Are Playgroups Necessary for Children?


Playing is an important part of your child’s learning journey. Not only are they are great well to develop social and problem-solving skills, but they're also an excellent way to make new friends while building fundamental skills. Nowadays, as more and more playgroups open, this makes it easier for children to develop their social-emotional skills before entering school. But choosing the right one is not always an easy task - so in this post I'm going to give you some helpful advice!

What is a Playgroup? 
A playgroup is usually a regular meeting, in which babies, toddlers, or preschoolers can learn through creative and social plays. They are also a great place for parents to be social and network within the community, making them perfect for finding 'mum' friends who have children of a similar age to yours.

Playgroups are usually categorised into ones suitable for different ages:

- Between 6 and 12 months, a playgroup will focus on developing sensory, gross and fine-motor skills through various hands-on activities, such as songs, and stories, to help nurture their curiosity and interests. These types of playgroups in Hong Kong are quite common. 

- Between 1 and 2 years old, a playgroup will help toddlers to continue exploring their sensory and motor skills while developing social and communication skills through songs, stories, and other stimulating activities. Examples of these types of groups could be messy play, music time or the beginnings of dance classes.

- Between 2 and 3 years old, most will include more interactive activities on top of sensory exploration and hands-on learning. Physical activities such as Gymboree and toddler sports classes are great for this age.

What is Taught in a Playgroup? 
Of course each different playgroup will have different learning objectives and goals to focus on. The approaches and teaching would be different at various age levels, but overall the ultimate goal is learning through play. From songs, stories, hands-on activities to interactive games, a playgroup ensures that every child is learning something while playing. Adults support children to do the activities with a schedule so that they can establish their own routines and shape good learning habits. 

Most of the activities are theme-based following a curriculum designed appropriately for different age groups. It allows children to play and understand their companions and surroundings while developing fundamental skills. 

A playgroup provides children with the chance to engage with other kids and enrich their learning experience in a diverse and immersive learning environment.

Through attending playgroup, children can:

  • Learn language skills (speaking and listening).
  • Build awareness of their surroundings. 
  • Develop physical skills. 
  • Boosts curiosity and creativity. 
  • Spark interests in various areas. 
  • Develop social skills (manage their emotions, express their feelings, interact with others). 
  • Build confidence and self-awareness. 
  • Build independent thinking skills. 
  • Develop decision-making and problem-solving skills. 
  • Develop communication and collaboration skills. 

What makes a Good Playgroup?
A good playgroup gets children involved in multiple task-based learning activities, allowing children to explore, question, communicate, ask for help from team members, think creatively, and solve problems with innovative solutions. 

But of course, at the end of the day the best playgroups for you and your child, will be the one where they are happy and comfortable in their surroundings. Some children thrive in a music or dance class, whereas others will prefer a less structured approach to a class. My youngest mostly enjoyed the free-reign church groups where she could just play with countless toys, and decide where she wanted to be and when.

This is a collaborative post.

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