Play groups play an important role in the intellectual, interpersonal and physical development of children. These groups allow children to form bonds with one another, find ways to deal with stress and problem solving. There are usually songs sung in classes and storytelling sessions which aide children’s social skills and self confidence. Up until a couple of decades ago, playgroups were pretty unheard of. However with changing lifestyles of parents such as both parents having jobs and living in apartments without much interaction with neighbours, the opportunities for children to play with each other is minimal. This is where the need to have playgroups comes in. Playgroups can be broadly classified into two types â Parent run playgroups and those run by a preschool.
In the first kind, which is quite popular in the West, mothers of a locality usually get together and organize play dates. They monitor their children playing while socializing with the other mothers over a cup of coffee usually. The other type of play group is a more formally organized one. Here, children are exposed to a wide variety of fun activities such as sand play, water play, art and craft activities, singing rhymes and songs and interacting with other children their age.
The activity of sand play is particularly therapeutic. The texture of sand, its ability to be moulded into different shapes or to lend itself to make different patterns gives children an opportunity to de-stress and express themselves. Water play is fun and beneficial to children because being submerged in water mimics the conditions inside the mother’s womb. Water can be trickled, poured, sprayed or dripped on the children for them to have a fun sensory experience.
Education in child care centres in Singapore encompasses four years of children’s lives. These are the most important and impressionable years of a child’s life. The first stage of education is the play group and this sets the foundation for his/her academic progression and growth. Most child care centres in Singapore do not overburden children with regular education modules in the playgroup stage but use alternative approaches to teach children. It is more a chance for children to be exposed to learning while enjoying themselves.
Play groups also serve as testing grounds to gauge the temperament of a child and to try and amend things if a child shows signs of aggression or anti social behavior; so that these issues do not transcend into more grave problems as the child grows up.