Our researchers were engaged by Playgroup Australia to undertake a comprehensive quantitative and qualitative evaluation of Community Playgroups across Australia in order to examine the role of playgroup in the lives of Australian families, and how this might impact on a child’s early development.
They discovered that:
- Children who attend playgroups during early childhood have significantly better child development when they start school. The benefits of playgroup are seen across all domains of child development: physical, social, emotional, language and cognitive development, and communication.
- Those who do not attend playgroups are 1.78 times more likely to be developmentally vulnerable on one or more domains of the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) at school entry, after adjusting for socio-economic and demographic differences.
Identified issues that need to be addressed included:
- Boys, Indigenous children and children with a language background other than English are less likely to attend playgroups.
- Attendance increases incrementally for children living in less socio-economically disadvantaged communities - from 26% in the most disadvantaged communities to 44% in the least disadvantaged communities.
Our researchers have now replicated this research using the more recent 2015 AEDC data and confirmed that the same patterns of improved child development for children who attend playgroups also exist in a more recent cohort of children.