Principles for high quality playgroups: Examples from research and practice

Principles for high quality playgroups: Examples from research and practice

Joanne Commerford and Cathryn Hunter

CFCA Practitioner Resource— September 2017
A group of toddlers are playing together while their mothers talk in the background.

This resource is intended to provide information on a set of principles that capture the essential core components of a high-quality playgroup. It is intended to be a starting point from which policy makers and those planning, delivering and coordinating playgroups can further develop and tailor their playgroups based on the local needs of the families attending and the communities they live in.

The Playgroup Principles are part of a suite of playgroup resources which also include:

  • a Playgroup Evaluation Guide, which is intended to guide practice in the evaluation of playgroup;
  • program logics for supported and community playgroups, which provide a theory of change and outline the intended outcomes of playgroup; and
  • the playgroup outcomes measurement tools matrix, which is designed to assist playgroup professionals in using consistent, valid and reliable tools to measure outcomes.

Combined, this suite of resources is intended to assist in the development of high-quality and consistent community and supported playgroups, and further build and strengthen the evidence base for the effectiveness of playgroups in meeting outcomes for families and children.

These resources can be found on the CFCA Playgroups page.

The delivery of playgroups throughout Australia has been an integral part of the landscape of early childhood programs for many decades; however, despite the prominence of playgroups in the lives of many Australian families, there is no one established set of principles guiding the practice and delivery of high-quality playgroups nationally (Commerford & Robinson, 2016). This is in part due to differing guidelines and funding models across Australian states and territories, and varying models of implementation within and between organisations running playgroups.

The following set of fundamental playgroup principles have been developed to:

  • be a starting point for a more consistent understanding and discourse around playgroups;
  • to guide consistent, high quality practice; and,
  • to enable a consistent set of core outcomes to be identified that can be evaluated across jurisdictions, organisations and playgroup types, which in turn will build the evidence base for the effectiveness of playgroups.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Joanne Commerford is a Senior Research Officer with the Child Family Community Australia, Practice Evidence and Engagement team, and Cathryn Hunter is a Research Fellow and co-manager with the Child Family Community Australia, Practice Evidence and Engagement team.

The authors wish to acknowledge the valuable contributions of all those who participated in the development of the principles through the workshops, focus groups and online survey. The authors would also like to thank Playgroup Australia for their support, all those who provided feedback on the principles, and Elly Robinson, Executive Manager - Practice Evidence and Engagement at the Australian Institute of Family studies for her knowledge and guidance.

Featured image: © GettyImages/FatCamera

Publication details

CFCA Practitioner Resource
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, September 2017.
18 pp.

Publication meta

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