What is a playgroup?
A playgroup is a group of parents, caregivers and extended family who come together with their babies and young children in a relaxed and friendly environment to learn together through play.
Playgroups vary with some groups having one session a week made up of three or more families to playgroups with multiple sessions over a week and over 100 families. In WA there are hundreds of community playgroup sessions running every week through the efforts of families and volunteers. There are also playgroups, referred to as supported or facilitated playgroups, that have a paid facilitator who is typically employed by an organisation. Different models of playgroup are explored in Playgroup Models.
It is important to note that playgroups are different to childcare and kindergarten programs. At playgroup, parents and caregivers attend with their children and retain responsibility for the supervision and care of the children they bring to playgroup.
Some common characteristics of playgroup include:
- members include parents, caregivers and young children from 0-5 years of age
- meet regularly, often for two hours each session
- often family run and organised by members
- a great place for children and their carer(s) to learn and play together
- welcoming and friendly to all families wishing to join
- held in a convenient location for its members in the community, such as community centres, homes, schools, healthcare centres and libraries.
Note: “Playgroup” in the United Kingdom and Ireland, refers to a teacher leading a group of children with parental involvement quite variable. This can get quite confusing for people looking at overseas research or watching UK television programs referring to playgroup. Playgroups as we know them do happen in the UK and Ireland but they mostly call them baby and toddler groups.
What happens at playgroup?
First and foremost, PLAY! Playgroup sessions are also generally a combination of both structured and unstructured play with free play and planned activities including:
- indoor and outdoor play
- physical play
- arts and craft
- music and movement
- story time and nursery rhymes
- conversation and support
- morning tea/snacks or refreshments