“I get a sense of community and a wealth of knowledge. We have also been active in supporting each other's struggles and triumphs. Great support network!” (playgroup parent, 2016)
New playgroups are created by parents and community leaders to meet local family’s needs. Some of the reasons new playgroups are born include
- A local playgroup is no longer running/the area is not currently serviced by a playgroup
- A 6 week MCH First Time Parents Group is finishing but would like to continue as a group
- A cultural group wants a place for families to meet
- An area is growing quickly and needs more playgroups
- There is a need in the local community
The basics for set-up
Where to meet
Finding a venue is a vital first step. Consider joining an existing session or creating a new session with an existing playgroup as this takes all the hassle out of finding a venue. It also helps with promotion, set up and resourcing (toys, furniture). Your local council will know about multi-session playgroups using their venues.
If you need to create a new playgroup, primary schools are great locations and you can contact the Principal about the possibility. Most local community centres will hire their rooms to playgroups for a low weekly fee. Contact your local council for more information.
Toys and furniture
You can seek donations from your community, local businesses, fundraise or approach your council for support. Toy libraries sometimes offer partnership opportunities. Here is a SAMPLE LIST of common resources to create an engaging playgroup environment.
Comprehensive insurance cover is vital in case of accidents and damage to property. Many local Councils require playgroups to have insurance as part of their venue leasing agreements. Playgroup Victoria’s Family Membership provides the following insurance cover.
Structuring your session
Playgroups often choose to have time for free play and also include snack time, story time and rhyme time. Read more HERE about the playgroup routine.
Playgroups naturally reflect the communities they are located within and all benefit from an open door policy. This includes welcoming families from all cultures, backgrounds and abilities, those raising a child with a disability and members of the LGBTI community. An open playgroup is a thriving playgroup and has benefits for all parents and children as they learn more about the diverse world they live in.
Being mindful of each family’s emotional support needs strengthens your playgroup. For information about postnatal depression and anxiety visit PANDA and other support services
Keep a simple first aid kit on hand for minor injuries and have a list of emergency contacts for each family available in the case of a parent being injured/unable to care for their child.Best practice is to keep written record of any injuries, accidents or near misses that occur at playgroup. Those with Playgroup Membership can access the Playgroup Victoria injury record form after logging in.
It is common practice is to create a ‘nut free zone’ in places where children gather. Check with each family and record any known allergies on enrolment forms (link to PG Vic enrolment form) and inform all families. You can also pin up a poster to encourage awareness. Click HERE to download ‘Allergies in playgroups’.
Establishing good childhood eating habits are a key way to set up good lifelong ones. Click HERE to download ‘Healthy Eating and Play for Toddlers’.
Supporting families raising children with a disability will benefit from you being well-informed. Click HERE to find out more.
Victoria Child Safe Standards
In 2017 Victoria introduced updated standards. Click HERE to learn more or call (03) 8601 5281
New members keep playgroups alive. Click to download the templates to help promote awareness about your playgroup in your community.
Tip: A Facebook page is a useful tool for attracting interest from new families (check ours out here). A connected closed group allows privacy for images and discussion.
It’s a good idea to set up a specific playgroup e-mail so enquiries or newsletters can be managed by more than one person.
Some playgroups use a Gmail account to store documents and templates and use calendar They can be accessed by anyone with the password and is particularly useful when the playgroup leadership changes.
Play and learning
Our A-Z playsheets have lots of fun and simple activities for young children. Head to the member login to access these.
Visit Playmap to browse through play ideas for young children with developmental benefits highlighted.
There are so many creative play ideas online. Here are some we like:
The Imagination Tree is a blog with many creative play ideas
Learning 4 Kids has a range of ideas and grouped according to age
KidSpot has tonnes of recipes, meal ideas, craft and activity ideas
Play Based Learning focuses on kindergarten level activities but can be adapted to playgroup needs
Pintrest is full of images that inspire great play ideas