JAG launches national ‘Champions of Play’ program to boost ‘real play’
The Sector > Practice > Outside School Hours Care > JAG launches national ‘Champions of Play’ program to boost ‘real play’

JAG launches national ‘Champions of Play’ program to boost ‘real play’

by Freya Lucas

February 20, 2023

Outside school hours care (OSHC) provider Junior Adventures Group (JAG) has launched a national program designed to “change the way the nation thinks about sending children to OSHC” and to promote the value of “real play”.


JAG cares for up to 30,000 children a day, in 460 services across Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Western Australia, and will use the new program to focus on activities that “set kids up for the school day ahead, and help them unwind and connect with peers and family after the last school bell tolls.”


While JAG CEO Melinda Crole knows many parents access OSHC based on their working needs, she would like to see all families accessing JAG programs, and “embracing this type of care, because we’re using the precious morning and afternoon time to help kids develop essential life skills and reconnect with friends across all age groups, all through play.”


The new program has been developed by a panel of external experts in childhood development and best-practice playtime, including Robyn Munro-Miller AM, President of the International Play Association and CEO of Play Australia. The program centres around seven ‘Domains of Play’ to guide children and their educators in various ‘adventures’.


The Domains of Play are:


  • Flavour Fest: with a focus on cooking and nutrition experiences, JAG builds the life-skills and knowledge needed for healthy habits.


  • Global Kids: developing and exploring life-skills and world experiences of being good global citizens with a focus on community and sustainability.


  • Brain Boosters: code breaking, puzzles, captivating games, science experiments and exploring the world through STEM.


  • Power Teams: building team skills for life through games, challenges and group activities.


  • Super Sports: sporty sessions to help kids develop the skills to set them up for an active life.


  • Creative Inventors: creative play with a mix of expressive arts, materials, and crafts to fuel the inventor inside.


  • Zen Masters: from yoga to random acts of kindness, JAG practices skills and exercises to promote happiness, mindfulness and wellbeing that balances the mind and body.


“During COVID-19 lockdowns children were isolated from their friends and in many instances cut off from extra-curricular activities,” Ms Crole said. “To combat this experience kids (sic.), especially 5–12 year olds, need to reconnect physically with friends and play.”


The program, she continues, is about ‘real play’.


“A board game, for example, is not pure play because it’s playing within rules and boundaries,” Ms Crole said. 


“Real play is where children decide what they want to do, their activity morphs as they go along, and they get joy from being creative in this way.”


To reflect its new program, JAG is renaming before school care ‘Rise Then Shine’ and after school care ‘Stay And Play’. Centre operating hours will remain the same, and prices, while restructured, will be more affordable once the Federal Government’s Cheaper Childcare Bill comes into effect on 1 July.


“The Cheaper Childcare Bill is an important step in helping more women get back into the workforce,” Ms Crole says, “but our new national program is so much more than that. This is about fundamentally changing the OSHC system so that it’s less about babysitting and more about helping every child prepare well for the school day and have fun afterwards so that when they get picked up, they’re ready to enjoy quality family time.”


The new program intends to be fully rolled out by the time the Bill passes, and includes committing to a formalised handover for each child so parents and teachers know how children are going, and what kind of day they’ve had.


Learn more about JAG here

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