The first five years of life are crucial for social, emotional, physical and intellectual development, and attending playgroup provides a great opportunity for children to play and interact in ways that support their growing knowledge and skills.
The Level Playgroup project was born when we asked our social media followers if they ever heard language or comments that upheld gender inequality or stereotypes at their playgroup – and 75% said ‘yes’! Playgroups told us they wanted more support in delivering sessions that promote gender equality and actively challenge gender stereotypes. Parents and carers wanted to see their playgroups actively modelling gender equality messages. It was time to make some changes!
This year we’ve been visiting playgroups as guest facilitators to deliver one-off gender equality and respectful relationships focused sessions – to help support playgroup facilitators to make sure their playgroups are promoting gender equality and to give parents and caregivers some ideas of how to break down gender stereotypes through their children’s play.
We’re also delivering professional development sessions to playgroup facilitators and other professionals working with families with young children, to talk about creating environments that support gender equality and respectful relationships practices – and why it’s so important to do.
To find out more about Level Playgroup, or to see how we can support your existing playgroup with promoting gender equality and respectful relationships, get in touch here at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s what we’ve been doing:
2022: With the generous support of Knox City Council, Level Playground partnered with the Migrant Information Centre (MIC) to run a weekly gender equality and respectful relationships playgroup with families from the Zomi community. Each session was supported by an interpreter and facilitators from Level Playground and MIC. Playgroup sessions tackled different themes – such as gender stereotypes, emotional literacy, respect and body safety – and messages were delivered through activities, stories, songs and group discussions. Guest speakers from local organisations such as the toy library helped to connect families to their local community, and at the end of the Level Playgroup in Knox project, families were invited by representatives from Knox City Council to join a supported playgroup and continue building those community connections.
Also in 2022, with the support of Yarra Ranges Council, facilitators from Level Playground dropped in to established playgroups across the Yarra Ranges to run guest sessions focused on promoting respectful relationships and breaking down gender stereotypes in playgroups and at home. It was so great to meet so many wonderful families and get to know playgroup facilitators working in the community. Based on our chats with the regular facilitators, we created the Level Playgroup Facilitator’s Guide and launched it online in November. The guide is now available to download here
2023: We’re at it again! This time thanks to Manningham City Council’s Community Development Grants program Level Playground and the Migrant Information Centre partnered up to deliver a 12 week gender equality and respectful relationships focused playgroup to families from the Chinese community living in Manningham. From making playdough together (to talk about how colours are for everyone), to singing songs about recognising and managing emotions, to dressing up and doing loads of pretend play (because anyone can do any job, regardless of gender), we’ve had so much fun!