Volcano eruptions, pony rides and a special Mother’s Day morning tea are all part of the fun at Grasshoppers Playgroup. The family group in Melbourne’s south-west has been flourishing in recent years. It has become a meaningful place for many families.  

“I attend Grasshoppers playgroup and we love it,” said parent Abhilasha Aggarwal.

“It has become like a family to us, we have made some lasting friends who help each other, not just physically but emotionally also.”

Abhilasha praises the playgroup for giving her the support she was in need of when raising her young children. 

“As a stay at home mum, the main conversations I had were with my two children. I craved adult conversation, some time to relax and wind down. That is what pulled me to Grasshoppers as I really liked the people attending and I hit it off instantly with some.” 

“Playgroup has been my resource centre in the sense that we discuss parenting issues, give each other suggestions and ideas, share experiences and provide references for good schools, doctors and paediatricians.”

The playgroup located in Wyndham Vale has been a sanctuary for many parents and their children. Grasshoppers has created a positive environment for early years learning, managing a wonderful balance between socialisation, education and fun.

Grasshoppers President Fiona Hetrich became involved with Grasshoppers in 2015 when her child was two years of age. She said that she could see the potential in the playgroup.

“I wanted to transform the playgroup experience into something extra special for both my children and other members of my community.”

Fiona and Abhilasha both agree that their playgroup gives them a sense of belonging.

The smiles, happy people and strong friendships are a rewarding part of the playgroup experience.

Abhilasha said that she can see that there are many benefits for the children.

“They not only develop and increase their social skills, they also learn all about sharing, cooperation and the simple routines of snack time, washing hands before snacks, music and rhyme time.”

“The children get to partake in new experiences, learn new skills and develop language and communication. They also enjoy learning more about the world around them in a safe and secure environment.”

This in part is due to Grasshoppers belief in the Early Years Learning Framework's (EYLF). The framework adheres to principles of being, belonging and becoming.

“We plan activities and events on the basis that ‘a child’s development and learning takes place as they begin to explore, develop interests, create their own identity and make meaning to the world around them’," said Fiona.

“We continually strive for new, interesting and educational incursions for our children, along with crafts and other learning activities. We try to make the playgroup experience as fun and memorable as possible.”

Even years ago when Grasshoppers were not as organised, Abhilasha said it was still a very fun place to go to. This sentiment carries through.

“I would encourage any parent to take their children to playgroup as it has benefits, not only for the child but also for the parents.”

“In the crazy world of parenting, playgroup acts as a strong place to get your sanity back. I am just joking! But yes, parenting can get overwhelming sometimes and knowing there are people like you, helps a lot and provides strength.”

“Sometimes in the rush of life, parents forget to sit back and enjoy their children, play and interact with them. Playgroup provides just that.” 

Grasshoppers have managed to incorporate the whole family and greater community to the benefit of all. The children have made gifts for their Dad’s, crafts to share and they celebrate Seniors Week, including their grandparents and older people in the community. The full circle approach is overarching, reaching out to the many strands that form the tree of life.

There are developmental advantages given to the children at playgroup.

Fiona recognises that playgroup is also greatly beneficial for those children who have difficult home situations.

“It provides them with the resources to play and learn in a safe, interactive and friendly environment.”

At the heart of the matter, is happiness. Playgroup is here to connect friends and family, while learning along the way. Grasshoppers have proudly gone above and beyond in their quest to make their playgroup the best that it can possibly be. We congratulate them on all of their hard work and community spirit.

Article by Sinead Halliday