Rhythm helps to create a secure environment. We use songs, rhymes and actions to indicate we are approaching the next part of the day. Rhythm keeps the focus of the young child and the group in general.
All parents are encouraged to participate in the activities and eventually their child will follow. We try to create a balance between the social needs of the adults and the awareness of what is happening around the children.
What Happens in a Playgroup Session?
The sessions always follow the same rhythm, and all elements contribute to an environment of warmth and stability where the child is free to unfold and develop her imagination and a sense of wonder and interest in the world.
Our Tuesday playgroup for under-2s follows a slightly modified rhythm specially created to nourish very young children and their parents.
Upon arrival, we join together in the courtyard garden to collect and calm the children. This is a coming together to welcome each other, the whole group, the day and ourselves. The morning song prepares and settles the children before going inside for the story.
This is our first activity for the day, so we take our shoes off and enter the building quietly. Stories are told at playgroup, not read. This engages the child’s imagination allowing him to create his own individual pictures. The teller presents the story very simply and slowly, giving the child the freedom to enter the story themselves.
Circle for Songs
Our songs and rhythms are chosen carefully, usually verses relating to nature and our stories. We keep our voices and gestures simple to allow the child more freedom in their own perception.
We wash our hands and sit down together for dough kneading time. Children join with the adults to perform the household duty of baking bread. The children are delighted to be involved in this work in an artistic and soul-filled way.
Inside Free Play (Craft for Adults)
During this time the children have the freedom to play, totally self directed in a space that has been created just for them. This allows them to place their own perspectives on their play. Our children may need us to initiate a game and sometimes to participate to provide the model. For example a parent may see the potential game in a basket of blocks, and build a fence for the animals adding a blue cloth saying “where are the ducks to swim in the pond?” The parent may then leave the child to enter into his imaginative playtime.
Each session, during inside free-play, parents are encouraged to participate in a craft activity. Every few weeks our playgroup craft co-ordinator will organise something for the group to make – all materials and instructions are supplied. The intention behind the adults’ craft is to set the example for the children of quiet focused attention to our work. Over time, the children will follow the lead of the adults and turn their quiet focused attention to their play.
After free play we all tidy up the toys with the children while singing a cheerful packing away song. If this is done carefully by all the parents together, then it will be a fun time for the children. Children soon come to enjoy the activity of packing away while singing the special songs. (Once the song is learned, it helps with packing away at home too!)
The songs then lead us into morning tea in our courtyard (weather permitting) where we share organic sandwiches or crackers, fresh home-made lemonade made with honey, and fruit salad that has been prepared with care and love by the parent helpers.
Please advise us in advance of your attendance if your family has special dietary needs.
Outside Free Play (Tea and Conversation for Adults)
The children enjoy and explore the garden and our outside play cubby, while the parents watch on, enjoying their tea and conversation time together.
A song is sung by the play group leader to encourage the group to collectively pack away the outside toys in time for transition to the final activity. At the end of playgroup we will come together in a circle inside and sing some lullabies and our farewell song.
Receiving the Children’s Bread
Full of expectation and accomplishment the children patiently wait while each receives their bread to eat on the way home. Then quietly and with little fuss the families leave playgroup, headed for their “own sweet homes”, in anticipation of seeing their friends next week!