Oh, Peter Goers, the loveable ABC radio character who dubbed Victor Harbor ‘God’s waiting room’; it seems this town is not only filled with older people.
According to Kate Mueller, a reception teacher and mother of two, who runs the Investigtator College Community Playgroup in the gymnasium at the Victor Harbor campus on Monday mornings, the demand for well organised and controlled playgroup sessions has increased significantly while some in the city have declined in numbers.
This is the second year the school has provided the program, and after extending it to the Goolwa campus on Friday mornings the numbers have doubled with between 30-40 families attending each session a week.
Singnificantly, are lot more dads are coming along and relishing in the opportunity to meet and talk with other parents.
“I have friends in Adelaide who run playgroups and they normally average only 20 families each week,” Kate said. “I really think it emphasises that a town like Victor Harbor is not just for old people, and even today we got more new people here. We meet new young families who have moved to the area to experience change in lifestyle.”
Kate, who with her husband Peter has two children at the college, Ezekiel, 10, in Year 5, and Sienna, six, in Y1, said the playgroup was aged for children 0-5, and it differed to pre-school learning. Some of the parents send their other children to other schools – the playgroup is open to all families.
“It’s largely about the parents getting to know each other with many discovering they have a lot in common when it comes to bringing up a child,” Kate said. “They love to be doing the same things as their children.
“It is a time when mums and dads can have a chat and also see their children inter-act and socialise. They really like the structure of this playgroup.
“Once the children start coming regularly they know what to expect… they start to learn the basics like washing their hands before eating.
“Sometimes, through absolutely no fault of their own, parents do not have this opportunity to inter-act with other parents and some may feel they lack that moral support. They chat about similar situations, and it provides a sense of reassurance in a relaxed environment.
“It’s good that fathers are coming along, and it is something we are starting to build up in the school environment through parents and friends with dads getting more involved.
“We have a range of craft for the children to work with, and a sensory activity area – all the messy stuff that kids enjoy. The free-play area is in the gymnasium where we meet, and it’s big enough for children to ride their bikes or scooters. The fact we have a canteen here is another big plus.”
Terry Nightingale, a former police officer who moved here with his wife, Adele, from Worscestershire, England, nine years ago, and then to Victor Harbor three years ago, is one of the dads who takes his children Quinn, three, and Phelan, nine months, to playgroup.
He is now a delivery truck driver and between shifts enjoys being able to look after the children when Adele is working. They have another son, Darcy, five.
“We’ve been coming here since Quinn was little and it’s really good,” Terry said. “They have coffee for the mums and dads to keep them awake after a sleepless night and fun for the kids to keep them entertained; it’s a good place. They have such a big area for the kids to run around in and get rid of a bit of energy.”
The playgroup sessions run from 9-10.30am, and cost is $2 per family. T: 8555 7500 (Goolwa) or 8551 0900 (Victor Harbor).