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Community Playgroups Deliver on Early Development – Research


17 March 2016 at 10:44 am
Lina Caneva
Australian children who attend community playgroups are less likely to have developmental vulnerabilities when they start primary school, according to new research.

Lina Caneva | 17 March 2016 at 10:44 am


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Community Playgroups Deliver on Early Development – Research
17 March 2016 at 10:44 am

Australian children who attend community playgroups are less likely to have developmental vulnerabilities when they start primary school, according to new research.

The Not for Profit research from the Telethon Kids Institute showed that, overall, one in three Australian children attend playgroup before they start school and even in the most disadvantaged communities, one in four children attend playgroups prior to school.

Report said that the results demonstrated that children who attend playgroups during early childhood have significantly better child development when they start school, and that while a
considerable number of children across Australia are attending playgroup, there are opportunities to increase the reach of playgroups to extend these benefits to more children.

Here’s a snapshot of the key findings:

Nationally, 36 per cent of children attend playgroups prior to starting school. Depending on the jurisdiction, between 30 per cent and 66 per cent of children attend some form of playgroup prior to school.

Playgroup attendance is higher for children living in more regional and remote areas of Australia than for children living in the major cities.

Playgroup attendance increases incrementally for children living in less socio-economically disadvantaged communities from 26 per cent in the most disadvantaged communities to 44 per cent in the least disadvantaged communities.

Boys, indigenous children and children with a language background other than English are less likely to attend playgroups.

Playgroups have a wide reach impacting about 20 per cent of disadvantaged children and close to 40 per cent of less disadvantaged Australian children.

Karen Bevan, CEO of Playgroup NSW, said in NSW over 20,000 children attend playgroups, across 70 per cent of postcodes.

“According to the research, 27.7 per cent of children living in NSW attend some form of playgroup. Of those, 16.1 per cent were born in another country and 14.2 per cent have a background other than English,” Bevan said.

“The benefits of playgroup are seen for all domains of child development: physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive development and communication. They also benefit parents who need support networks and advice.

“We know that children learn through play. This research shows just how important playgroup can be in facilitating children’s development.”

She said playgroups are also important as support networks for parents, where they can share parenting skills and tips in an informal environment without intimidation.

“This is especially true for parents who are new to an area, or indeed to the country, or who have children with disabilities. Involvement in a playgroup often provides the first link to a community and the network of friends and support that people need to truly become part of that community,” Bevan said.

“We know that families really value the community aspect. Often it is difficult for new parents to settle into parenting and over 81 per cent of our attendees say their social support network increases as friendships with parents and other carers develop. While 95.5 per cent say that they would recommend playgroup to others.”

The research had been launched as part of National Playgroup Week which starts on 20 March 2016.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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