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Playgroups support and offer valuable opportunities for parents to meet and share their experiences and for children to play and socialise. They are coordinated by qualified community workers who give parenting tips and advice and provide information about other community services for families. Expert guest speakers are invited to talk about topics related to parenting or childhood development. Parents are encouraged to become involved in planning and running playgroup activities. Playgroups provide a range of learning experiences to stimulate children’s intellectual growth.
They learn about interactions with other children and can develop their communication skills. The community workers can help parents with behaviour-management techniques, provide information for parents about topics such as child development, health, hygiene and child safety. They can also help with developing social networks for parents, and identify developmental problems and refer families to relevant services. BENEFITS FOR FAMILIES Supported playgroups bring a number of benefits to the communities in which they operate and to the people who take part.
These benefits areThis is a service that lends toys, games, puzzles and educational aids to families. The items from the toy libraries must be returned at a certain time. At some toy libraries, children are allowed to attend the library to play with the toys there. Leisure library – this provides play materials for adults, especially for disabled adults and families from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have not known the joy of play. Teenagers can also benefit form these libraries, as there is challenging activities that could positively counteract effects of boredom, such as drugs and alcohol abuse.
The libraries for children, the toys/resources that are lent, can help children to develop physically, mentally, socially and emotionally. They can learn through play by imitating, exploring, creating, solving problems and sharing with others, (brothers/sisters). Toy libraries promote ACTIVE LEARNING. The libraries also help low-income families who are not able to provide their children with adequate learning opportunities. The parents may not be able to send their child to any form of pre-school centres. Specialist toys and equipment, which can be very expensive to buy, can be available for children who have special needs.
Many toys which can be bought at home, end up lying about the house, with the toy library, 1 toy is exchanged for another. Other benefits for having a toy library is that it can help parents learn about and are empowered to provide suitable stimulation for their child. Some may say that parents don’t want to get involved, but the fact is that the parent doesn’t know what to do or how to do it. The toy library could help the children and parents to play together, to share the activities, this would help to strengthen the family unit.
Children who are ‘at risk’ can receive preventive stimulation, the toys at the library may be graded, this can help the child make steady progress on their development. The child’s self confidence may increase with each toy, when they master the activity. Therapists report that children receiving therapy and also belong to a toy library, generally improve faster with their development and social well-being. There can be additional services that can be offered by toy libraries, these are names of childminders, schools in the area.
Leaflets giving information about organisations, nutrition and different workshops, that are available in the local area. Homestart This is a charity organisation, in which parent volunteers help families and children through rough patches in their lives. Volunteers help all types of parents, mums struggling with post-natal depression, young couples who don’t have any idea of what to do during their babies early years, professional women having difficulty coping with the switch from the structured work environment, to home life and late parenthood.
The volunteers provide non-judgement support to allow the people to build on their own strengths. Homestart volunteers set out to end the isolation that parents with young children experience. It offers friendship, practical help and support. They are trained how to talk, encourage, when necessary to guide mums and dads. The parent volunteers create an atmosphere in which families can cope with the pressures they are facing, this can then reduce the potential, for family breakdown.
The volunteers can also help families get their act together sufficiently so they no longer need the supervision of statutory social services. E. g. in 2003/4, 822 children whose families were supported by Homestart were removed form the child protection register. The volunteers work alongside parents, not telling them how to bring up their children, but may offer advice if asked. Sure start children’s centres These centres are in the most disadvantaged areas. The services they provide are:-
Good quality early learning, combined with full day care provision for children, this could be effective for both child and parents. The child would make friends, learn and develop their skills and their developmental stage. The parents may be able to go out and find work. There are effective links with Jobcentre Plus for training or employment. Their would be support and services to parents and children who may need different services. I. e. special needs.
The workers there, give information and advice to parents on a range of subjects, I. e. childcare, looking after babies and young children, education services for 3 and 4 year olds. They have drop in sessions and other activities for children and parents, this can help parents socialise with other parents, make friends, look at other children and see other children playing, parents playing with their children and learning them to do the same. It can stop parents form being isolated in their home, getting them out and active, letting them discover new activities, learning about themselves and others around them, discovering new hobbies.