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No. 59 (June 1967)
– 47 –

A Play Centre is Born

…in a small settlement on the East Coast

The mothers had the impression that Play Centre meant taking their children to the Play Centre for the Supervisor to teach. They were told that they were to bring their children and stay with them, that the Supervisor was not going to look after them. If they did not attend they were to send their children with someone the child knew.

1st Day: Mothers were asked to sit and observe their children at play. They sat, and they watched, and you could see absolute blankness on their faces.

After five minutes some of the mothers began chatting.

After ten minutes they began forming groups and chattering away about things in general.

2nd Day: The same thing happened.

3rd Day: One of the mothers came forward and said, ‘What am I supposed to be looking at?’

The Supervisor said, ‘Good for you! At least you've been looking for something.’ A meeting was called to discuss what they'd been looking for.

At the meeting the mothers discussed observations of the stages of development of a child, how at first he notices shape, and so on. Observation forms and Discussion forms were distributed. The mothers were then asked if they would like to have a better understanding of how their children would develop physically and mentally. They all agreed they would.

Enquiries were made as to when the Liaison Officer would be visiting the area, dates were fixed, and the mothers went forward from there.

Each mother was asked to choose a ‘play’— one that she would be interested to develop. This was done. They now hold discussion days once a month to see which play needs more equipment, why the equipment is necessary and how their play is developing.

When items have to be bought for the Play Centre there are no arguments. Enquiries… yes, explanations … yes, but this comes through the discussions, and every mother sees the importance of having good equipment. The mothers also have the right to grow in understanding of how to assist their children constructively in the art of living and learning socially, and the instilling of confidence. Personally I think parental involvment is important. Then, if the Supervisor or Committee members have to be replaced, the work goes on regardless, and the standard of work does not fall.

All parents have the right to voice an opinion.