Heading to one of the North Shore local playgroups can help mums and bubs feel like a part of a community in an increasingly busy neighbourhood! In fact, did you know in the last 10 years the Ku-ring-gai area has had an increase of over 800 children under four years old? Yet, being a mother seems more isolating than ever before. If you’re feeling disconnected or you just need some social interaction, heading to a North Shore playgroup can help.
Why should you take your child to playgroup?
Playgroups are a fun, cheap and easy way to get out of the house with your kids. Kids gain so much from playing together or alongside each other and mums and carers love the social connections they make. If you’ve never been to a playgroup or you’re not really sure what a playgroup is, read on to find out how valuable North Shore local playgroups are.
North Shore local playgroups: Do we need them?
According to Playgroup NSW, playgroups are being forced to close down (most due to high costs and lack of volunteers) all across the state. Yet, the need for community playgroups is more apparent than ever.
According to the most recent ABS census data, there are 6027 children in Ku-ring-gai between the ages of 0-4. This is an increase of 800 compared to 10 years prior. In addition to the increase in young kids in the area, more people are living in apartments and smaller blocks of land than ever before. One study of the Lower North Shore showed a 30% increase in the number of apartments on the market compared to 4 years ago.
While higher density living has its advantages, it means that kids have less space for outdoor play and exploration at home. This makes playgroups, especially ones with outdoor play areas, an important part of our community. Unfortunately, despite the two points mentioned above, mums and parents report feeling more isolated than ever:
- According to Essential Baby, a whopping 90% of mums feel lonely since having children
- Another 2018 study showed that just over 1 in 4 Aussies don’t speak to their neighbours
So, how can playgroups help?
How playgroups help kids
“Children who did not attend a playgroup prior to commencing school were almost twice as likely to be rated by their teacher as having trouble adjusting to primary school” Kids Telethon Institute research paper, 2017
A playgroup is a fun and safe environment for your kids to play and learn. Playgroup NSW groups the benefits of playgroups into the five categories below:
- Allowing children to develop at their own pace. Playgroup is a casual setting that allows kids to take the lead in their own learning through play.
- Building a child’s emotional confidence. Doing activities with a parent or loved one builds stronger connections and helps to form your little one’s sense of self. Having a consistent routine, like going to playgroup once a week, helps kids to feel secure and confident.
- Encouraging physical activity. Playgroups offer the space to develop kid’s gross and fine motor skills, either individually or in groups.
- Supporting children’s imagination and creativity. Unstructured play helps kids think creatively and allows their brains to develop. Different surroundings and toys at playgroup allows kids to enjoy new activities.
- Learning through role-play. Role-play, including dress-ups and kid’s games that mimic real life, are vital for developing kids’ understanding of the world and their problem-solving abilities. Playgroup offers safe opportunities for kids to experience different situations than they are used to at home.
It is difficult and not always helpful to analyse social skills in small children but it is interesting to note that the Government Department of Education and Early Childhood Development has reported an improvement in children’s social skills after attending playgroup regularly.
How North Shore local playgroups help mum and families
“Playgroups provide valued social support and peer education for parents, particularly mothers, at a challenging time of life, contributing to personal development, including learning new skills and knowledge.” RMIT University research paper, 2016
The kids don’t get to have all the fun! Kids come to playgroup with a variety of carers; mum, dad, grandma, nanny, and the list goes on. Playgroup offers a chance to get to know and socialise with other parents and carers in your community. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and playgroup is an important part of that village for many parents. Don’t be surprised if you make lifelong friends at your local playgroup.
Playgroup is also a great place to spend some quality time with your child. At playgroup, there are not the same distractions that you might get at home (such as seemly never-ending piles of laundry). It is a special time and place where you can put aside the pressures of daily life and focus on your child/ren. Studies have shown that playgroup helps to enhance parent-child relationships.
Finally, parents and carers love playgroups because they can take along kids of any age (up to school age). Some playgroups offer sessions with specific age range, like a baby playgroup, but most will be happy for you to bring along all your young children. Multi-age play has plenty of benefits for kids as well, but it’s parents who really enjoy being able to take their baby and preschool-aged kids to the same activity.
Essential Details: Pymble Playgroup (one of many North Shore local playgroups)
- Where: Pymble House, 57 Merrivale Road, Pymble
- More information: Check out the Pymble Playgroup website for more details
Pymble Playgroup offers the convenience of a friendly, relaxed, all-weather environment for young children and their carers to connect, play and learn. Sessions are run every weekday. Check out the Pymble Playgroup website for more details.