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What is a Developmental Playgroup?

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

A developmental, or therapeutic, playgroup is designed to be a playgroup with a deeper purpose. Obviously, the first goal of the group is to play! Play is a wide-open gateway, allowing children to learn how to use their hands and bodies to move and create, how to interact with peers, and how to integrate what they see/hear/feel in the world to make sense of it all. However, the play activities are crafted by licensed pediatric professionals--including occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, early childhood educators, among others--to facilitate targeted social, sensory, and motor experiences for children in order to further development.

In contrast to other activity groups, such as those held at kids' gyms, the therapeutic intent of a developmental playgroup allows the agenda to be adjusted for children of all ability levels. Those experiencing delays can benefit from children who may have already met further developmental milestones, while the more advanced kiddos learn how to be a positive model and sensitive friend to others. In addition, it is a natural part of therapists' skill set to effectively modify tasks in order to match a child's current ability and push them toward further progress.

How is a Developmental Playgroup Structured?

A developmental playgroup may include a variety of activities focused to keep children engaged and expose them to novel speech sounds, sensory input, movement patterns, and social interactions. Often, repetition is used as a tool so that kids are able to anticipate the routine and remember what was addressed in previous sessions. This combination of exposure to new activities embedded within familiar routines can contribute to improved social-emotional regulation, motor planning and multi-step sequencing, joint attention as the foundation for speech and communication skills, and preschool preparedness.

At EC's Little Explorers, we use our imaginations to explore a new place each month!

Building off of the monthly theme, the schedule of activities each session includes:


Story Time

Messy Play


Arts & Crafts

Pretend Play


Curious about having your child participate in a developmental playgroup? Check out the infographic below and click here to find out more!

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