Written by Heather Karrasch from the Baptist Union of Victoria, this is a must read before you begin your Playtime ministry!
This sample Playgroup Welcome Letter is courtesy of Caroline Smalley from Church in the Marketplace.
This sample Playgroup Registration Form is courtesy of Caringbah Baptist Church.
This sample of Playgroup Roster Duties is courtesy of Caroline Smalley from Church in the Marketplace.
Three outreach talks designed for parents are available on the Jesus Collective website. A group discussion by mothers in different stages of life is also available.
These great little tracts for Playtime parents are ready for you to print and give to parents.
These brochures are available for free if you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to PO Box 122 Epping NSW 1710. The text reads as below:
The little one that’s now joined your family has such potential to bring you both joy and pain. Your own childhood memories, good or bad, may still be quite fresh, and now you have been thrust into the responsibility of raising a child. Having a human wholly dependent on you for their life brings many challenges. Cuddles and smiles are fun, but broken sleep and endless crying can be a bitter reality.
It can also be a lonely season in your life in which many people you know are at work, and you only have your child to talk to. It’s not unusual to feel daunted, frustrated, or depressed. As your baby gets a little older you realise the routine (or lack of it) has well and truly set in. Just when you finish all those tasks that come with parenting and keeping the household in order, it’s time to start again. The monotony can be draining, but it’s all so worthwhile when your child crawls into your lap, wraps their little arms around your neck, whispering, “I love you”.
Having a child can cause you to start thinking about the big questions in life.
– Why am I here?
– What am I doing? Is this my purpose?
– Am I doing the right thing with my child?
– Can I hang in there?
You may not be able to answer these questions, but there is someone who can. It may be of comfort to know that someone loves your child more than you do. Even in the womb, God knew all about your child, their hopes and fears, joys and triumphs just as God knows you. So why don’t you take the opportunity to ‘taste and see that God is good’? A good place to start is by talking with God, who, like us, loves to be appreciated. Thank him for the gift of your own precious miracle; your child. But God is also generous. You can ask him for the love and wisdom you’ll need. He loves to give good gifts to his children.
Want to explore this further? Check out a local church, where people just like you have been asking the same questions and would love to help you in your journey with God. Jesus said, “I came to give life-life in all its fullness.” You can find this in the Bible in John 10:10.
Check out this fantastic article by Sally Smith in the Crossover Prac. It’s a great challenge and reminder to maximise the opportunities we have through Playtime, Kids’ Clubs, Holiday Programs and other family outreach opportunities.
This is a document written by the Victorian representative of Christian Playtimes back in 2004. It has some great information that is still relevant today, so check it out!
Gina Stepp discusses the wisdom of having a grandparent attending your Playtime, and the positive virtues that instills generativity.
Jodie is a Christian Counsellor, and this is a fabulous guide to ministering with our Playtime parents. A must read for all Playtime leaders!
At the 2014 Community Connections Conference, churches gathered to share stories and Playgroup ideas. Below is a summary from this discussion.
What is the purpose of your Playgroup?
- To serve the community
- To build relationships between Christians and non-Christian parents, grandparents and carers
- To provide a safe environment (physically and emotionally)
- Caring Christians (Christian songs, prayer at the end)
How do you share vision with the rest of your church?
- Talk to the church about showing love
- Pastor to share with the church
What church/leadership support do you have?
- Older people to talk to parents/carers
- Young people set up on Sunday after Sunday School
- Have set up and pack up teams separate to Playtime leaders
- Set up a craft team
- Invite a specific person to look after registration
- One person to organise birthday cards for children
- One person to organise birthday cards for parents/carers
What themes have worked?
- “It’s in the bag” theme
- “What’s in the box?” theme (great transition into singing/story time
- Zoo animals
- Farm animals
- Nursery rhymes
What works well in your Playgroup?
- Free play, music, playing outdoors
- Parents and children joining together with songs & stories with structure and routine. Routine is good so the children know what to expect.
- Variety of different crafts
- Using two areas gives a change of scenery.
- Good coffee and helpers to cut fruit
- While parents pack up they have tellytime
- Rosters for parent helpers
- Bible story
- Morning tea time, some groups bring their own.
- Predictable format
- A variety of toys each week
- Climbing equipment
- Kids bring their own lunch
- Name tags
- Photo wall
- Mr Frog, a stuffed toy comes out at singing time
What are some things you have tried with your Playgroup?
- Dinner night at the same playtime venue with takeaway and no children, with speaker
- Include Dads in an activity on a Saturday morning eg Jumping Castle and Sausage Sizzle
- When the women’s ministry supports Playtime, eg chocolate night
- Outings, especially a small zoo
- Having outside business come in, eg Reptile, petting zoo, face painting and ballooning
- Celebrating birthdays, sending out cards
- Visiting another Playgroup
- Playgroup logo stamp for each child at the end of each session
- End of term lunch/fun day
- Coffee and babycino (remember their order)
- Newcomers capping process where you limit the number attending which helps to build community
- Overcoming cliques—Change furniture around. Also put people in teams that they are unfamiliar with.
- Admin person to keep records from week to week
- Have a schooling talk when they are ready to go to school, then a talk about God
- Have church leaders that can communicate with new people
- Be friendly and loving
- Get the evangelists out there
- Do a video feature in church of what your playgroup is about. Interview your mothers about how they find playgroup
- Teach English with books
- Hold a craft night in the holidays to organise and cut craft for the whole term. Invite parents/carers from Playtime to come and help. Hold it as an event with pizza or dessert.
- Fragrant playdough. Make normal playdough recipe, but add essence such as strawberry, peppermint essence, or cocoa. You can also add rock salt and glitter for texture.
- Air dry clay (google bi-carb air dry clay recipe)
- Clothes and toy swap
- Free table
- Seminars twice a term (counsellor, school readiness, speech therapy)
- Facebook page: Positive parenting, communicate info, link to other pages. Make sure you set it up as a community page. Link through church website.
What frustrates you about Playgroup?
- How to create intimacy in a large venue
- How do we cope with meeting the needs of everyone when we are busy with jobs
- Story time with mixed aged group of kids, some have limited attention span
- Having kids of our own when packing up
- Lack of help
- Clickiness between mothers
- Volunteers not taking ownership
- Lack of helpers, support and commitment
- A lot of the mothers are not regular which makes planning difficult
- Not enough staff to operate weekly
- Not enough prayer support
- Not sure if all the team are on the same page for mission
- Getting enough church mothers to be involved
- Big groups can be a bit ‘cliquey’
- We have 4 groups and each are different by creating their own culture
How do you run your Playgroup?
- Donations range from $2-$5 per week, or $20-$50 per term. Some provide morning tea for children and parents/carers.
- Some cap at 25 families, others do not have a cap.
- Some have singing and story time in the middle of the program, others at the end.
What is something you have learned from doing Playgroup?
- This is an important place of building community and development of the child
- It’s an Important place of emotional support for parents
- All mums are in the same boat, so be sharing of your story which gives empowerment
- It can be an entire support and service for the whole family
- Parents are OK having God included, don’t be afraid!
- Connecting with mums, relationships built
- That God can use just simple things to achieve His purpose
- It’s hard work and tiring
- I’m energized by the Playtime ministry and fun!
- I’ve found my calling
- I’ve occasionally missed opportunities for evangelism
- The playgroup sometimes works as a small group for fringe church attenders
Is there any good story about life transformation that you would like to share?
- Yes! Being a good listener. Being genuine and obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to call and meet up outside of Playgroup, ie over a meal
- This can be an entry into other ministries into the church
- Not quite their yet, on the way!
- After doing “Connecting Families with Jesus” course our team have had many more God conversations and families have noticed the loving atmosphere
- How the whole family is permeated with the children’s enthusiasm from our interaction with them. Some mothers keep coming because of it and sometimes Dads and grandparents.