Family Morning Out Playgroups Help Young Children Develop Social Skills and Caregivers Find Support

A woman reads a book to two young girls.
Photo: Anthony Riso

The Family Center staff at Families First & Support Center offers weekly playgroups in five different towns and cities on the Seacoast. The Family Morning Out playgroups are designed for children 6 and under and their caregivers, and are offered at no cost. The small group
sessions include opportunities for young children and their caregivers to socialize with peers.

“Our Family Morning Out playgroups are designed to be inclusive of all community members and all types of families and caregivers,” said Jo Ann Clement, Family Center Manager. “We welcome anyone who may be interested in getting out and socializing with other families.”

Experts agree that unstructured play helps children learn about the world around them and how to interact with peers. Playgroups give young children the opportunity to learn about empathy and achieve shared goals. Studies have shown that children who learn social and cooperation skills at a young age will excel in these skills later in life.

“By offering playgroups, we help support the social, emotional, and cognitive development of young children to help them be successful in school and beyond,” Jo Ann said.

Asia of Rollinsford started bringing her youngest child to the group with his older sisters when he was 9 months.

“We love coming to Family Morning Out to see our friends. The facilitators have helped us to develop a strong network of caregivers,” she said. “In addition, the social opportunities have helped my children interact with their peers, especially my son. It’s been great to see him grow.”

Playgroups have also been shown to be beneficial for parents and caregivers who often find themselves isolated. Bringing caregivers together helps them to share their experiences and feel less alone.

Asia says that she often comes to the playgroups more for her than for her kids.

“For me, it’s the social part,” she said. “It’s good for me to be around other moms and caregivers.”

Family Morning Out groups are held in Somersworth, Epping, Exeter, Seabrook, and Portsmouth. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers of any capacity can come to meet peers and share their experiences and resources.

Our Family Center is designated as a Family Resource Center of Quality by the Wellness and Primary Prevention Council. The Center provides parenting classes on a variety of topics and helps connect caregivers to community resources.

The Family Center at Families First & Support Center is part of Greater Seacoast Community Health, a network of community health centers in Somersworth and Portsmouth. These health centers offer integrated health care services including primary care, pediatrics, dental care, prenatal care, behavioral health counseling, substance use disorder treatment, mobile health services, WIC, social work services, a pharmacy, parenting classes, playgroups, and home visiting.

For more information and a schedule of play groups, visit
tinyurl.com/SeacoastParenting.

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