Master's Thesis, 2017
ABBREVIATIONS AND ACRONYMS
CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION
1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Purpose of the Study
1.4 Objectives of the Study
1.5 Research Questions
1.6 Significance of the Study
1.7 Scope and Limitation
1.8 Assumptions of the Study
1.9 Theoretical Framework
1.10 Conceptual Frame Work
1.11 Operational Definition of Terms
CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Children with Physical Challenges
2.2 Government Support
126.96.36.199. Accommodating Children with Physical Challenges in the Outdoor Environment
2.3 Parental Support
2.4 Benefits of Play and Learning Materials
2.4.1 Physical Development
2.4.2 Development of Self Care Skills
2.4.3 Development of Social Skills
2.4.4 Language Development
2.4.5 Emotional Development
2.4.6 Cognitive Development
2.5 Summary of Literature Review
CHAPTER THREE METHODOLOGY
3.1 Research Design
3.2.1 Independent Variable
3.2.2 Dependent Variable
3.4 Location of the Study
3.5 Target Population
3.6 Sampling Techniques
3.6.1 Sample Size
3.7 Research Instruments
3.7.2 Observation Schedule
3.7.3 Interview Schedule
3.8 Pilot Study
3.9 Data Collection Procedures
3.10 Data Analysis
3.11 Logistical and Ethical Considerations
CHAPTER FOUR Data Analysis, Results and Discussions
4.1 Demographic Information about the Subjects under Study
4.2 Parental roles in Provision of play and learning materials
4.2.1 Play and Learning Materials provided by Parents
4.2.2 Rating of Parents Involvement in Provision of Play and Learning Materials by Teachers’
4.3 Factors Influencing provision of Play and Learning Materials.
4.4 Activities Which Children with Physical Challenges Engage in with the play and Learning Materials Provided.
4.4.1 play and Learning Activities
4.4.2 Reading and Writing Activities
4.4.3 Drawing and Coloring
4.4.4 Social Interaction
4.5 Researcher’s Observation
CHAPTER FIVE SUMMARY, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.2 Implications of the Findings
5.5 Recommendations for Further Research
APPENDIX I QUESTIONNAIRE FOR TEACHERS
APPENDIX II QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THE HEAD-TEACHER
APPENDIX III OBSERVATION CHECKLIST
APPENDIX IV OBSERVATION OF CHILDREN
APPENDIX V INTERVIEW SCHEDULE FOR PARENTS
APPENDIX VI BUDGET
APPENDIX VII TIME SCHEDULE
I dedicate this work to all teachers who handle children with physical challenges in Kenya
This work would not have been possible at first without the divine help from the almighty God who has taken me this far. Secondly, I appreciate the support of my supervisors Dr Rachel .W. Kamau-Kang’ethe and Dr Catherine Murungi. I am sincerely grateful for their effort in reading through my work and giving enlightening suggestions which helped me to improve my study and move forward. I also acknowledge the support of members of Early Childhood Studies Department for their kindness and willingness to support me whenever I needed guidance. Also appreciated is the support by friends and classmates who willingly encouraged and gave me moral support during discussions. To my family I treasure the way you encouraged me to work hard and to be patient during my tight schedules of work. I am greatly indebted to all of you.
In Kenya there is still a high population of children either born with or who develop physical challenges. These children are often neglected and most do not join school at the expected age. In joining school they encounter several difficulties in their play and learning activities. These children with physical challenges have developmental needs and rights like other children but due to their exceptionality they call for more attention in provision of adequate quality play and learning materials to enhance their holistic development. However, it is apparent that provision of materials to children with physical challenges has not been possible due to various factors which are not yet understood. The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of parents in the provision of play and learning materials to children who are physically challenged. The study sought to establish parents’ involvement in provision of play and learning materials and factors influencing the kind of support they offer. The study was carried out in a Primary School for the Physically Challenged. The school was purposefully selected because it is best suited for the study since it caters for children in the category of special needs being addressed in the study that is physical challenges. Case study design was used in order to gather in-depth information about roles of stakeholders in support of physically challenged children. Target population of the study was 100 children with physical challenges, 200 parents and 4 teachers and the head teacher. Stratified random sampling method was employed to arrive at a Sample size of 30 children with physical challenges, purposive and opportunity sampling to arrive at 30 parents and purposive sampling to arrive at 4 teachers. Therefore, the total sample size was 64. The data were collected using various techniques which included questionnaires for the teachers, interview schedules for parents and observation schedules for children. Collected data were analyzed using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Quantitative methods entailed use of descriptive statistics such as frequencies and percentages which enhanced discussion of qualitative data which was organized into themes and categories and presented in discussion form. Microsoft excel was used to ease data analysis. The study established that parental involvement in provision of play and learning materials is minimal. The major factors which influenced support offered by parents’ were inadequate finance and complexity of some physical challenges which requires further investigation to establish the most appropriate play and learning materials to suit the needs of the child. It was evident that children were capable of engaging in various plays and learning activities where appropriate play and learning materials were availed consequently enhancing holistic development. The main recommendation of the study is that government should have a budgetary allocation meant specifically for purchase of play and learning materials and maintenance of facilities since it’s a noble course which would ensure that children are actively involved in play and learning activities therefore enhancing holistic development molding children with physical challenges to become self reliant and productive citizens.
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List of Tables
Table 3.1 Sampling Grid
Table 4.1 Types of Physical Challenges Present among Sampled Children
Table 4.2 Play and learning materials provided by parents at home and at school
Table 4.3 Stakeholders’ Involvement in Provision of Play and Learning Material
Table 4.4 Rating of Stakeholders’ Involvement in Support of Physically Challenged Children
Fig 1.1 Levels of Environmental Systems which Interact with the Child
Fig 1.2 Role of Stakeholders in Provision of Play and Learning Materials among Physically Challenged Children in Lower Primary School
Fig 4.1 Types of Physical Challenges Present among Sampled Children
Fig 4.2 Play and learning materials provided by parents both at home and at school
Fig 4.3 Stakeholders’ Involvement in Provision of Play and Learning Materials
Fig 4.4 Stakeholders’ Involvement in Provision of Play and Learning Material
Play and learning materials play a great role in enhancing development of children especially in their formative years. Play opportunities promotes learning of various physical skills, development of self confidence, independence and social competence (Witt, 2004). However, play and learning for children with physical challenges requires more support as these children may not have the capability to venture into play on their own. Unlike, non-disabled children they beckon, for more attention especially in the provision of appropriate play and learning materials to enhance their holistic development. This is because their play is complex due to the fact that there are many types of physical challenges with different degrees of severity from child to child. This requires the need for variety and innovative play and learning materials to be provided by stakeholders to make it possible for children with physically challenges to play and learn in ways that their potential is realized. Many physically challenged children live a life of dependency on their family members and they participate minimally in productive activities even after completing their school (Kamau, 1986) and (Mwathi, 1997). This can be attributed to lack of adequate play and learning materials for physically challenged children which promotes realization of one’s potential while still young.
Globally, efforts are made to meet the needs of persons with physical challenges persons through enactment of laws such as the Person with Disabilities Act (2003). The UN formally agreed upon the Convention on the Rights of Person with Disability on December 13th, 2006. By December, 2010, 96 countries out of the 147 signatories had ratified the convention. Ratification of the convention is a demonstration of the governments of countries that they commit to adopt new national laws and repeal the outdated ones so that persons with disabilities will have equal rights to education, employment and cultural life. Kenya also ratified the convention although a lot is yet to be done in promoting the welfare of persons with disabilities.
According to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF, 2008) there are approximately 150 million children with disabilities in the world. The largest proportion of these children is from the developing countries. In the United States the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students with special needs be provided with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment that is appropriate to the children’s needs. Therefore, the U.S government provides special education ranging from the least restrictive such as full inclusion to the most restrictive such as segregation in a special school. However, the most dominant model is inclusion which is also adopted in countries like Australia, Denmark and others (Joe, Sue and Stuart, 2001). The model of inclusion helps children with special needs to adapt faster to life after school since they interact with other normal children unlike with the segregation model.
In Canada, support for people with physical challenges is also advanced due to availability of quality assistive devices. In addition, most schools use adaptations such as specially printed examinations for children with visual impairment, in other instances alternative assessment or modification that simplify tests are permitted and some are exempted from the test entirely (Beach, Bertrand, Forer, .Michal, & Tougas ,2004). This brings about a sense of achievement at the level of the learner hence developing self confidence. In Germany, 1 in 21 German children attends a special school since they are highly developed with trained teachers, favorable student teacher ratio and adapted facilities not available in regular schools. However, in country like Kenya which is developing pupil teacher ratio is high therefore our special schools are not effective in preparing children with special needs for life.
Franks (2002) said, “I seriously don’t understand it when people say ‘I am confined to a wheelchair’, the only thing that holds you back is yourself and your imagination. The human spirit cannot be paralyzed, if you can breathe, you can dream”. This shows that young children with physical challenges can be helped to develop independence if appropriate measures are undertaken in time since disability does not mean inability. Studies by Janney et al (1995) and Wolery et al (1995) have shown that early intervention could arrest and diminish the effects of disability in children for example through stimulation of developmentally delayed children, targeted exercises and therapy. Due to the commitment of the government in developed countries in enforcing law and providing adequate play/learning materials physically challenged are able to become independent in life.
However, in the Africa region, children with physical challenges face many difficulties such as lack of adequate play and learning materials. This problem is accelerated by poverty in most African countries which lack finances to purchase play and learning materials as well as for adaptation of the environment which is a pre-requisite for play and learning to take place.
Funding in most African countries is by the government, parents, NGO’s and other individual sponsors for example in Tunisia, Namimbia, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya .However, in Botswana special education is funded entirely by the government (UNESCO, 1993), UNESCO, 2003b). Inspite of the support from several stakeholders’ financial inadequacies continues to be a major issue.
Consequently many physically challenged live a life of dependency on family members, their prospects in employment are slim, and they are deprived of education, knowledge and awareness (College, 1991), (Kamau, 1986) and (Mwathi, 1997). Parents normally bear a great deal of the burden of supporting the child with physical challenges but due to lack of support from the community and other stakeholders they give in to the fact that the child with disability shall be dependent throughout their life. Therefore they fail to put effort in assisting the child to overcome their challenges by providing play and learning materials which would allow the child to engage in play and learning activities.
According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) (2009) In Kenya, there are about 1.3 million people with disabilities. Among this huge number are children with physical challenges approximated to be about 20,000 (Ministry of Education, 2007) some of these children have been mainstreamed into the main schools others in special schools while some have not joined any school. This population cannot be neglected and they require more commitment from parents, government and other stakeholders in order to secure for them a bright future. However, most of these children are kept at home, denying them an opportunity to attend school where their potential can be developed.
Children with Physical challenges who are privileged to join school do experience a lot of problems due to poor adaptations. Kamere (2004) noted that all the special schools do not have adequate adapted materials which enhance play and learning. Also through a study conducted by Andolo (2007), children with physical challenges reported on the need to be provided with quality mobility and assistive devices to enhance participation in various learning activities independently. These shows that the play and learning needs of physically challenged have not been fully addressed especially in the provision of play and learning materials.
In early childhood education play and learning are inseparable and they stimulate one another. There are dimensions of play in learning and dimension of play in learning. Several studies have proved that play especially during early years promotes learning and holistic development. However, play and learning for a child with physical challenges is not effortless a lot should be done by stakeholders involved in provision of play and learning materials. Studies by Kamere (2004), Kimosop (2002) and Wamocho (2003) reveal that special schools do not have adequate play and learning materials however they did not investigate factors behind the inadequacies from parents’ point of view hence the need for the current study. Government, parents and other stakeholders have tried their best to cater for educational needs of children with physical challenges but the inadequacies persist. Therefore, the study sought to establish role of parents in the provision of play and learning materials and the challenges they experience in provision of play and learning materials which are of key importance to these children. Also the study established activities that children engage in with play and learning materials provided to them.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of parents in the provision of play and learning materials to children with various physical challenges in the early childhood in a Primary School for the Physically Challenged. The study established role of parents and factors influencing their support in provision of play and learning materials.
The following objectives guided the study:
1. To establish parents’ role in provisions of play and learning materials.
2. To find out factors influencing provisions of play and learning materials by parents and teachers.
3. To establish activities that children with physical challenges engage in with the play and learning materials provided.
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What are the role of parents’ in the provision of play and learning materials?
2. What factors influence parents’ ability to provide play and learning materials?
3. What are the activities that children with physical challenges engage in with the play and learning materials provided?
The study yielded information on the role of parents’ in the provision of play and learning materials to children with physical challenges. These findings should inform policy makers in developing policies that support provision of play and learning materials. Curriculum developers also should gain important information about the relevant materials and facilities that should be recommended in the curriculum being offered to children with physical challenges which can effectively adapt it to suit the needs of physically challenged children better.
The findings also can be useful to teachers’ training colleges especially Kenya Institute of Special Education (K.I.S.E) where they should emphasize more on development of play and learning materials to promote teacher initiative in provision of materials. Finally, parents and members of the community will be sensitized about the importance of play and learning materials challenging them to improve their support to physically challenged children.
The scope and limitation of the study was as follows:-
The study was conducted in a Special Primary School. The study concentrated on children with physical challenges in early childhood education. The school was best suited for the study since it caters for children with various physical challenges. It was a case study whose findings could not be generalized to other schools since each is unique. Therefore, similar studies can be carried out in other schools handling children with physical challenges.
Challenges experienced during the study were: the unwillingness of some of the parents to avail themselves for interview, language barrier and ignorance among parents’. The study targeted children below eight years old but most of the children in the lower primary were above that age due to delay at home because of their physical challenges consequently the age limit was extended to twelve years.
The study assumed that the sample in the Primary School was representative of the children with physical challenges in Kenya. The study further assumed that parents shared genuinely about their experiences in relation to provision of play and learning materials.
The study employed Albert Bandura social learning theory (1977) which states that behavior is learned from the environment through observational learning. Individuals observed are called models. In a school situation children have teachers’ as role models whom they observe and imitate for example if a teacher has a new toy or a puzzle and demonstrates how to utilize it in the class, children later do as they have observed. According to Bandura for this kind of learning to take place the following processes take place;
Children must pay attention to the model while observing and concentrate on the relevant aspect to be learned. The ability to concentrate is influenced by the model characteristics such as attitudes and beliefs. If the child attends to irrelevant aspect little learning takes place. While working with children with physical challenges the teacher must model right attitudes towards utilization of the provided play and learning materials and encourage learner to concentrate on what they are capable of doing rather than what they cannot do.
Attention aids the retention process where the learner codes the information observed into the long term memory. Retention occurs if the learner attempts to do what he or she observed repeatedly and the activities performed during the learning process makes it easier to remember. In a teaching learning situation if children are provided with materials which they can see and manipulate they get to understand much faster and remember.
Whatever is understood is likely to be reproduced at a later time. Reproduction involves imitating or copying the behavior which one has observed. The frequency at which a behavior is reproduced depends on practice and reinforcement. If teachers’ or parents’ encourage a certain activity like ball game, completing a puzzle and engaging in any other activity with the provided play and learning materials. It’s more likely that the child will regularly engage in such an action due to the reinforcement. Also if a child with cerebral palsy completes a drawing and is applauded the learner will put more effort in ensuring he or she completes any task given.
Reinforcement of behavior can either be external or internal and it can be positive or negative. Children with physical challenges may receive approval from the parents, teacher and peers. These people provide an external reinforcement while if a child feels happy, accomplished, satisfied and relaxed after performing an activity he or she is said to be internally motivated. A child may be motivated by past reinforcement, present or vicarious reinforcement. Negative reinforcement occurs if a child is discouraged by parents, teachers and peers. Also if the child feels that he or she did not meet his or her personal expectation may punish self and withdraw as a result the child may develop low self esteem.
Children with physical challenges should be assisted by their teachers’ and parents’ to develop self awareness to avoid setting very high standards for themselves which may be unachievable during play and learning activities. They should also be encouraged to celebrate their victories by displaying every work they complete like models or drawings to ensure they don’t dwell on their failures.
Albert Bandura emphasized on reciprocal determinism which states that an individual behavior is influenced by the environment and characteristics of the person. Therefore, a person behavior, environment and personal qualities all reciprocally influence each other. If the environment of children with physical challenges is well equipped with a variety of play and learning materials, this will influence their involvement in various activities. Also child’s ability determines the kind of activities he or she engages in.
The study also employed Vygotsky (1978) social cultural approach to play. Vygotsky viewed play as the most significant “leading” activity of the early childhood years. This means that the most significant psychological, physical, social and emotional achievements of the early childhood age occur while children engage in play. For such achievement to be realized by children with physical challenges play and learning materials should be availed.
Vygotsky espoused the notion of the Zone of Proximal Development which he defined as the difference between a children’s actual and potential levels of development. According to Vygotsky (1978), play creates a broad zone of proximal development, both in cognitive and socio-emotional development. Teachers ought to understand what children can do on their own during play and learning activities and where they need support of knowledgeable others. This ensures that children fully benefit from the activities they engage in.
To stimulate involvement in make-believe play the school should have props either indoors or outdoors. In make-believe play children perform above their own cognitive abilities displaying logical thinking, memory and attention. Their ability for deliberate behavior and self-regulation in make-believe play is also beyond their everyday norm. Another important of this play on development is the separation of thought from actions and objects and the development of mental representation and symbolic function. The pretend situation of play creates an imaginative dimension in which children use substitution of things and acts. Separation of the meaning from the object promotes the development of abstract ideas and abstract, verbal thinking. In actions like riding a stick as if it were a car, children separate the literal meaning of the object from its imagined meaning and this marks the beginnings of abstract thought.
According to Vigotsky play is a vehicle for a child behaving more maturely than at other times. Also through play children can work at the top of their Zone of Proximal Development. Adequate play and learning material it’s therefore, a necessity for play and learning to take place among children with physical challenges. This is due to the fact that their play is complex because of physical limitations which requires prior preparation in provision of appropriate play materials and also ensuring that the environment is conducive for play and learning activities.
Fig 1.2 Role of parents’ in Provision of Play and Learning Materials Among Children with Physical Challenges.
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The conceptual framework illustrates the problem of inadequate provision of play and learning materials among physically challenged children. The problem is attributed to the failure of government, parents and other stakeholders in providing adequate play and learning materials. Various factors may influence the parents’ role in provision of play and learning materials which include; negative attitude, wrong perception of the physically challenged children and lack of finances.
Inadequate play and learning materials implies that children do not participate adequately in play and learning activities. Consequently, they tend to develop poorly physically due to lack of exercises and this leads to poor adjustment to life. Also they don’t acquire skills expected at different stages of development. This makes them to develop low self esteem when they compare themselves with their peers hence opting just to be dependent on others on various issues in their life. All these challenges can be overcome through sensitization of stakeholders about the importance of play and learning materials so that they can provide adequate materials. The school administration can be sensitized on importance of prioritizing adapting environment to facilitate play and learning. Finally, enhanced teachers’ training which emphasizes on development of material can help to improve teacher’s innovation in improvisation of play and learning materials.
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This chapter reviewed documented literature which relates to the topic of the study. It has also reviewed an overview of children with physical challenges and role of parents in the provision of play and learning materials. Furthermore, literature on special education adaptations and benefits of play and learning materials to physically challenged children was reviewed.
Physical challenge refers to a physical condition that differs from the norm in characteristics to the extent that a modification of school practices is required for the child to develop his or her maximum capacity (Gallagher, 1993). Physical challenges affect normal functioning due to physical limitations that affect use of limbs, hands, trunk control, mobility and strength. These limitations affect mobility such that the individual is forced to use wheelchairs or other orthopedic appliances such as crutches and walkers.
Children with physical challenges are categorized into the following physical disabilities that impede mobility and physical vitality, multiple handicaps and severe problems for example cerebral palsy, brittle bones, spinal bifida, muscular dystrophy and health impairments (Cooks & Gibbs, 2001). Each of these conditions calls for special attention especially in the provision of play and learning materials and adapting environment to suit the physical and educational needs of children with physical challenges. This calls upon various stakeholders to actively participate in supporting physically challenged children to ensure that they reach maturity with adequate self confidence and a maximal ability to compete in the adult world. Stakeholders involved in providing play and learning materials to physically challenged children include;
The Government plays a major role in the provision of play and learning materials through financing schools handling children with physical challenges, by offering services through various government agencies such as the ministry of education, schools and other public institutions. The support from Government varies from one Nation to another because of various factors such as economic status and policy formulation and implementation. Support from developed countries differs from the support in underdeveloped countries in several ways.
In developed countries like America, attitudes toward special children have moved from rejection and isolation to integration as much as possible (Samuel & James, 1986). The education Act for all children with physical challenges was established and it contains six principles that shape Special Needs Education. These principles are zero reject, nondiscriminatory evaluation, individualized education programs, least-restrictive environment, due process and parental participation. Consequently America being one of the developed countries have made significant milestones in supporting physically challenged unlike developing countries where physically challenged struggle due to poor implementation of policies that support their wellbeing in life.
In Kenya, Special Needs Education has been developing though incapacitated by lack of funds. Therefore there are many children with physical challenges who rarely receive any support from the government. Such children are deprived education and knowledge which can promote independence. They live a life of dependency and tend to be poorly adjusted to life (Bare Foot College, 1991). The more a child plays and exercises the more the brain and body develops (UNICEF 1999). For children with Physical challenges to play/learn they need extra services in the provision of play and learning materials to compensate for their handicapping limitations. However, in most cases the support for children with physical challenges in provision of play and learning material is questionable since a lot has not been done even in availing play/learning materials and also in adapting the environment.
Adapting play and learning environment for children with physical challenges is a challenge for play ground developers and teachers because each disability presents unique considerations. There are three ways of adapting instructions for children with physical challenges which include changing the following: The actual content of lessons, the specific knowledge being taught, the skills being taught or the environment in order to create an appropriate setting to teach (Joe et al, 2001). Changes in the content and skills can be done without affecting anyone outside the immediate group. However, in Kenya this has not been possible since physically challenged children are exposed to the same curriculum with children who are not disabled in the regular programmes also there are no additional attempt to provide of play and learning materials above what is provided in regular schools. This makes it difficult for physically challenged children to benefit fully from their academics.
The government can provide resource room for use by physically challenged children. Hammill & brown (1978) defined a resource room as any instruction setting to which a child comes for specific period of time usually on regular scheduled basis. Resource room requires a special teacher who consults with the classroom teacher to develop programs that are intended to eventually eliminate the problem that the child may be experiencing. Micro computers have been effective in offering children with physical challenges an opportunity to learn. Browning & Cater (1983) noted that microcomputers are finding new uses on regular basis and it has a variety of application for example computerized communication helps children who cannot communicate to talk with others. McConnell (1982) computers translate Braille into print and print into Braille for children with severe vision problems. However, in Kenya such provisions are rarely there. As a result early childhood programmes do not lay the expected foundation which facilitates growth and development in the future.
The government should avail several materials and facilities for use by physically challenged which include; computers, powered mobility devices, adapted books, adapted toys, electronic communication system and adapted play and learning environment. Vanderheiden (1982) pointed out that there are a number of very special uses of microcomputers for special children who have lost or have never had the use of their hands, who have never been able to explore their world through physical manipulation. Because of the many ways in which computers aid individuals with physical challenges it is clear that microcomputers hold future vocational potential for children with physical challenges (Taylor et al, 1990). However, early childhood programs for physically challenged children are not fully equipped with computers and other adapted materials which these children need to learn how to use during their foundational years.
Kenyan government supports physically challenged children in different ways for instance through provision of schools, employing teachers and by adapting school environment to meet the special needs of the physically challenged. However, there is a lot that still needs to be done because the teachers employed are few compared to number of children and materials/facilities availed are inadequate.
In school, the physically challenged children interact more with the teacher who can influence how the child makes use of materials provided in learning basic skills in life and also in gaining new knowledge. Physically challenged children long to be normal and be seen as normal as much as possible. To assist them those in charge of children with physically challenged should focus on what the child CAN do - not CAN'T do. Parents and teachers handling children with physical challenges should establish child's strengths and capitalize on them. This is because they need to feel successful too (Sciarra, 2004). Expectations for the children with physical challenges from both the teachers and parents should be high since they are capable of achieving more in life. Progress made during play and learning activities should be complemented to motivate learners and other children need to be taught about physical disabilities to develop respect and acceptance. Rude remarks, name calling or teasing from other children should never be accepted. Once children with physical challenges are fully understood teachers will be able to develop appropriate play and learning materials to enhance their development in all areas.
To enhance holistic development education programmes should be modified or adapted to meet with developmental needs of children with physical challenges. Schools should provide a setting for self discovery in order to understand clearly one’s weaknesses and strengths (Maslow, 1970). Therefore, education for the physically challenged must be realistically based on the child's ability and likely potentials on leaving school. Acquiring daily-living skills may be as important as academic qualifications. Teachers are supposed to learn about how to balance between independence and over-protection. Overprotection would mean that children are not given the opportunity to try out things on their own and such tendencies accelerate dependence.
Most of the special schools in Kenya are not fully adapted to suit the needs of special children. These children always feel that they should be provided with sufficient medical facilities and equipment to help them cope with life, adjust to life and enhance their mobility without assistance (Andolo, 2007). Other studies by Kamau (1986) and Mwathi (1997) revealed that physically challenged live a life of dependency even after completing school showing that they did not get opportunities that prepared them for independent living.
Opportunities for outdoor play are equally necessary for children with physical challenges. Outdoor play offers a change from the classroom environment and provides opportunities to develop gross motor, self-help, and social skills (Cook & Gibbs, 2001). The key to including all children, regardless of their abilities is to adapt the environment to their diverse needs by providing challenges with differing degrees of difficulty such as balance beams of different lengths, simple obstacle courses or noncompetitive games (Wellhousen, 2002). Outdoor environments usually require different adaptations from those of indoors for example children with physical challenges, playground equipment can be adapted by positioning it so that children can attain maximum range of reach, motion, muscle control, and visual contact. Adapting the outdoor environment for children in wheelchairs can be accomplished by placing equipment lower, or building a sand table at wheelchair height that is sturdy enough to withstand leaning (Kabiru & Njenga, 2007).
Outdoor environment can be arranged to foster all children’s creative thought through a variety of planned uses of space, activities, experiences, and materials (Leadbetter & Leadbetter 1993). Teachers who believe in the power of the environment for learning must assume roles that guide children’s creative processes. The first step in adapting the environment is to fully understand the nature and extent of each child’s limitations. The next step is adapting environment so that each child can participate in a way that emphasizes abilities rather than disabilities (Hallahan & Kauffman, 2000) For example, children with hearing difficulties often feel frustrated and socially isolated from other learners. As a result, they engage in less pretend play with others and are less likely to use objects symbolically.
Children with physical impairments always require a physical orientation to the classroom including the location of materials, centers and exits (Shepad & Smith, 1983). Environments for these children include an orientation to the classroom from a single focal point such as their table or desk then an orientation to the school after they are familiar with the classroom noting which play materials, equipment, activities and playmates are available during playtime; providing a sensory-rich play environment with a variety of cues such as tactile maps and tape-recording directions placed in key areas of the room, which could be identified through the use of tactile material. Children with limited motor abilities may have problems with large or small muscles and have a slower reaction time than other children. The adaptation for them varies according to the severity and type of disability (Ndurumo, 1993).
Environments for these children should include modifications for writing such as computers, felt-tip rather than soft lead pencils and pads rather than sheets of paper; playgrounds designs that use smooth pathways and ramps to help them gain access to play areas; wheelchair-height tables and trays so that children can use water tables and manipulative materials (Smith, Palloway, Patton, & Dowdy ,2003). Outdoor environment should have wide gates and wide pathways to access all parts of the playground for children in wheelchairs or those with impaired walking ability.
Accommodations in the outdoor environment for physically challenged children have not been easy due to the complexity of play for children with physical challenges. The government tries to provide the required facilities like classrooms, text books, play ground, medical facilities and others but these do not address the challenges of physically challenged children. This is because they encounter challenges and frustration in their day to day school activities due to lack of necessary and relevant equipment or other support services like adapted curriculum, quality mobility devices like wheelchairs and crutches consequently they do not benefit fully from the school system (Kamere, 2004).
Parents bear a great deal of responsibility in raising a physically challenged child.
Discovery that a child has a physical challenge is usually traumatizing for the family which is the first environment where the child learns several basic skills. Therefore, the response of the parents determines whether the family is going to support the child or not in providing play and learning materials. Gallagher and Bristol (1990) found out that there were approximately twice as many divorces in families with physically challenged children as in families with children of similar age without disabilities. This is due to the significant greater stress that is experienced by both parents which may contribute to increased tendency for child abuse. In families children with physical challenges are seen as financial drain because of the necessary medical, social, and special educational services. This in turn can cause several conflicts within the family and even separation. With such conflict the special child may not receive the support the need to help them cope with their disability.
In supporting children with physical challenges parents may tend to be overprotective however a compromise has to be worked out between too much and too little independence. Holistic development of the child should be a governing factor while supporting the child. According to (Canadian Council on Learning,2006) play nourishes every aspect of children development and forms a foundation for development of intellectual, social, physical and emotional skills necessary for success in school and life paving way for learning. Therefore, parents who are primary caregivers ought to support play and learning of their children with physical challenges to enhance holistic development. The support would be possible if parents have developed a positive attitude toward the child with physical challenges.
The extents to which parents accept the child with physical a challenge and encourage self-reliance promote a positive attitude in the child toward play and learning activities (Taub, 2006). If parents find the child to be very helpless they do not provide materials for play due to the belief that children with physical challenges cannot play like the normal ones consequently neglecting their play needs as well as their play needs. This will mean that parents may not be bothered with finding out how to support the child while in school consequently hindering holistic development.
According to Education Bureau(2008) Parents are expected to do the following in support of their children in school; Maintain contact with the school for suitable arrangements for their children in classroom setting such as going up and down the classroom, their participation in the physical education lessons and the arrangement of appropriate desks and chairs for study. Such an involvement ensures that movement of the child within the classroom is taken care of , children participate in outdoor activities and learning facilities are adapted therefore making it possible for the child to learn and play.
Parents are also expected to encourage their children to try their best to do the homework in a neat and tidy way even though their hands are not quick. Any little progress should be acknowledged to motivate them (Bandura, 1977). Changes in the health state of their children should be communicated as soon as possible to the school because if the child health condition is not clear to the teacher he or she can judge wrongly the child abilities. Parents can also approach the school for supporting their children whenever necessary. However, this kind of involvement of parents in school life of their children is rare.
To enhance the participation of parents in the roles identified above they must develop a right attitude toward the child. Proper attitude can be indicated by the following parental roles. Accepting children with physical disabilities unconditionally, understanding their limitations and degree of disabilities and provide them with learning opportunities to maximize their mobility and develop their intellectual and social potential (Sciarra, 2004). Share the responsibility among family members for taking care of the children with physical disabilities. Let the children with physical disability take up responsibilities to their ability. Avoid excessive indulgence and inducing unnecessary dependence. Treat the children with physical disability in the same way as other children. Do not overwhelmingly attend to them and neglect all other children leading to unpleasant feelings. Also parents should maintain contacts with parents of other children with physical disabilities and related agencies for sharing experiences and learning skills of parenting and supporting the children. Nevertheless, this does not happen with most of the parents more often the opposite of the identified roles takes place for example little effort is put to maximize learning opportunities of children with physical challenges. Also while connecting with agencies supporting children with physical challenges parents look for financial support which is rarely forthcoming rather than information on how they can effectively support their children.
Research shows that family involvement improves outcomes for our children and provides opportunities for lifelong success as adults. If we want today’s children to be thinking, healthy, well-adjusted adults and productive citizens of tomorrow’s communities, then parents must commit themselves in provision of play and learning materials for children in school. According to (Epstein,2008) the main reason for co-operation between parents and teachers should be to help all young children succeed in school and in later life.
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