ECHUCA-MOAMA parents are experiencing the positive benefits of playgroups just as much as their children.
A new study has found playgroups offer a positive social experience for parents, help them make new friends and allow them to learn more about caring for their kids.
Researchers from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, who examined existing research on playgroups from 2000 to 2015, also found children become more actively involved in play and confidence the more they attend.
Echuca’s Tegan Bellingham joined the Crossenvale Community House playgroup two years ago after her first son Edison was born.
Moving here from Melbourne not long before that, she didn’t know many people in town so playgroup provided a social outlet.
‘‘It took me a long time to come but when I did, this one girl started talking to me and now we’re best friends,’’ she said.
Tegan now has another son, Arlo, who is seven months old, and she said both boys loved it.
‘‘The kids get to meet other kids and play with them,’’ she said.
‘‘It’s also gives me some adult social interaction as I can talk to other mums and ask them questions and I also talk to (Crossenvale Community House co-ordinator) Sheridan Clark about any issues or problems I’m having.
‘‘It also gets me out of the house.’’
Sheridan said the social experience was particularly beneficial for young mums who didn’t have an outlet and may feel judged.
‘‘They get to meet other young mums and talk about things they have in common and issues they may have with the kids,’’ she said.
‘‘It also helps to get kids ready for pre-school and school.’’
Of the 1780 active playgroups registered with Playgroup Victoria, about 10 operate across Campaspe Shire.
Campaspe Shire community care manager Janelle Wheatley said playgroups provided an opportunity for parents and families to come together to share experiences and activities with their children that supported their learning and development through informal play and social interaction.
‘‘There are many benefits of a playgroup including children learning to share, to get along with others, making friends and having fun – all the while supporting the child’s brain development,’’ she said.
‘‘For the parent or carer, the benefits include sharing of ideas, experiences and worries and making new friends.’’
To find a playgroup, go to www.playgroup.org.au/FindaPlaygroup.aspx