Online playgroup sessions are supporting families to continue to play, nurture a sense of wellbeing and stay connected in lockdowns.
Playgroup Victoria has been bringing playgroup to families' homes via video conferencing service Zoom since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
With Ballarat currently in lockdown, regional and rural families are being encouraged to join the fun and uplifting playgroup sessions currently running online.
Ballarat's Louise Buckle-Smith and Maureen Hatcher facilitate some of the sessions, which are full of interactive songs, stories and activities, and they want Ballarat families to join them.
Ms Buckle-Smith said more than 100 Victorian adults and children joined the sessions when they first started, but this had grown to more than 200 participants.
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"People need people. People, families and children, need that social connection. I think this has created a real playground community," Ms Buckle-Smith said.
"That connection is so crucial and it's part of the child's development."
Because it's difficult for people to get out of their houses during lockdowns, the playgroup sessions have been based around the household.
Ms Buckle-Smith said children were sometimes asked to use natural materials around their homes in the sessions.
She said sessions included art, cooking, storytelling, singing, dancing and getting messy hands.
"We also try for routine so they know what's coming and familiar faces, so really building that relationship," Ms Buckle-Smith said.
She said her experience facilitating the sessions had been incredible and "it was probably the most amazing thing I have done".
Playgroup Victorian project co-ordinator Nancylee Merzel said the sessions were unique because of their live and interactive nature.
"We are doing the activity together, sharing stories and singing together. It's so much fun and there is nothing quite like it," Ms Merzel said.
The playgroup sessions will not be held in the school holidays. The next session will be held on September 22 featuring children's music group Lah Lah and Buzz.
A nature bingo session to inspire families to have daily contact with nature and stay connected with one another will be held on September 27.
To book, go to: https://bookings.playgroup.org.au/.
Playgroup Victoria has a Ballarat-based team which is the only team outside Melbourne.
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