The Playgroup programme was created in response to the dramatically poor offer of services for the youngest children (from several months to 3 years) and their parents. The awareness that our basic intellectual, social and emotional skills and competences are formed in early childhood is growing in Poland. However, this does not go hand in hand with the development of the offer for children.
Playgroups are meetings for young children and their parents (carers) under the supervision of a trained animator. Unlike other forms of childcare, parents or carers accompany their children in the playgroup. This not only serves the well-being of the children, but also allows parents to develop their own parenting skills and strengthen their relationship with their children. Parents have the opportunity to discover the value of playing together and its importance for their child’s development.
Children can participate in a Playgroup from a few months to four-five years of age. However, experience shows that it is best to organise activities in two age groups: children from several months to 3 years and children from 3 to 5 years. Meetings are usually held once a week and last 1.5-2 hours.
Playgroups are an excellent way of supporting the development of the youngest children. Especially when the child is too young to go to kindergarten or when there is no kindergarten in the neighbourhood. It is also an excellent form of adaptation of the child and the parent to the nursery or children’s club. In addition, regular meetings develop the parents’ organisational and social skills. The parents actively participate in the activities – together with the animator/activist they develop the rules of the group, the programme of activities with children, the schedule, they propose and independently conduct games with children.
BENEFITS – WHY FORM A PLAYGROUP?
Participating in a Playgroup allows children to:
- learn through observation and imitation;
- interact with children of different ages;
- learn new words;
- develop independence;
- play with other children;
- learn about and respect the rules of the group, which facilitates adaptation in the nursery and later in kindergarten.
Participation in the Playgroup gives parents the opportunity to:
- observe the developmental stages of children at different ages;
- exchange experiences on raising children;
- focusing on the child – learning to listen, talking to the child;
- recognising the needs of the child, meeting the need for closeness;
- learning about ways to develop curiosity and perseverance in children;
- creating a developmental environment for children by giving them freedom to act;
- to find out about different ideas for playing with your child.
Through Playgroups the local community gains:
- a new form of education for young children;
- easier adaptation of children to nursery and kindergarten;
- a new form of social prevention – economical, systemic, concerning the whole family
- the opportunity to make use of parents’ diverse skills
- possibility of sensible use of housing resources;
- spreading awareness of the importance of education of young children;
- proof that local authorities care about the education of young children and the best possible development of all members of the community
TRAINING FOR THE ANIMATOR
Participation in the 20-hour training course enables the animator to
- independently prepare and lead activities with children under 3 and their caregivers (parents or other adults accompanying the children), in accordance with the guidelines of Playgroups;
- use knowledge in the field of developmental psychology and pedagogy of a child up to 3 years old;
- establish relations with parents and the local community;
- prepare meeting scenarios, taking into consideration children’s needs and capabilities, and involve parents in the meetings
- evaluate the meetings and plan the development of the Playgroup.