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Highlights from the 2018 Playtime national conference

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There was such a buzz around the venue as 400 delegates attended this year’s Playtime conference. It was an incredible day, jam-packed with workshops, main seminars, worship, resources, networking, creativity and lots of fun.

Two ladies travelled long distances to attend; they share their highlights of the day below:

My name is Mandy and I travelled to the Playtime national conference from Plymouth, where I help with the toddler group based in St Matthews Church, Elburton. My role in our group is to prepare the weekly craft, so the craft talk was my ‘must-go-to’ session. I travelled to the conference with two others from the team on Friday afternoon.

The main session talks given by Rob Parsons and Katharine Hill were so passionate and engaging. It’s easy to see how much they care about what we are all trying to achieve in our groups.

This year I went to Bob Hartman’s talk on ‘Storytime as Playtime’. It was a lively session with singing and actions as he told us about Zaccheaus. He is so enthusiastic about his topic that it is easy to see how his ideas can help inspire our toddlers.

My second workshop was ‘What is God doing through my toddler’ with Elle Bird. Both her insights and personal experience were so positive, which gave us real encouragement. She reminded us how kids on God’s team are so powerful as their spirituality is pure and innocent. They have no filters so just say things as they see them.

My third workshop was ‘Crafts for every season’ with Rachel Ball, who gave us ideas for a year’s worth of craft, along with ways to involve church regulars when certain items are needed, eg cereal boxes for 3D picture frames.

The Playtime conference is a fantastic opportunity to meet with like-minded people and to get some great ideas to bring home and try out at your toddler group. The whole day was filled with worship, love and inspiration.

My name is Rebekah and, along with Joy and helpers Averil, Elaine and Amanda, currently run a toddler session called Sparklers on a Wednesday morning 9:30 am – 11 am at Victory Church Cwmbran. We are blessed to have a soft play centre, The Ark, as part of our kids work at church too. This enables us to connect with 30 children and their families every Wednesday during term time, and we currently have a waiting list too.

We first heard of the Playtime conference just over three years ago, and were excited to meet others with the same passion for toddler groups as us. Joy and I immediately signed up to attend the conference in Bristol. We were blown away. Three years later we were looking for fresh inspiration to help keep us effective at reaching people in the community that God has placed us in.

We travelled two and half hours to London for this year’s Playtime conference. It was really worth the drive! We were able to gain knowledge in subjects such as postnatal depression, a dad’s role in toddler groups, inspiration for craft and so much more.

The highlight of the day for me was worshipping surrounded by toddler group leaders and helpers. I realised that, between us, we have an influence and impact on thousands of children across the country.

As we left the conference, Joy and I felt encouraged to not only keep going but to multiply. To facilitate this, we have since expanded into a second room. This will help us to increase capacity and hopefully reduce our waiting list. We have also begun building a website that will enable us to interact and equip families.

The whole Sparklers toddler group team would like to say a huge thank you to Care for the Family. We are grateful for all your input into us via the Playtime conference. We would like to encourage everyone with a heart for toddler groups to get a ticket for next year’s conference!