The Power of Playgroups: Key components of supported and therapeutic playgroups from the perspective of parents

Jodie Armstrong, Catherine Elliott, Emma Davidson, Joanne Mizen, John Wray, Sonya Girdler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Introduction: Playgroups are community-based programs for children and families aiming to improve child outcomes, enhance family and community networks and increase parenting capacity. Despite the prevalence of playgroups in Australian communities there is a lack of research clearly articulating the key components of playgroups, specifically from the perspective of parents attending these groups. This study aimed to identify the key components of supported and therapeutic playgroups impacting on perceived effectiveness from the perspective of parents with a child with a developmental delay and/or disability. Methods: This study explored the experiences of 23 parents attending supported or therapeutic playgroups using a qualitative interpretive phenomenological approach. Data were collected through three focus groups and seven individual interviews and analysed using Colaizzi's (1978) qualitative method of data analysis. Results: Findings indicated playgroup components that most strongly impacted on perceived effectiveness were feeling accepted; providing opportunities for child development, socialisation and enjoyment; and enhancing parental knowledge and skills. Findings reinforced the importance of family centred practice and facilitating peer support for families of children with developmental delay and/or disability. Conclusion: Supported and therapeutic playgroups emerged as a valuable model for parents of children with developmental delays and/or disabilities but require an interplay of specific facilitator, parent and child characteristics to be effective. This study contributes to the understanding of key components of successful supported and therapeutic playgroup models, highlighting the importance of engaging consumers in developing evidence-based meaningful interventions for children with developmental delay and/or disabilities and their families.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Nov 2020

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