A number of the state's playgroups are being revived following a challenging two years of lockdowns and restrictions, which saw face-to-face sessions cancelled.
This year is a vital time for playgroups to re-establish and reform in-person connection, which has been sorely missed, according to Playgroup Victoria.
Playgroup Victoria development consultant Louise Buckle-Smith, of Ballarat, said consultants were currently helping a number of Victorian playgroups to reopen after the COVID-19 impact.
"Regathering again, families have benefited from the social interaction, shared experiences and surrounding support," Ms Buckle-Smith said.
"For children, the play and engagement has benefited their development as they learn through play, sharing and building new skills."
Ms Buckle-Smith said for many families, 2022 had brought the opportunity to attend playgroup, having had babies at the height of the pandemic.
She said from a recent visit to a playgroup, she had seen families embracing face-to-face connections and supporting each other.
Since restrictions lifted, Ms Buckle-Smith and development consultant Maureen Hatcher - also of Ballarat - have met a number of playgroup leaders, including multicultural playgroups in Ballarat.
"This opened up a discussion and ways of supporting each other and potentially growing a support network again," Ms Buckle-Smith said.
"A large component of playgroup centres around people feeling a sense of belonging. The health and wellbeing of families and children is at the core of playgroup.
"Forming relationships, creating a social network, finding support services, having regular contact, meeting people who share interests in common - these are all crucial to our health and wellbeing."
While face-to-face playgroups are being held, Playgroup Victoria continues to conduct online sessions, live from Ballarat, to participants across Australia every two weeks.
In the first 18 months it was held, the online playgroup attracted more than 40,000 Australian families.
The free sessions often feature special guests and take families to educational places including Sovereign Hill, Sea Life Aquarium and Melbourne Museum.
The intergeneration playgroup that began during the pandemic at Mercy Place Ballarat continues to be held online.
Playgroup brings together multiple generations which is a real benefit to the whole community.- Louise Buckle-Smith
"Ages 0 to five is a vital period of development and learning. Through a variety of play experiences and positive family engagement, we create an abundance of learning opportunities."
Playgroup Victoria chief executive officer Danny Schwarz said some playgroups that had been going for a long time and stopped during the lockdowns and restrictions, had restarted.
"People are definitely wanting to go and do things face-to-face. There is no question that that's what they want," Mr Schwarz said.
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"There are some people who are feeling a little hesitant now about the fact that there is a lot of COVID around."
Mr Schwarz said Playgroup Victoria had everything playgroups needed to feel comfortable to get together safely during the third wave.
Next week, the online playgroup will visit Sovereign Hill. To register, visit https://www.playgroup.org.au/
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