Playcentre Awareness Week is looming and local centres are open for visitors.

The week, from March 6 to 12, marks 75 years since the first Playcentre opened in New Zealand. To celebrate, a week of fun activities and events has been lined up, Wanganui Playcentre president Debra Smith said.

On March 9, Playcentres in the Whanganui region will open their doors to the public.
Ms Smith said connecting children, families and their communities was something Playcentres had been doing since 1941, and the week was a chance to celebrate and focus on that connection.

"In Whanganui the local Playcentre is holding an exciting open day on March 9th, with activities for under-6-year-olds and their parents.


"Come along to your local Playcentre and join the fun, share the mess and the laughs of your children's early years," she said.

Playcentre is a New Zealand model where children learn by doing and through play.
Adults and children learn together, the play is child initiated, and behaviour is guided positively by the parents, who often stay during the session, she said.

"At Playcentre, parents and caregivers are valued as first and best teachers for their children.

"The Playcentre education programme empowers adults and gives them the opportunity to be leaders within the organisation."

Ms Smith said children must first build secure relationships with consistent adults in order to be able to develop to their full potential. Playcentres take children from age 0 to 6 years old.

At Playcentres in New Zealand parents or caregivers stay with all children under age 2½, meaning that infants and toddlers get personalised care and attention. Within this community of engaged adults, children are supported to play, use their imagination and extend their learning, she said.

"Parents often create long-lasting friendships and find support in the journey of parenting.

"Working with a group of parents with children at varying ages and stages means there is usually someone who has been through your situation before. Sharing of personal experience and knowledge is complemented by the NZQA approved adult education programme."

Playcentres in Whanganui are Aramoho, Burmah St, (Churton School); Eastside, 10 Matarawa St; Rapanui-Brunswick, 823 Rapanui Rd; Springvale, 39 Fox Rd, and Turakina, SH3 (Turakina School). Turakina Playcentre will be re-opening in Term 2.

The participating Playcentres will be open from 10am to noon on March 9 and people are welcome to show up during that time.