Benefits of playgroups in children and it’s impact on later years

Let Your Child join Playgroups 

Recently I came across this very interesting quote by a Play Specialist, O. Fred Donaldson and found a lot of truth in his saying. The quote: Children learn as they play. More importantly, through play, children learn how to learn. Playing is not just about having fun, but through that process, you are allowing your child to develop socio-emotional skills in later years. This can help them discover how to connect to others and gain compassion through interaction with other children earlier in life. They will be able to connect with people with different personalities later in adulthood

What is a playgroup? 

A playgroup is represented by having children of similar age gathering with their parents or caregivers. This could mean meeting at the nearby park or at someone’s home on a regular basis

Valuable Benefits of Playgroups 

Let me share 4 benefits of being involved in a playgroup for your child and yourself as a parent:

1) Social Skills are Developed

Being in a playgroup setting allows our children to develop social skills in their own time. When children are in a group set-up, they learn how to interact with other in a manner which is socially acceptable in a safe and familiar lay out. Human beings are made to be social creatures and we thrive through learning from their environment. Your child will lag and lack heavily behind if he or she is isolated all the time. This will exacerbate into a narrow-minded mindset and affect classroom behaviour once they enter school. Entering a new school at Primary One is already emotionally, socially and physically challenging for them, imagine not having prior exposure to making new friends. It comes to almost being impossible for a child to feel comfortable and confidence in a new and foreign situation

2) Playgroups help Expand Vocabulary 

Playgroups also allow a child to learn or reinforce new vocabulary that their friends may have learnt while your child has not. Learning how to communicate with others serves an opportunity for children to understand more words through what they articulate while listening to others. By verbalising thoughts, the child would learn how to convey the essence of their message through proper sentence structure to ensure that the other party comprehends him or her. The ability to retain vocabulary in their developmental stages is much more rapid. Children remain attentive in adult-like conversations or engaging in peer communication in future

3) Higher Emotional Intelligence 

Scientifically proven, your child think faster than when words are spoken. Thus, this challenges them to think critically before speaking. “Will this hurt someone’s feelings if I say this?” or, “Will this make sense?” This helps them grow to be more sensitive and considerate towards others. 

4) Enjoy the Power of Friendship

Maintaining these friendships in playgroups can help with cognitive and physical well-being. Children will have an increased sense of belonging and thus reduced anxiety and stress when interacting with others. Professor in Psychology Paul Schwartz and a child behaviour expert shares the value of keeping an open-mind while being attentive to other’s stance and displaying age-appropriate behaviours. Children need to feel secure and safe when mingling with their friends as this steers them towards having higher self-esteem. Also, this helps in managing stress and transitions in later years. Friends can encourage good behaviours. More than half of the children who exhibit emotional behaviour issues have high association with having no friends or face struggles interacting with peers. As a result, they are more victimised by peers.  

5) Parents form Support Groups

Bonus point! For all the parents and caregiver out there, you do not have to feel like you are in the journey or parenthood alone. Playgroups serve as an opportunity for you and other parents to share deeply while handling your children and gain insights on similar or potential struggles while raising a child. By tapping on solid support network through social media platform such as Facebook pages, it can boost psychological and emotional needs for the caregivers. For example, if your child has Attention-deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) or Autism, talking to a parent who has a child of the same special needs can really provide the proper resources and experiences in learning how to manage a meltdown. Concurrently, management techniques can be picked up on after understanding the child’s needs.

Here are my thoughts: 

Indeed, it takes a village to raise a child. There are numerous benefits of placing your child in a playgroup. This offers the child an opportunity to flourish psychologically, socially and emotionally by starting at a young age. This can alleviate the stress and anxiety a child may face when advancing into new academic years. It takes time to take your child out and it can be inconvenient. But the rewards are well worth it.

Teacher Serena Ng is a graduate of psychology with a first class honours degree. She is currently hoping to pursue her Masters in Occupational Therapy. She shares her passion for teaching and voices her opinions on how important it is for females to light up the world of education for generations to come.

- Carean Oh

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