The benefits of play
Staff at a Massey East playgroup are taking their toys beyond the centre and into the park.
As part of a new initiative by the Manutewhau ECE Community Hub, the group is setting up play sessions in local parks to encourage families to participate and consider the importance of preschool education.
Lifewise project co-ordinator of the Waitakere ECE intensive community participation project Karen Clifford says the hub exists purely to connect families to early childhood education.
"Pop-up play in the parks is a community event," she says.
"We just park ourselves up and create play sessions."
Massey East has a particularly low level of children enrolled for pre-school education but Mrs Clifford says there are several reasons why this may be.
Language difficulties, cultural preferences and transport concerns are all contributing factors.
Lifewise is a social development agency whose work in West Auckland is centred around children and parents. This year will see two new early childhood centres being built in the area.
For families that do stay home, the hub can assist them to ensure they have access to information groups and toy libraries.
The playgroup has been open for eight months and offers a place for parents to relax, network with other parents and to learn about various community services.
Julianne Kainaamate, her partner Carl Burley and their four-month-old daughter Sapphire Kainaamate are new members at the hub.
"It's a time out for us and change of scenery and something for us to get involved with and meet other mums," Miss Kainaamate says.
Mrs Clifford says pre-school education gives children the opportunity to build relationships, learn to share and explore their world.
"It is valuable to have school play outside of the home.
"We are supporting them to be inquirers of the world and to be lifelong learners."
Manutewhau ECE Community Hub playgroup: Parents with children from newborn to five years old are welcome at the free playgroup sessions, held every Monday and Tuesday, with pop-up play in the park on Wednesdays.
Healthy snacks are provided. The playgroup is at 6 Moire Rd, Massey. Contact Karen Clifford on 832 5982 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information