 

What families say about playgroup

 “I love chatting to the other parents and my kids love playing with the new and different toys. In winter it is great place to just get out of the house to.”

“Can't emphasise enough how beneficial it's been to me. I'm a single parent who studies and works and have found a lot of challenges meeting other parents because of that…. since joining playgroup in my new area I have found parental support and my son has made friends of whom I know will remain his friends for years. Play group was a life saver for me and made such a difference in our lives.”

“At the beginning I just did it to get out of the house with the kids. But then I realised it was for me as well. Talking to other women in your same situation is quite empowering and helpful.”

“As a first time parent in a different country, playgroups give a sense of comfort when talking to other parents and understanding the highs and lows that they experience.”

“Attending playgroup allows me to interact with other adults and discuss everyday things as well as any issues out children are having. It is an opportunity to have a social outing that is relaxed and enjoyable while the children are entertained and engaged. This is really important to me since I am not currently working and adult conversation is limited. I feel it really supports my mental well being to regularly attend playgroup”.

“A good opportunity for parents who are feeling isolated in a rural community. A good social and developmental opportunity for the children and an activity that I can specifically take my one year old to (not with his kindergarten aged siblings)”

Commonly asked questions about playgroup

How long does a playgroup run for?

Usually for between 1.5 and 3 hours each week during school terms but every playgroup can vary slightly.

Are playgroups just for first time parents?

It depends on the family and their needs. Some come with a first child and others with several children or just their second or third child. The connections and learning at playgroup are beneficial for all stages of family life.

How much does playgroup cost?

Playgroups are low cost and run by the parents or carers in them. Some playgroups ask for a gold coin per session that you attend; others may require a term fee. 

Is it important to find a playgroup with the same aged child as mine?

Not necessarily, though some families prefer that. Babies learn from watching older children, parents and carers learn from each other’s experience and mixed ages reflect the communities we live in.

I have several children. Can they all come to playgroup?

If the children are between 0-5 years they are welcome at playgroups and many have siblings attending.

What structure is there at playgroup?

Different playgroups prefer varying amounts of structure but common components of playgroups are free play, snack time, rhyme/song time and reading time. The benefit of connecting with other families while playing is the key to the value of playgroup, for social and emotional wellbeing and learning.

Can I opt out of playgroup if I don’t want to or can’t come any more?

Most playgroups offer one ‘come along for a session and try us out’ before committing to join. This is a great chance to find out if it suits you. Also, families move on regularly from playgroups as they return to work, study or change locations. Just let the contact person know you won’t be returning.

Are there language based playgroups? (e.g my family speaks Italian at home and we want to extend this).

There are many language/culturally specific playgroups, including Japanese, Italian, Chinese, French, German, Arabic, Spanish and Dutch. There are also playgroups that offer a Montessori or Steiner approach or are run by dads or grandparents.

Click here to ‘search for a playgroup’ (tick the ‘culturally specific’ box and insert your postcode and km’s to find the one nearest you).

Who ‘runs’ a playgroup ?

There are two main types of playgroup. The community playgroup is parent-led meaning that parents who attend the playgroup manage and organise it.  Supported playgroups are facilitated by support workers who assist families with particular needs.