WHO PLAYGROUP IS FOR: Parents, grandparents or carers with children under school age
COORDINATOR: Nel Fulloon (0403 779 953)
WHEN: During School term, on Tuesdays 9.30 – 11.00 am, Wednesdays 9.30 – 11.30 am (Russian Language & Culture Playgroup), Thursdays 9.30 – 10.45 am (Mums and Bubs Circuit) and Fridays from 9.30 – 11.00 am
COST: $5 per playgroup session plus membership/insurance fee ($36 per year)
WHERE: The Gap Uniting Church (Bottom Hall)
HOW TO GET THERE: Parking is available, and a bus stop is located near the entrance to the church
WHAT TO BRING: Some morning tea to share. Tea/coffee is provided
Families attending the Playgroup become members of The Gap UC Playgroup to receive comprehensive insurance cover – this is an annual payment of $36. The Gap Uniting Church Playgroup is a ministry of The Gap Uniting Church and is an organisational member of Playgroup Queensland. More information can be found on the Playgroup Flyer 2018 or in the Playgroup Handbook 2018
For further information please contact The Gap Uniting Church Office.
BENEFITS OF PLAYGROUP
We have a large space perfect for boisterous playgroup activities. With easily cleaned floors, impact absorbing matting, a sandpit and a kitchen, sand, playdough, and other messy activities are easy to clean up after (and aren’t on your carpet at home!) Sharing morning tea together, with the opportunity to observe peer behaviour, often encourages fussy or fidgety eaters to try new foods or to sit longer.
Children can explore relationships, practise sharing and learn new social skills though participation in playgroup. Parents and carers also benefit from making new connections with others in similar life circumstances, and can give and receive support through parenting challenges. Volunteers from the church and community also attend, generally lending an extra hand where needed.
Activities at playgroup focus on having fun, exploring social interactions, and encouraging natural development through play. We offer a number of activities on a regular basis, that are developmentally beneficial:
Sand play is a great way to develop both gross and fine motor skills. Digging, lifting buckets filled with sand, pouring and sifting activities all practise large muscle skills. Eye-hand coordination and small muscle control improve as children learn to manipulate sand accessories. Experimenting with stories and pretend games stimulate creativity and imagination. Social skills are used in problem solving and playing side by side.
Playdough is wonderful for strengthening little hands in preparation for pencil and scissor control later on. Squishing, rolling, flattening – each aid fine motor development in a different way, not to mention the ongoing practice of hand-eye coordination and general concentration. While investigating and exploring through tactile play, children also have the opportunity to release stress through manipulating the dough.
Painting and drawing on blackboards has a wide range of developmental benefits. Shoulder and elbow stability are improved through the bigger arm movements required, and even the hand gets benefits from having to work against gravity. The wrist is naturally put into an extended position, which helps with hand stabilisation in writing later. Midline crossing (crossing a hand across the middle of the body to the other side) is practised, and can help children who are struggling to establish hand dominance. Hand-eye coordination is another skill practised in vertical drawing, as is spatial awareness, giving an opportunity to practise directional terms in relation to the child’s own body, such as up, down, left and right.
Water play is a wonderful sensory exploration activity. Even though children may have already investigated other substances such as dirt, rocks, sand, etc, these things take on a whole new life when mixed, dropped or sifted into water. Standing around a water tray helps with balance, standing and walking activities for little people. Because the space around the table is usually somewhat limited, children need to practise sharing space and toys, encouraging communication and working together through play. Children also get the opportunity to think about concepts like water displacement and volume as they explore in a body of water.
Arts and crafts encourage bilateral coordination and provide opportunities to practise fine motor skills. However, they can also give children opportunities to process their world and deal with big and overwhelming emotions in a safe way. Encouraging creativity in toddlers teaches flexibility (there’s no “right” or “wrong”) and allows them to feel in control of their project. Self-expression through art encourages identity and builds self-esteem.
Music is an integrated part of our culture and research has proven that musical experiences in childhood can actually accelerate brain development, particularly in the areas of language acquisition and reading skills. Music helps children learn the sounds and meanings of words, dancing to music helps children build motor skills while allowing them to practice self-expression, and even helps strengthen memory skills. Children experience a wide range of benefits from early childhood music
Dressing up and role playing gives children wonderful opportunities to experiment and use their imaginations. When role playing, children are encouraged to take turns, practise speech and language, and develop social skills. They have the opportunity to investigate different aspects of their personality and process big emotions in a safe way.
Reading to babies and toddlers has a strong link to later academic successes. Children are exposed to important pre-reading concepts, such as left to right text and the difference between text and images on the page. Even children who are too young to understand the storyline, are listening to language, and learning the basic sounds that make up speech. As they get older, listening to stories can help them relate the book characters’ difficulties, to challenges in their own lives, helping to understand and process challenging situations, normalising big feelings such as anxiety, and alleviate stress.