You know about the benefits of play, socialisation and having a village when raising your little ones but maybe you don't have a playgroup or mums group near you? Or maybe you have a love of play you'd like to share with other families? Starting a playgroup can be an extremely rewarding venture and the bonus is you make friends along the way.


Getting starting can be daunting; here are some tips and things to consider if being a playgroup facilitator is for you:

1. Is there interest?
Ask on local community pages for expressions of interest to see if you'd have enough families to run your own playgroup. Be sure to ask what days and time work best for people.
2. Where will you hold your playgroup?
The venue location could be anywhere you deem safe and fit for families - community halls, parks, schools or even your own home. However it's important to remember that having amenities like toilets and running water will be beneficial to both you and families. You'll also want to think about the weather on both rainy or very hot days. Some venues will require payment and this will reflect the cost of your playgroup session.
3. Insurance!
Can't forget insurance as this will cover you and your families. Registering with your state's branch of Playgroup Australia will provide you with insurance cover as well as other benefits, but you can also look into your own insurance.
4. The Play!
Now for the fun bit... what focus is your session going to have? Whether it's sensory play, arts and crafts,a session aimed at babies or utilising toys for free play.This may reflect your playgroup's frequency, the cost for families and what you require to start (donations / equipment). This is a good time to remind you to be cautious about choking hazards, batteries and wary of whether sensory play is taste-safe if in reach of babies.
5. Donations and Grants.
Asking for donations of resources in your community and amongst friends or family can be a great way to gain what you need to start. This will depend largely on your style of session. Companies like Woolworths, Kmart and Bunnings can often donate products or monetary gift cards to registered playgroups. Grants are another wonderful way to get funding and will vary depending on your location - banks and local councils are good places to start looking (if you're part of a Playgroup Australia branch they can help you apply). 
6. Cost.
Playgroups are usually not-for-profit and generally only a small fee or gold coin donation. Play sessions run as a business can be a lot more, so it's important to make that distinction. Now you have an idea of your start up costs, insurance and venue you can work out how much you'd like your families to pay each session. Making sessions affordable will mean families can keep attending and you'll be creating a community. Fundraisers can be a fun way to gain extra funds. 
7. Community
Advertise in the community both online and with posters. A successful playgroup will see returning families who feel welcome and a part of a village (if they're happy word of mouth will see new families come along). It's important to ensure any conflicts are dealt with quickly and with consideration to all parties. Being greeted with a friendly face can change a person's morning and as a playgroup facilitator taking the time to get to know each family will be both rewarding and fun. I love to get involved and play with all the children which often gives their Mum (or Dad) a well deserved break to interact and socialise with other parents or carers.
8. Volunteers
As a playgroup volunteer you will need to have a Bluecard for working with children (again Playgroup Australia can help). Running a playgroup can be fun, rewarding and is easily something to feel passionate about but it can also be a lot for one person to manage alone. You may like to reach out to other parents from your playgroup families for help in setting up / tidying up, fundraising or even becoming a facilitator who can run their own sessions to share the load.
I hope this was helpful or an insight into what it takes to start a playgroup. It's been almost a year since I began a sensory playgroup in my small country community where our little ones don't have much else in the way of socialisation. To watch friendships blossom between parents and children has been the highlight. I now have a second facilitator to share the load and our sessions are still welcoming new families regularly. You can see some of our playgroups activities at @gumnuts.play_ on Instagram. 

This blog was written for Rudie Nudie Designs by Missie from @gumnuts.play_ - make sure you follow her on instagram for more play inspiration.
April 19, 2024

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