When grandies have to come out to play

It’s reported that close to 40 per cent of the country’s 3.6 million children aged under 13 are regularly looked after by their grandparents or other family members while their parents work. LIBBY HILL calls into Canberra’s Grandparents’ Playgroup…

THE Grandparents’ Playgroup started in Canberra about six years ago with five families, giving the grandparents a chance to bond with their grandchildren, talk about grandparenting, exchange ideas and just have fun.

Sisters Sabah and Jade with their grandmother Gloria Jackson. Photo by Silas Brown.

Anne-Marie and Spencer Bell moved to Canberra to be closer to their daughter, who has two children, Hugo and Ella.

“We were totally new to Canberra and minding our grandchildren one day a week, we soon found that it was much nicer if we could be with other people who had small children, too, so there could be interaction there,” Anne-Marie says.

They attended a Get Messy With Grandma session at the National Museum one day and met other grandparents who told them about the grandparents’ Playgroup.

The children go to childcare two days a week in addition to the days spent with their grandparents.

“We do it because we wanted the interaction with them. It goes both ways, it’s an opportunity for them to be closer to their grandparents,” Anne-Marie says.

“When my children were small, both sets of grandparents were a long distance away, so I think that may be why I value so much the chance to be closer to them.”

The Grandparents Playgroup recently won a 2012 Children’s Week award for child development. They meet every Thursday at the Botanic Gardens.

More information at sites.google.com/site/gpgcbr

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