Many playgroups run their sessions in the morning because most young children have more energy and are less likely to be ready for a nap then. A good workable time seems to be between one and a half to two hours. 9.30 am is a good time to start the session, so parents have time to deliver older children to school or call in at the supermarket before heading to playgroup. A timetable for the session might look like this:

  • 9.30 Free choice of play activities
  • 10.30 Pack away equipment, clean tables, everyone wash their hands
  • 10.40 Children eat morning tea (a good time to make announcements and celebrate birthdays)
  • 11.50 Mat time – a short story and/or sing songs
  • 11.00 Say good-bye

This timetable gives plenty of free time for the children to play and try out a range of the different activities offered. It also introduces some structured routines towards the end of the session to signal that playgroup is ending. Small children have difficulty in measuring the passing of time and they can become very upset if they are suddenly told that it is time to go home. The routines provide security and help them "count down" to the end of the session. A closing ritual, such as always singing the same song at the end of the morning while everyone holds hands, helps small children to accept that playgroup has finished until next week.

It is possible to schedule two playgroup sessions on one morning. The first session can run from 9.30 – 11.00 am, sharing morning tea. The second session can run from 11.30 am – 1 pm, sharing lunch.

Generally it is wise to run playgroup during school term times and have a break over school holidays. Having school-aged children at playgroup can overwhelm the smaller children and is best avoided except perhaps for a special occasion. Everyone enjoys a change of routine occasionally and the holidays can be a refreshing break for leaders, parents and children. Families that want to get together can be encouraged to exchange contact details.

The last week of term is a good opportunity to have a celebration, which can include Easter celebrations at the end of Term One and Christmas festivities at the end of Term Four.