Creating a welcoming environment
Key Points for Creating a Welcoming Environment
- Deciding on the type of playgroup you are trying to offer
- Ensuring your promotion/referral strategy gives people enough information to know whether the playgroup is the right one for them
- Process for responding to initial contact from prospective new playgroup families
- Processes for welcoming new families
- Review inclusion processes including toys, promotional material, activities and celebrations
- Assess the physical space
- Seek input and feedback
- Communication with families
Welcoming and including everyone
By their very nature, playgroups bring all kinds of people together including children and their parents and other caregivers from different genders, age groups, abilities, life experiences, cultures, and family and household set-ups. This diversity creates opportunities for a very wide range of possible playgroups, from playgroups that are designed by the age of the child, culture, friendship groups, educational philosophy or people from a particular location.
It is worth remembering that the peer support, or bonding social capital, that is created by building relationships with people with things in common is just as valid, while different, from bridging social capital that creates relationships between people who may not normally meet.
Playgroup families already have the care of young children in common no matter their other commonalities or differences and for many families that core commonality is the most important.
Whether you are a community playgroup or a supported playgroup, it is crucial that you are clear about what type of playgroup audience you are wishing to serve. Who gets to make this decision is also important.
Community playgroups should be deciding this amongst the families that participate. Playgroup WA also thinks it important that these discussions occur within supported playgroups, ideally before they start. Playgroup WA recognises that funding bodies or agencies sometimes decide a particular type of playgroup is needed.
However the decision is reached, being clear about your audience enables you to promote your playgroup effectively and allows families to select playgroups that fits with their situation and interests. A mismatch between family expectations and playgroup expectations is perhaps the most common point of conflict between playgroups and families.
Regardless of the type of playgroup, making everyone feel welcome and included is an important part of ensuring that playgroups remain vibrant, relevant and sustainable. If you have one, taking a look at your playgroup’s charter can be a great place to start. Playgroup WA's charter can be found here.
More information can be found on these pages: