Grandparents-only playgroup is about fun and communication
"JUST listen to the happy noise. That's 10 kiddies having all sorts of fun with their grandparents at our first playgroup morning in Ascot."
Anne Gooley was talking about Queensland's first grandparents-only program organised by Playgroup Queensland at the Ascot Community Centre.
"It's been a wonderful experience for all of them, especially the grandparents who say they love the atmosphere and friendly environment and the chance to speak to others about themselves and their grandkids," said Anne, who is Playgroup's manager, parents and carer services.
The first group met at Ascot on July 27. If successful the grandparents-only playgroup will extend to other suburbs and eventually throughout Queensland with Logan likely to be the first outside Brisbane.
Anne Gooley, of Hamilton, a grandmother to Amy, 5, and Clare, 8, says the idea behind the playgroup is to give grandparents the opportunity to enjoy the company of other grandparents while their grandchildren play.
"After all, it is important to remember that a playgroup is the first step to lifelong learning," she said.
The event is a natural follow-on from Playgroup's MyTime program which brings parents and family carers together to help engage children with special needs in playgroup activities.
The grandparents-only group, an offshoot of MyTime, attracted participants from a wide area. One grandmother drove from northern NSW with her grandchildren.
Two grandparents from Brighton near Sandgate, were Graeme and Kay Winter, who moved from Biloela 18 months ago to help look after their two grandchildren, Eli, 4, and Violet, 2.
"Our daughter wanted to go back to work part-time, but with the cost of child care so expensive it wasn't feasible," Kay said.
"And I have to admit, we were missing the little ones too.
"We wanted to be a part of their lives on a regular basis, so we packed up and headed south and now look after Eli and Violet at least once a week."
But, as much as Graeme and Kay enjoy their time with their grandchildren, they find that they need things to do to keep the littlies entertained.
"There are only so many parks you can go to each week," Kay said with a laugh.
Anne has taken on these projects with a passion.
She came to Playgroup Queensland with experience in university management, an arts degree, a post-graduate degree in library science and a masters degree in technology management.
Anne gets to see - and hear - her grandchildren often, even though they live with their parents at Emerald.
"Little Amy, 5, is the family communicator," Anne said.
"She knows my telephone number and she calls me quite a lot, perhaps two or three times a week.
"Her dad and mum are okay with this."
The grandparents-only playgroup meets at Ascot on Mondays from 9.20am-11am. Contact Anne on 3855 9600 or toll free 1800 171 882. Email: email@example.com.