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Why You Should Join a Playgroup

by Shannon Meyerkort (follow)
Senior writer for WeekendNotes and Perth Mums Group. Founder of fundraisingmums.com.au
Toddlers (116)      Parents (105)      Babies (97)      How To (21)     
September 2016

Playgroup WA is a community run, not-for-profit organisation that oversees the many hundreds of playgroups across Perth. Running since 1972, Playgroup is for children aged 0 to 5 and their parents or carers.

You can meet other mums and families
Playgroup involves a weekly session, involving play, social interaction and community building with families of similar ages living in your local area.

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For people who have just moved to Perth, or who did not join a mothers group, they can often be the best way to meet other mums and carers – especially since you are able to select groups based on where you live and how old your child is.

There are special groups for special families
If you have more specific needs, you can use the Playgroup WA (Inc) website to find other types of groups such as intergenerational playgroups, Montessori playgroups, Indigenous playgroups, dads playgroups, same sex parents playgroups, playgroups for twins, specific language playgroups and special needs playgroups.

There are more than 500 playgroups operating in Western Australia, with more than 16,000 families stretching all the way from Kununurra in the north to Esperance in the south.

They are local and accessible
Playgroups can be held in many places, and each are run independently but typically they are held in community halls and spaces, schools, churches and libraries. Most have dedicated play areas as well as bathroom and kitchen facilities. Some groups have casual drop-in sessions, others have fixed time slots with organised activities.

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Lots of benefits for kids and parents
The benefits for kids are obvious: they find friends and have fun. They will begin to learn social skills such as sharing and taking turns. But since playgroup is really for children who are not yet at school, and therefore quite young, the majority of benefits will be for parents.

If you are lucky you will find a group of mums (and dads) who become lifelong friends but even if playgroup is just a brief phase on your parenting journey, it is still reassuring to see familiar faces each week, and to chat with someone who can sympathise when you are struggling over sleep issues or toilet training.

The Playgroup WA website also provides groups with an enormous range of ideas and programs such as the Transition to School program which individual playgroups can choose to use, as well as an impressive range of play ideas, easy to print and sorted for children of various ages.

Playgroup is cheap and full of value
Each individual playgroup will charge differently – some have a weekly fee that you pay only if you attend and it might cover coffee and biscuits, others charge an annual fee. These fees will cover a range of items depending on the type of group including rent, insurance, craft and food consumables and cleaning costs. It is not unreasonable to expect an annual fee of over $150.

Regardless, if you join a playgroup which is a member of the Playgroup WA, you will be charged a $30 per family annual fee which comes with a number of perks including access to the comprehensive Playgroup WA website, discounts and offers from a wide range of businesses in Perth, and access to special playgroup events such as the annual Fun Day.

You can join as many playgroups as you like, once you have become a Playgroup WA member.

It is easy to find a group that suits you
The Playgroup WA website has an easy to use tool to find local groups that suit your family. Start by entering your suburb, and if you have any special needs. Contact details of groups are usually provided, such as a phone number and email or website, plus extra information such as the exact location and sessions that are available. It is then simply a matter of contacting the group and arranging a time to attend a trial session.

Most groups offer up to three free trial sessions, so you can find out if the group is the right fit for you, before you make a commitment.

The benefits of playgroup are far-reaching, from regular supportive contact, to finding local families who will probably go on to the same school as you. Playgroups are flexible and fun, and are a great way of meeting other families.

Related article: Where to Meet Other Mums in Perth

Essential Information
Playgroup WA website: Playgroup WA

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