If you're a parent to a child under 5 there's a very good chance you've been proactive and already enrolled them in one or even several extracurricular activities. However, I'm hoping there are others like me, who are quite overwhelmed by the myriad of activities available to preschoolers in this day and age. It is for those fellow bewildered parents that I've set out to do some parental research on the subject.
My particular area of interest is community organised activities that don't cost parents an arm and a leg. The results I've come up with offer a few relatively unintimidating, community based options. I'm sure there are many more out there so hopefully this will inspire you to do your own research.
For now, here are 5 excellent community based activities for preschoolers:
Play Sessions at Tafe NSW TAFE NSW run these play sessions at various locations throughout NSW. It is a preschool type setting with age appropriate indoor and outdoor play. The sessions are held for the benefit of those studying Child Care to observe the various ages at play. Expect the kids to do all sorts of fun activities like painting and play doh (all the messy stuff you don't always want to do at your place.)
These playgroups are an excellent choice for children to get familiar with a preschool environment and socialise with their peers. There is a small fee involved but it's a lot cheaper than privately run activities. The sessions are popular and book out quickly so contact your local TAFE's early childhood department for more information. If your local TAFE doesn't run them, it's definitely worth hunting down another campus that does.
Library Rhyme time, Storytelling, and Tots and Toy time There's nothing like the local library for some good old fashioned (not to mention free) fun activities for little ones. From singing at rhyme time, to story time fun and free play sessions, you're sure to find a suitable activity for your little angel. These sessions are held during school terms and you can usually pick up a calendar of times at your local library. I must admit as a self-confessed bookworm from way back, this activity is one of my favourites. I can literally spend hours happily meandering about at my local library and never get bored.
YMCA Children's Activities If you've never contacted your local YMCA to find out what's on offer for little kids, then now's as good a time as any. They usually offer various developmental activities like gymnastics, aquatic education and playgroups. Some centres also offer art and crafts sessions or learn to play sports. They really are an excellent family oriented organisation who support local communities. Look up their website and call your local centre for more information.
Playgroup NSW Playgroup NSW is a very popular organisation offering playgroups for all ages from 0 to 5. The sessions are usually held at local church halls and you can try out a few different groups to find one that suits you and your child. For a small yearly membership you can join an age appropriate weekly playgroup in your area as well as enjoy some of the member privileges of Playgroup Australia. This is a great opportunity to get to know other parents in your area and maybe even form some lifelong friendships.
Salvation Army Mini Musos
Some local Salvation Army branches hold what they call "mini muso" sessions. This is a playgroup of songs and musical activity for parents and little ones to enjoy together. The cost is as little as $5, some very cheap fun to be had. Contact your local Salvation Army to find out where and when the sessions are held.
Hopefully I've inspired some of you to think outside the square when it comes to activities for your child. These are just a few of the excellent local community organised activities available to young children that will help nurture them at this crucial age in their development.