Tucked away in the TAFE campus at Meadowbank was a learning wonderland for kids. With close to 20 different themed play areas, wonderful staff and friendly, eager early childhood students to play with your kids, it’s no wonder that the wait list to attend TAFE play session was VERY long.
Sadly in 2019, with the development of the Meadowbank Education Precinct, the purpose built TAFE Play Session space was demolished. It has relocated to another building but at this stage they only have indoor space.
This article is about the ‘original’ TAFE Play Session, as we stopped attending in 2019 after 4 years.
Thanks to the persistent encouragement of a good friend, we have been attending play session for since 2015. I recommend it to all parents with kids under 5 that I meet – it’s one of the BEST activities that we do.
It can be difficult though to understand what TAFE play session is about unless you have been. There is very little information available online and the marketing is purely done through word of mouth. It was once described to me as like a playgroup on steroids but there are big differences between the two. I liken it more to an intensive childcare experience where you get to enjoy the fun and learning with your child.
So here is an outline of a morning session at TAFE play session (Meadowbank) to get you excited, plus a whole heap of photos. And if you haven’t already, I STRONGLY recommend you put your name on the wait list.
What is TAFE Play Session?
The play session is run by TAFE to provide a hands-on learning environment for their students of early childhood studies. For the kids lucky to attend, it is a great opportunity to explore different play interests, get messy, receive focused attention and have a great time. As a parent, it is great to be able to expose my children to so many well thought out, interactive play spaces, get wonderful ideas for play and learning activities at home, relax a little and not have to worry about cleaning up once all the fun comes to an end.
Here are the nuts and bolts:
- The weekly morning session runs from 10am to 12pm.
- It costs $120 for one child and $135 for two children per semester, though this does vary from semester to semester and session to session.
- You are required to bring a piece of fruit per child for morning tea.
- There are two semesters a year and this semester there are 11 sessions.
- Children can start from when they are babies and finish once they start school.
- There is no catchment zone so you can come from anywhere in Sydney.
- There are two teachers who supervise the students and at least one student is assigned to each play area to engage and interact with the kids.
- The ratio of student/ teacher to child is probably about 1:2, which means that you should be able to sit down and relax a little, assuming your child is happy to play without you right next to them.
- Parents are not required to closely supervise their children but must be on hand to manage inappropriate behaviour.
TAFE Play Session Set Up
The play session is set up with about 20 different play areas (see photos for examples) and the children can just wonder around until something takes their fancy and then start playing. On the whole, the type of play areas are the same each week but the materials available and focus change. For example, there is always a play dough table but with different coloured play dough each week as well as different materials and tools the children can use. One week the play dough table may have an ocean theme with blue play dough, shells and ocean animal cookie cutters and then next the table may have a bee theme with yellow and black play dough.
Here are photos of the regular play areas.
Food and Drinks
Morning tea is available throughout the session for when the children are hungry. It is prepared by one of the students from the fruit brought in by the families. There is a special morning tea table and cups of water are available, as is iced tea and coffee for the parents.
Parents are discouraged from bringing other food in and the play session is a nut free area.
At about 11:40am, group time starts with singing, dancing and usually a parachute. Children are encouraged to participate in group time but it is optional, and my boys used to take the time to continue to play outside.
I do feel a little cruel sharing how great play session is knowing that the wait list is very long but hopefully it is helpful for new mums and those currently waiting for a spot.
Please keep in mind that there are only two in takes a year and a lot of families keep attending until their kids go to school. So there aren’t many spots that become available during the first few weeks of the two semesters.
Here are some ways to improve your chances of getting a spot:
- It is best to email TAFE ([email protected]) to be put on the wait list so that your details are recorded correctly.
- It is easier to get a spot on Thursday or Friday morning, as there is a lot more demand to attend the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning sessions. There are also spots available for the Tuesday afternoon session.
- Contact TAFE at the end of semester 2 (November) and the beginning of each semester (February and August) to confirm your place on the wait list. This is also the time when they are confirming attendance and places become available. The phone number is 9942 3809.
- It is important to let TAFE know if your contact details change.
Location and Access
Entrance is off Rhodes Street, near Hermitage Road. The play session is held in Block V and there is pram access at the front and back. Unfortunately in 2019, there is no on-site parking and families will be left to find street parking which is really hard.
There are also tables outside the building that you are sit at for lunch after play session has finished.