Children play to learn and learn to play.
Playgroups are designed to simulate a child’s home environment – clean, stable stimulating, yet distinct from a typical home routine of family activities and rules.
We can distinguish between two types of playgroups: facilitated and informal. In the former, trained early childhood educators facilitate children’s learning through play that revolves around a syllabus and is guided by some structure and rules. Informal playgroups on the other hand sprout up when a gathering of parents with children of the same age meet, and where unstructured play is the order of the day.
Either way, playgroups are pivotal in a child’s developmental years. In a conducive playgroup setting, little ones learn not only to play independently, but also to acquire social skills like cooperation and group bonding through peer interaction. Playgroup children learn different ways of playing from observing and interacting with other children. They learn and practice give and take while in a group setting – sharing, taking turns, cooperating, getting along with others, and communicating with peers, all of which are critical communal skills to develop from young.
Playgroups also introduce essential disciplines to children, such as following routines and instructions, keeping to a timetable, packing their bags, being responsible for their own belongings – all of which foster independence.
Knowledge creation in playgroups happen when children are introduced to a variety of topics and activities such as painting & craftwork, sand and water play, outdoor play, exploring nature; counting, sorting and measuring; sing-along sessions, story time, show and tell, and more.
The advantages of attending a facilitated playgroup extend to parents and caregivers as well who get to share resources and ideas on child-rearing from their children’s school teachers, invited guest speakers and other parents. Many also appreciate the bonds they form that can last for years even after their children move on to formal schooling. Besides care, support and social contact reliable playgroups are a great way to reduce isolation for children even as they learn to be independent.