We have everything crossed that by the time this article is published, we will be up and running again.
As you can imagine, we are keen to return to normal as soon as possible. But history tells us that going back to “normal” is a huge adjustment for babies and toddlers. Playgroups can be overwhelming especially if you have been in lockdown. Our Playgroups are a great way to slowly introduce your child to a social situation in a safe environment with you, as their carer, being available. When we returned after the last lockdown, we found that many of the children found being in a social situation quite stressful having spent weeks on end at home with no interaction with other babies / children. We were able to cater our sessions to ensure that the process of attending these groups eased them in slowly to social interaction again.
Time to play leisurely alongside one another, some sensory play, story time and song time, which always proves to be a firm favourite. All of these activities are of course optional and time spent sitting on their carers laps whilst soaking it all in also helped. By the end of term we found that all of the children were happy to socialise with their peers again and playgroup was a very positive experience. When we return, we will once again ensure that we provide the same environment to ensure that the children have another happy experience with us.
What we offer!
Before March 2020 we were operating four groups per week these were…..
Mondays – Monday playgroup has always been a firm favourite. On arrival at The Children’s Centre in Mid Harbour the children are read a story which is a great way to start the week. After some free play we offer a craft which is normally themed with the book we are reading. We then provide a healthy snack and song time! The children leave happy which in turn makes us happy! *This session takes place from 10.00am – 11.30am.
Wednesdays – Wednesdays at PACS are a little bit quieter. From 9.30am until the last baby leaves we take a corner of The Living Room Cafe at The Methodist Church and run Bumps & Babies. This group is aimed at new and expectant mothers to give them an opportunity to meet other mothers in a safe environment whilst their baby happily plays. Our volunteers are mothers themselves and are on hand to offer an ear / support whenever it’s needed. Once allowed, we will also be offering sessions where local health providers, such as health visitors, will come in and talk to the mum’s and offer help and advice where needed.
Fridays – Fridays have always been our busiest day of the week. From 9.45 – 11.45am we offer a playgroup session. Upon arrival the children are able to play to their hearts content. We’ve found that the children and carers prefer a less structured session on a Friday. Half way through the session we offer the children a chance to participate in some sensory play. These vary from activities such as a “jelly flood” or a chance to plant some flowers in some mud…which usually means chocolate cheerios! We then offer a healthy snack before finishing with song time. Tired but happy the children head home unless they plan to attend our next session of the day…
From 12.30 on a Friday we offer the very popular Cooking Club. During this session the children, with help from their carers, are taught to cook something which they can eventually take home. We try to ensure that what we cook is always healthy…but of course we make sure that some weeks it includes chocolate! Once the Cooking is finished, the children have some time to play before some much loved games such as “What’s the Time Mr Wolf”. This session is aimed at slightly older children, many of whom will have been at pre school / school before they come. It’s always a great way to end the week!
In the autumn term in 2020 we continued to offer two smaller Playgroup sessions back to back on a Friday and Bumps & Babies all of which complied with the Covid regulations.
With Gibraltar on track to start reopening soon, we hope that PACS will be able to follow suit. Despite being in lockdown, we have continued to work behind the scenes creating new ideas for our sessions and coming with ideas for some new sessions. We hope to be back bigger and better sometime soon. Watch this space!
*Please note that all of our sessions are run purely by volunteers. Apart from Cooking Club which costs £2.50 per session we only ask for a donation to assist with our running costs during the other sessions.