We are very proud to announce that the Nar Nar Goon Playgroup, managed by Andrea Payroli, has been awarded the Winner, Community Playgroup of the Year (Regional/Rural category) at the Playgroup Victoria awards night on 12th November at the Convention Centre in the city.
It comes as little surprise to people in the community who know how well the Playgroup is run. It was fitting that Andrea accept the award on behalf of her team. Isabelle Deane (Andrea’s mother), Debbie Bramley, Maggie Collins and Catherine Brown are members of the support group who support Andrea in the monumental task of maintaining the successful playgroup. It must be said also, that the parents of the beloved playgroup are a supportive group too, and this is another reason why the Thursday morning play session is such a success. The students and staff at St James also get in on the act at various times to help or add to the lively activities.
Below, is the application rationale for the playgroup’s award submission. It was submitted by Lizzie Cunningham and seconded by Meg Watts.
“It’s a bit of wonderland when you walk through the doors of the Nar Nar Goon Playgroup. Not sure how they do it, but each week the atmosphere is inviting and relaxed yet completely energising.
There is enough continuity and routine in the program to build the children’s confidence and independence, while the different theme days offer new experiences and genuine wonder.
If it’s ‘Traffic Week’, a road will be mapped out on the floor – complete with traffic lights and signs. Children will be driving around in box cars they painted the week before, merrily tooting and zooming. You’ll meet local police officers who arrive, lights flashing, and patiently allow every child the chance to sit in the police car and toot the horn.
If we are celebrating Fathers’ Day then you can expect plenty more dads and grandfathers, kids on knees, sleeves rolled up, painting, constructing, playing, laughing and enjoying a homemade morning tea.
Orienteering? Then best make your binoculars (from recycled bits) and set off around St James School; following the numbers, exploring the school, meeting the students, collecting the treasures!
The depth of thought, planning and preparation is evidenced by children flocking to the many learning centres and happily embarking on whatever craft, construction, cooking etc. activity is set up.
While the learning centres evolve each week they are consistently imaginative and beautifully simple with little or no waste. It is encouraging to see tasks that each child can complete confidently and independently, sit alongside more challenging activities; those just beyond the children’s comfort zone and require the practising of new skills. And because they use such simple – often recycled – equipment, it is a great source of inspiration for parents looking to encourage developmental play at home.
Spaces are provided at the learning centres for adults to join in or support the children. This offers us rich opportunities not only to engage with our own child, but with other adults and children. It is not uncommon for new members to join each term, or for children to come along with a grandparent or carer – so it is also a very relaxed way to get to know new members.
There is no pressure for the children to complete tasks and many are happy simply mastering the climbing obstacle course, playing in the kitchen corner or building a railway. Because they have access to a range of simple equipment, often a game is spontaneously invented by the children or parents.
Nar Nar Goon Playgroup is an extraordinary place. On a personal note, my son, Arthur joined shortly after my father died (somehow Ange Payroli found a place for us immediately). I didn’t know it at the time but Arthur and I both needed the connection, the community and the energising spirit that the Nar Nar Goon Playgroup has to offer. I will be forever grateful for the generous welcome, genuine friendships and the sense of belonging the Playgroup provided my family.” (by Lizzie Cunningham)
Congratulations to the Nar Nar Goon Playgroup – a well deserving organisation.