Parramatta CityPlaytime was meeting at the local PCYC with about 20 mums and children when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced. We went straight to Zoom. There are three of us on team: Sunita – the host; Gavin – our pastor who envisioned this group; and myself, Heather – a helper and administrator. None of us had ever used Zoom before, and we have certainly felt out of our depth at times, but we persevere – not because we are getting great numbers, but because it is what God has called us to do…and if we are helping only six kids and their mums, then it is worth doing! When we went to Zoom, we started a Facebook group for current CityPlaytime members. But as time went on, the mums invited their friends…and as they are isolated from family, our group has been an important connection each week – both on Zoom and on Facebook. Each week we let the mums know what craft supplies they will need via our Facebook group, and we post the Zoom link…usually adding a feeling like ‘excited’ or ‘happy’, and a colourful background to draw attention.
On Zoom, we start with a few action songs, followed by the ‘moral of the day’. The group has been mostly made up of mums with Indian backgrounds, and Indian families value their children learning morals or values. Each week, Sunita will teach them about a particular word – such as ‘Peace’, ‘Truth’, or ‘Love’. She is assisted by our puppet ‘George the monkey’. We decided to introduce a puppet early on to help with engaging the kids. This week, one of the boys had bananas for George because he knows how much he loves bananas! Next, it is craft time. Gavin’s wife Cathy comes up with the ideas each week – which is not an easy job, as all the items used need to be found in the home. Recently we have made a ship out of an egg carton, penguin using cotton balls or tissues, and a number puzzle using paper, crayons/textas and a pair of scissors. Sunita posts her finished craft on Facebook and encourages the mums to do the same. Then it is ‘Story Time’, where we have a bible story. Dancing is also a big part of Indian culture, so we then spend a fair bit of time on more active songs. Once this is finished, Sunita speaks individually with each child before saying goodbye, and blessing each family before we sing the ‘Goodbye Song’.
We did plan to go back to live sessions after the holidays. But with the increase in Covid cases, we decided to go back to Zoom. Another activity we started doing about halfway through last term was a ‘Me Time’ – which was a chance for mums to chat without the kids. This was especially important when the mums couldn’t get out…particularly for stay-at-home mums (as this can be lonely and isolating – especially for a migrant). This may become important again in future if restrictions are increased.
If you’d like to join or watch how Parramatta CityPlaytime does Zoom, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org