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Pathways to Early Education


As part of NSW Government’s Start Strong Pathways initiative, Playgroup NSW was awarded $1.754 million over 18 months from the NSW Department of Education to deliver “Play Strong” supported playgroups across the state. These playgroups provide early learning pathways for vulnerable communities, and promote the importance of early childhood education. These playgroups promote the value of play-based learning that supports brain development and skills for babies and young children.

Why is attending playgroup a good way to prepare for preschool? 

At playgroup, parents and carers spend time with their children in a social setting to connect and learn through play. Play is vital for emotional, intellectual and physical development. Through play, children develop important learning and life skills, such as exploring, identifying, negotiating, and risk-taking, all of which help to prepare them for early education and the challenges that can come with that transition.

Research shows that playgroup is universally beneficial to all children from a range of different backgrounds, however currently, only 36% of children attend playgroup prior to commencing formal education.

Other ways to prepare for pre-school/early learning:

  • Visit the preschool. Visit your child's classroom and meet the educators a few days ahead of time.

  • Read books. Spend time reading books about preschool, such as "Maisy Goes to Preschool" by Lucy Cousins, "Llama Llama Misses Mama" by Anna Dewdney, "Little School" by Beth Norling, or "The Kissing Hand" by Audrey Penn.

  • Act it out. Role play games can be really useful here, and toddlers love them. Pretend that you're going to school, hanging up your backpack, and sitting down for group time. Play games, read stories, and make a simple snack. Use puppets to role play if your child isn’t interesting in acting things out.

  • Express and acknowledge feelings. Beginning preschool is an exciting adventure, but it's normal for both of you to have feelings of anxiety. Allow your child to express those feelings. Listen closely and acknowledge your child's fears.

How to choose a pre-school/early learning facility.

  • Word of mouth - ask your friends, neighbours (and fellow playgroup attendees!) about preschools in your area and the experiences their children have had at them.

  • Make arrangements to visit a few different early learning centres before making a decision. Take your child with you to see how they fit into the environment.

  • Factor distance/transportation issues into your decision. A child who has to spend an hour in the car or on a bus to get to preschool, might arrive too tired or unsettled to learn. Or, your child might relish the extra one-on-one time in the car with mum or dad!

  • Look for educators who show a love of children and a dedication to their wellbeing. You should take note of how they interact with the children. Look for educators who gently guide and instruct them, answer their questions and foster their self-confidence.

  • Observe the size of the classes and the educator-child ratio. Do you believe your child’s needs will be met by this equation?

Play Strong Partners

If you would you like to be involved, please contact Noni on 0418 885 743 or npapalia@playgroupnsw.org.au

We’ve partnered with the following organisations to help deliver the Play Strong Program:




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