Positive playtimes for migrant and refugee children
They say ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. When a community can come together to support parents, children can grow up with more support and care. This is especially important for children from migrant and refugee families as they settle in their new country.
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 with families who share similar life experiences.
Since 2007, Save the Children have been providing an integrated program for children and women from migrant and refugee backgrounds. Our playgroups, life skills classes, and family support help families settle successfully into the community. These sustained wraparound services strengthen social networks, build personal and community capacity, and get children ready for the Australian school system. Across Australia, our It Takes a Village program is specifically designed to create a sense of community for migrant and refugee 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 cope with the circumstances that caused them to leave their home country.
Migrant and refugee children and families often feel isolated when they arrive in Australia, with many experiencing loss and trauma. The challenges of adjusting to life in a new country, where their social, community and learning environments are very different to their country of origin can be overwhelming. A welcoming and culturally safe place to learn and develop supports children’s wellbeing and improves the settlement experience.
Save the Children’s It Takes a Village program
We run weekly sessions for families with children under five years to support families to engage with their children to learn through 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 practices.
It Takes a Village is complemented by other programs that support migrant families. Our Life Skills classes run while playgroup is on, giving mothers the tools and information they need around parenting, social and settlement support. The Live and Learn After School Program supports school-aged children with their studies, provides life skills that are focused on their needs and assists parents with navigating the school system.