What ages does the playgroup cater for?
Our Little Playgroup is for children younger than two years of age. We don’t have a minimum age guide for the Little Playgroup. Even young babies enjoy the songs and being surrounded by toddlers, and their parents/carers enjoy the social aspect, and having a cup of tea made for them. However, a child will not actively engage with the group until about 12 months of age, which is an ideal time to begin attending Little Playgroup.
Children who will be turning 2 within the upcoming term (so, from about 22 months of age) will usually be ready to join the over-2s groups. The over-2s playgroups best serve children for the years that they are 2 and 3. Generally a child who has already turned 4 will be a little too old to join the playgroup for the first time, and a 4-year-old who has been attending the playgroup for some time is likely to be ready to move on to another activity by this age as well.
What about special dietary requirements?
All the food offered by playgroup is vegan (with the exception of honey) and organic or biodynamic.
We have worked with many families who maintain a gluten-free diet, and have developed several suggestions as to how a child who avoids gluten can participate in our weekly bread baking activity. Please contact us for further information.
How can I encourage my child to join in?
In playgroup we really encourage parents to “show” rather than “tell”, because young children learn best through imitation and example. We can show children good manners that they can follow by modelling those manners ourselves; we can show how to pack up toys in a joyful and fun way, or how to sing and join in by doing it ourselves. It is extraordinary to see a child coming out of her shell when the parent stops worrying that his child is not participating, but rather leads the child to join in by doing it themselves – the innately curious child will soon become a part of the fun!
Sometimes a child of 2 won’t yet have developed the skills to enter into his or her play without a little assistance. In this case, it is best for the parent to simply make an enticing suggestion to direct the child’s interest—“Where shall the truck take this load of blocks?” or “I wonder if the dolly is ready for her nap now?” Accompany the child just enough to get them started, and then quietly withdraw and leave the child’s play to unfold independent of further direction.
Why is there so much singing at playgroup?
A Steiner Playgroup uses songs to transition from one activity to another. This can appear strange to the newcomer, and confronting when asked to join in! However, these songs are a very effective way for the children to gently wind down from one activity and prepare for the next. Transition from one activity to another, which can so often be a battle, becomes a game. Again, the children will join in if we adults show them how!
I have never stitched anything in my life. Do I have to do the craft projects?
Though there is much lively play that occurs at playgroup, especially outside, we can also value focus and stillness. This relates back to the concept of rhythm, and the immense value for children to have times of stillness and quiet focused play to balance more energetic play. We have found the best way to encourage quiet, focused play is for the parents to become focused themselves in a quiet activity. We offer craft activities for the parents to do during indoor play and encourage parents to avoid animated conversations or socializing during this time. (There is plenty of time for this very necessary part of playgroup, during and after morning tea.)
We also like to offer parents who may never have had the opportunity to craft something themselves the opportunity to learn these traditional skills. We endeavour to choose simple but inspiring projects and provide full instructions. The playgroup leaders are always happy to give a few pointers or offer encouragement when needed. The resulting projects often become treasured toys or keepsakes for playgroup families, and the children themselves never criticize a parent’s stitching–they adore the fact that something has been made just for them!
If all of this hasn’t fired you up to attempt some crafting, please rest assured that you are welcome to engage yourself in any quiet, focused activity during inside play—perhaps helping to sweep the floor after bread baking, or to chop the fruit for morning tea—or even to sit quietly and take some time to observe your child at play.