Positive playtimes for migrant and refugee children
Research shows that bringing migrant and refugee children and their families together for culturally appropriate, fun and safe playgroups can significantly improve a child’s mental health and wellbeing, as well as help them to transition into school with more confidence. Groups like these can also build parenting skills and develop the social networks of families who share similar life experiences.
Since 2007, Save the Children have been providing supported playgroups for children and women from migrant and refugee backgrounds. In a number of locations around Australia, our It Takes a Village program is specifically designed to create a sense of community for migrant children and families as they adapt to life in Australia.
Why multicultural playgroups are so important
Arriving in a new country where you don’t speak the language nor understand the customs can be a daunting experience for anyone. But for many newly arrived refugee and migrant families, the stress of adjusting to a new environment is especially heightened as they also try to deal with the issues that caused them to leave their home countries.
Migrant and refugee children and families often feel isolated when they arrive in Australia. Many children have experienced loss and trauma. Some struggle to adjust to life in a new country, where their social, community and learning environments are very different to their country of origin. Like all children, they need support to help them learn and develop.
Save the Children’s It Takes a Village program
We run weekly sessions for children under five years to help them learn to play, socialise and establish routine in their lives. The sessions consider culture and language, and make sure all children and parents feel welcome.
Bilingual early childhood educators offer parents advice, referrals to community services and connect them with other families. Snacks are provided at the playgroups to promote healthy eating habits.
It Takes a Village is complemented by other programs that support migrant families. We organise community Toy Libraries to support the early childhood development of disadvantaged children, we hold an African Reading Club, and we run practical skills workshops such as sewing, life skills and English lessons for mothers and older siblings through our Live and Learn program.