Valuing and including all families
Families generally come to playgroup to meet and interact with others and to give their children opportunities to play and socialise with other children.
Focusing on what we have in common, rather than our differences, helps to create a respectful and inclusive space for play and social interaction to take place. Inclusive practices support children’s emotional and social development and encourage awareness of individual differences and appreciation of diversity within our communities.
Inclusion encourages empathy and understanding which benefits everyone. A little thought and planning will help all families to feel welcome and included regardless of their differences or personal circumstances.
We have outlined below some ideas for including families from different cultures, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, and adults or children with a disability.
You may be aware of other differences amongst families within the community and these ideas might be useful in prompting discussion about things your playgroup can do that will help all families to feel welcome and included.
Playgroup WA’s website has information and resources to help playgroups in thinking about how they can be more inclusive. Check out our Inclusive Playgroups page here for more information. Some specific tips and ideas for things playgroups can do are also included in this section.
Different cultures and language groups
Western Australia is made up of people from all over the world with different cultural backgrounds and languages. Playgroup WA also acknowledge the range and diversity of Aboriginal cultural and language groups across the state and the special place they have as traditional owners of the land.
There are lots of ways in which playgroups can recognise and value the diversity of families across communities and the state including the following suggestions:
- Display a poster that says welcome or hello in different languages. Remember to include local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages appropriate for your area where you can.
- Check the spelling and pronunciation of names so everyone can write and say names correctly.
- Have families from different cultures represented on flyers and promotional material.
- Include activities that allow families to share information and other things such as, play and craft ideas, recipes, songs and stories from their culture or language.
- Find out about and celebrate different cultural festivals at playgroup.
- Include toys, books and other resources that reflect diverse cultures, languages and groups.
Children or adults with disabilities
People with disabilities have similar needs to everyone else in the community to enjoy play and social interaction with others. Their experience of having a disability and how that impacts on individuals will vary.
Gaining understanding about ways in which your playgroup can include and support families with a disability will contribute to families feeling respected and valued. Some suggestions for things your playgroup can do are below:
- Talk with families about things that might make it easier for them to participate in and contribute to the playgroup including any special toys or equipment.
- Think about the access to the building as well as the layout within the playgroup areas. Look at any changes that might be required to make it easier for people with disabilities to participate in the play and social environments. You may need to contact the venue owner to ask about changes that are required to improve physical access.
- Be open to changing routines or processes to allow everyone, including people with disabilities to participate as fully as possible.
- Include toys, books and other resources that reflect physical differences.
- Include a variety of images of families in your promotional materials
Building peer support and creating a sense of belonging
One of the benefits of playgroups is the peer support and sense of belonging that families experience through their interaction with others. Opportunities to share information, exchange ideas, contribute knowledge and skills and support each other are powerful and important outcomes for individuals, playgroups and the community.
When families feel welcome and included at playgroup, they are more likely to offer and look for support from each other and to experience a sense of belonging and ownership within the group. Playgroups can also encourage this in lots of ways including:
- seeking input and feedback from families
- asking for help with tasks – drawing on the knowledge, skills and experience of families
- communicating information including management issues, policies, procedures and decision to families – see the Managing a Community Playgroup section
- celebrating together.