The beauty of unstructured play took centre stage as children and their families celebrated National Playgroup Week at Morpeth on Tuesday.
There were jumping castles for a bit of bounce, free art and craft to bring out creativity, a reading corner to practice literacy skills, and a lot of stalls for parents to enjoy at Morpeth Common.
It resembled everything that playgroup is about – unstructured play that offers something for parents and children.
Playgroup NSW deputy CEO Karen van Woudenberg said playgroup gave children a chance to be in a public space with their parents and meet other children.
She said it provided a foundation for children to develop their social skills and form friendships with other children. Those friendships often lead to play dates and companions when they start kindergarten, she said.
But it’s not all about the kids. Parents also get a chance to play with their children in a social setting and have a chat with other parents over morning tea.
Morpeth Playgroup was chosen to host the event and was one of three regional events across the state.
The group’s willingness to promote itself and embrace diversity caught the attention of Playgroup NSW.
The state body asked the group to host the event and threw in some money to pay for the activities and keep the cost low for families.
Morpeth Playgroup’s immediate past president Kellie Tranter said parents were looking for opportunities where their children could play together and socialise.
“There is a demand for it in this area ...The children and the parents enjoy coming to playgroup,” she said. “Parents have a chance for two hours to talk to each other and take time out to play with their kids.”
“It’s a lifeline for new parents and it’s a safe and nurturing environment for the kids,” Morpeth Playgroup co-ordinator Anna Humphries added. “[The celebration] was an opportunity to make parents aware of some of the services that were available to them.”
Ms van Woudenberg said children enjoyed unstructured play and it gave them a chance to feel comfortable in a space with a parent nearby.
“They learn how to share the blocks and behave in the sand pit and they learn how to be in a public space,” she said.
“It’s a good way for them to learn what is appropriate for them at their age … “In the two hours they have outdoor play, indoor play, story time.
“It’s a great way for mums to connect with other mums and children often get to know the kids.”
Playgroup is run by volunteers. Thirty-six children attend Morpeth Playgroup each Tuesday at Morpeth School of Arts Hall from 10am until 12 noon.