Playgroup bringing little kids closer to Mum
Our Playgroup program, Stay Together, Play Together, plays a vital role in keeping mums connected with their kids and improving outcomes and well-being for young children.
SHINE for Kids staff member Summa runs four of our regular playgroups in Queensland, at Helena Jones, Numbinah, Brisbane Women’s and Southern Queensland.
This is what she said about how special they are and her experiences with the kids and mums:
“At Helena Jones, we have created a lovely child-friendly space inside the centre for playgroups, with small tables and chairs and activities for the mums to do with their kids.
Together we sing songs and rhymes and the mums have even taught me a few songs I’ve taken to the other centres!
Numinbah is a farm centre where mums live with their young children.
Because of this, they are happy to spend the time talking about parenting and bonding with the other mums while our team engages the young children in play and learning games to increase their outcomes and provide some new stimulation.
The kids here LOVE playgroup and ask every day if it’s a playgroup day!
At Southern Queensland Correctional Centre and Brisbane Women’s, it’s the opposite of Numinbah as the mums want to make the most of this special bonding time with their kids.
They don’t get to live with them, so I’m very aware that I need to facilitate their play together but give them space.
I listen and step in to help when needed. We provide many activities and fun things for the children to do with their mums!
Because the mums here are not allowed to take drawings back to their rooms, we have created folders to store the craft and keepsakes they make together for when they are released.
These mums are missing out on so many important moments and milestones with their kids, so a folder to remember their times together is very valuable to them.
One of the crafts I’ve done is create baby footprints in clay, something that mums on the outside might do with their babies but that these mums don’t get the chance to do.
We also make a big deal of every event on the calendar! Easter, Christmas, holidays, any reason to celebrate!
We’ve had Easter Eggs hunts, Mother’s Day events, and at Christmas, Santa visits, and the mums get to give presents to their kids.
It’s so important for the kids to feel like they are still getting to be part of these times of celebration with their families.
We can sometimes take photos of the kids with their mums and Santa so that they’ll have these memories forever.
Playgroup is an excellent opportunity for the mums to learn more about their kids!
During one playgroup, a little boy kept lying on the floor pretending to be asleep whenever a particular song was sung.
The mum saw how much he loved it and that he knew all the words from daycare, so she asked to learn it too to sing it with him.
Mums love learning new rhymes, songs and ways to interact with their kids!
One group of mums at Numinbah enthusiastically joined in a song about a bunny hopping so that all the kids and mums were laughing and hopping about together, it was beautiful to see, and I know that I’m helping them to bond.
The significance of playgroup goes beyond supporting connection and play as well.
It’s also a chance to talk to mums about their child’s needs and early education, listen to their concerns and discuss options for work and housing when they are released.
One case where this happened was a mum whose little boy returned to her care at almost three years old. She soon noticed his speech was delayed compared to other children his age and spoke to me about her concerns.
I found information from Speech Pathology Australia about speech milestones and development to help guide her and seek support and speech therapy.
She’s so proud of him now, his speech is becoming clearer every day, and a little time adjusting to being together again, she’s learning more about her son and how to engage him in activities he enjoys, like puzzles!
It feels lovely to be part of helping repair these special relationships and get them back connected.
After tough times you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
Thank you to the Department of Children, Youth Justice and Multicultural Affairs for supporting Stay Together, Play Together.
Please donate today and support learning through play!