Implementation Of Play Activities And Its Effects On Learners' Academic Performance in Public Early Childhood Development Centres

A Case Study Of West Pokot County, Kenya


Master's Thesis, 2013

143 Pages, Grade: 4.00


Excerpt

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Inhaltsverzeichnis

DEDICATION

TABLE OF CONTENTS

LIST OF TABLES

LIST OF FIGURES

ABSTRACT

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

DEFINITIONS OF TERMS

ABBREVIATIONS

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
1.1 Introduction
1.2 Background of the study
1.3 Statement of the problem
1.4 Purpose of the study
1.5 Objectives of the study
1.6 Research questions
1.7 Research hypotheses
1.8 Rationale of the study
1.9 Scope of the study
1.10 Limitations of the study
1.11 Assumptions of the study
1.12 Theoretical Framework
1.13 Conceptual framework

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Availability of functional play facilities in ECDE on learners academic performance
2.3 Frequency of learners’ participation in PE as time tabled in ECDE
2.4 Teachers’ approaches of teaching play activities in ECDE
2.5 The Challenges encountered in teaching of play activities in ECDE
2.6 Summary
2.7 Knowledge gap

CHAPTER THREE

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
3.1 Introduction
3.2 Research design
3.3 Research site
3.4 Target population
3.5 Sample size
3.6 Data collection methods
3.6.1 Questionnaire
3.6.2 Interview schedule for head teachers
3.6.3 Observation schedule
3.7 Validity and reliability of the research instruments
3.7.1 Validity of the research instrument
3.7.2 Reliability of the research instruments
3.7.3 Instrument Piloting
3.8 Data collection procedure
3.8.1 Data analysis
3.9 Ethical considerations

CHAPTER FOUR

DATA ANALYSIS, PRESENTATION, DISCUSSION, AND INTERPRETATION
4.1 Introduction
4.2 Background information
4.2.1 Gender
4.2.2 Age bracket
4.2.3 Teaching class
4.2.4 Class size
4.2.5 Level of education
4.2.6 Teaching experience
4.3. Functional play facilities on academic performance in ECDE
4.3.1 Availability of play facilities in ECDE
4.3.2 Adequacy of play facilities
4.4 Frequency of taking learners for PE as timetabled in ECDE
4.5 Teachers approaches of teaching play activities on learners academic performance in ECDE
4.5.1 Extent of usage of teaching approaches
4.6 Challenges encountered in teaching play activities in ECDE
4.7 Academic performance of learners in ECDE
4.8 Hypotheses testing

CHAPTER FIVE

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Summary of findings
5.2.1 Availability of functional play facilities on learner’s academic performance
5.2.2 Frequency of learner’s participation in PE as timetabled on learners’ academic performance in ECDE
5.2.3 Teacher’s approach of teaching play activities on learner’s academic performance in ECDE
5.2.4 Implementation challenges encountered in teaching of play activities in ECDE
5.3 Conclusion
5.4 Recommendations
5.5 Suggestion for further studies

REFERENCES

APPENDIX A: COVER LETTER

APPENDIX B: THE QUESTIONNAIRE FOR PRE SCHOOL TEACHERS

APPENDIX C: INTERVIEW SCHEDULE FOR HEAD TEACHERS

APPENDIX D: OBSERVATION SCHEDULE OF THE SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT

DEDICATION

This work is dedicated to the Almighty God, my dear mother Racheal Andiema for financial and moral encouragement, our children Ian and Michelle for their support and prayers throughout my study period.

LIST OF TABLES

Table 3.1: Target population

Table 3.2: Sample frame

Table 4.1: Availability of functional play facilities in ECDE

Table 4.2: Availability of play facilities

Table 4.3: Adequacy of play facilities

Table 4.4: Frequency of learners’ participation in PE as timetabled in ECDE

Table 4.5: Teachers approaches of teaching play activities in ECDE

Table 4.6: Extent of usage of teaching approaches in ECDE

Table 4.7: Challenges encountered in teaching play activates in ECDE

Table 4.8: Learners’ academic performance

Table 4.9: Relationship between availability of functional play facilities and academic performance

Table 4.10: Relationship between frequency of learner’s participation in PE as timetabled and academic performance

Table 4.11: Relationship between the teaching approaches and academic performance

LIST OF FIGURES

Figure 1.1: Conceptual Framework on the Effects of Play Activities Implementation on Learners’ Academic Performance

Figure 4.1: Gender of respondents

Figure 4.2: Age bracket of the respondents

Figure 4.3: Teaching class

Figure 4.4: Class size

Figure 4.5: Level of education

Figure 4.6: Teaching experience

ABSTRACT

Play serves an important process for promoting children’s learning and development besides enhancing emotional, intellectual and social skills of the child. It’s the teacher’s role in ECDE to set up environment that facilitate play experiences. The main purpose of this study was to establish the effects of play activities’ implementation on learner’s academic performance in Pokot County. The specific objectives of this study were to: examine the availability of functional play facilities, establish frequency of learners’ participation in PE as time tabled in ECDE, investigate teacher’s approach of teaching play activities and investigate the challenges encountered in teaching of play activities in ECDE. A descriptive survey design was adopted. The study was guided by the social interaction theory of Vygotsky (1978), as cited by Christie & Roskos, (2009). The target population was derived from all the 417 public ECDE canters in Pokot County. The respondents were sampled through the use of stratified, simple random and purposive sampling and a sample size of 90 teachers and 16 head teachers was obtained. Questionnaires, observation and interview schedules were used as instruments of data collection. Data obtained from pilot testing was analyzed to test for reliability and validity. The data obtained was analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics which involved measures of central tendency, measures of dispersion and Pearson Correlation and presented using charts and tables. The study findings indicated that 68.7 percent ECDE Centers had inadequate playgrounds and furthermore 62.5 percent ECDE centres are not provided with instructional materials required. Similarly, ECDE Centres use PE time for other activities. Notwithstanding, teachers do not engage and participate with the children in the playfields. Teachers faced several challenges such as lack of adequate play facilitate in schools. The study recommended that the government should conduct in service courses for teachers on the importance of the need to use play activities. It is hoped that, this study will provide valuable insights to education stakeholders on the factors influencing the implementation of play activities in ECDE curriculum. Teachers will benefit from the study in that; they are likely to acquire information to guide them on the need to sharpen their skills in dealing with challenges of curriculum implementation.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

There are many people who have made this humble effort a success. This I owe them debts of gratitude. I am particularly grateful to my supervisor Dr. Joseph Lelan for his constant advice and guidance that has made this work a possibility. I highly take this opportunity to acknowledge the contribution of individuals who assisted me in the thesis writing without forgetting close and well wishers of which without their support and unceasing encouragement and I would have not done this. Finally, to the almighty God, I thank him for Leading me through my studies and strengthening me whenever I felt weak.

DEFINITIONS OF TERMS

Academic Performance: According to Anderson & Krathwohl (2008) is defined as a demonstration of a student’s level of competence and mastery of a subject through completion of multiple tests of competence in a particular domain of education. For the purpose of this study, academic performance refers to how learners deal with their studies and how they copy or accomplish different tasks given by their teachers.

Activity: According to Rubin (2010) an activity that is done simply for the enjoyment of the physical sensation it creates. Generally speaking, the child engages in simple motor activities. In this study, it means the extent of usage of the available play materials by ECDE learners in school.

Implementation: According to Fixsen, Naoom, Blasé, Friedman, & Wallace (2013) Implementation is defined as a specified set of activities designed to put into practice an activity or program of known dimensions. While in this study, implementation is putting in practice of play activities in ECDE.

Play activities: According to Pokot cultural context, it refers to all activities such traditional survival skills as sporting, cattle rustling and nomadism, herding, fruit gathering, milking, bee keeping, drumming, bird nesting, that the young child will apply either directly or indirectly in life when he/she grows. Young children will be eager to relate play activities with concepts with these cultural practices in ECDE classrooms.

Play According to National Play Policy (NCO) (2004) play has been defined as the ‘freely chosen, personally directed, and intrinsically motivated behaviour that actively engages the child’.’In this study play means the activities learners engage in while learning in the classroom and outside in the playground.

Teaching approach According to Richards & Rodgers (2007) teaching approach refers to an approach, design and a procedure in teaching. In this study teaching methods refer to approaches, designs and procedures in teaching comprising the principles and methods for instruction.

ABBREVIATIONS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY

1.1 Introduction

The chapter contains background of the study, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research objectives, and research questions, rational, scope of the study, limitation of the study, the conceptual framework and the assumptions of the study.

1.2 Background of the study

The role of play in supporting children’s development of ‘metacognitive’ and self-regulatory abilities is also an area of recent research development. Metacognitive abilities worry our developing awareness of our own cognitive and emotional processes and expansion of policies to control them. It is now clearly established that children begin to develop this awareness and control very early in life, that important individual differences are quickly established which have long-lasting results for attainment and well-being, that these abilities are learnt, and can be taught, and that the various types of play form a powerful context for their development (Whitebread, 2010).

Play is multifaceted, and the complexity lies in the many different ways in which children play. It is also a natural part of a child’s life, with many opportunities to engage in play and work together with peers (Whitebread, 2011). The power of play was recognized long ago by education. The significant importance of play was seen in young children’s development as documented in Childs psychology, sociology, and anthropology and in the frameworks of recreation, communication and education (Frost, 2010)

The best mode for learners learning and development was considered to be important field in the United States. Play was considered to be a very important vehicle for the self-regulation, development and for promoting language, social competence and cognitive development of learners in ECD (NAEYC), National Association for the Education of Young children, Copple and Bredekamp, 2009).

According to the Swedish National Curriculum for Preschool (Ministry of Education and Sciences, (MOES), 2006), play is a vital concept in the Swedish curriculum that aims to cultivate children as persons and learners. The current national curriculum states: Play is a vital activity in the Swedish Curriculum that helps to cultivate children as persons and learners. The current national curriculum states play as a useful tool for learner development and learning. Proper use of play promotes the development and growth of all individual learners in ECD. Play stimulates the imagination, communication, insight and even the ability to solve problems, cooperation and even bring enjoyment to the learner. The imaginary games, of the learners, creativity and feelings of the child can only be expressed through play, activities opportunities in the classroom or home setup.

In Japan for instance, the value of play in ECD as stated in the National curriculum standards for kindergarten (NCSK). Play is enjoyable activity for all learners when learning because it’s through it that, learners cultivate a base of a balanced mind and fine and gross motor development (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, MECSST, 2000).

In Zimbabwe a large number of play centres crèches and playgrounds were established to provide custodial service for children while mothers engage in community project (Dozva, 2009). Further, play stimulates brain growth of a child, function and has a key role in building the base, organization, and capabilities of the brain. Studies in Kenya by Sinyei (2012), states that, parent, teachers and school managers are increasingly giving too much attention to excellent academic achievement in national examinations in Kenya. A lot of emphasis is now on rote learning and memorization to reproduce the learnt concepts without a clear understanding of the concepts learnt. This practice has trickled down to the preschool institutions. It is perhaps on the realization of the importance of play activities in ECDE that the Kenya Government therefore, needs to ensure that best practices are developed in the ECDE settings to ensure effective learning to produce all-round learners. This can best be achieved through effective implementation of the various ECDE curriculum activity areas especially those which are play-centred. Play activities improve the working capacity of crucial body systems and improve the degree of alertness. It is believed that physically and mentally alert students perform well in their studies.

In order to provide services for children, pre-school teachers are expected to be guided by and use the ECD policy framework as a foundation for improved service delivery to preschool children (Republic of Kenya, 2006). The ECD policy framework is based on principles that are universally accepted as forming the cornerstone of quality early childhood development services and programs by ensuring that the holistic needs of young children are met to maximize the realization of their full potential. In order for pre-school teachers to provide these facilities, they should be guided by a framework that defines appropriate play facilities for all children. It was against this background that the researcher investigated the effect of play activities’ implementation on learners’ academic performance in public ECDE in Pokot County.

1.3 Statement of the problem

Play activities of ECDE learners is one of the most important activities in the development of mental, physical, social, emotional and intellectual skills of the learners. Teachers are expected to implement play activities to learners to the latter. However, in Pokot County, it has been observed that implementation of play activities of ECDE children appears to be an important issue of research and the concern for the study. When one visits a school he or she can find learners playing on their own unattended. This scenario applies to many ECDE centres in the county, leaving one to wonder what could be wrong with the implementation process. It is against this background that the researcher sought to find out the effect of implementation of play activities in Pokot County does not meet the developmental requirements thus affecting mental, physical, social, emotional and intellectual needs of the learners. A child who acquires a balance of all the developmental stages is likely to perform well academically.

1.4 Purpose of the study

The main purpose of this study is to establish the effect of play activities implementation on learners’ academic performance in public ECDE in Pokot County.

1.5 Objectives of the study

The study was guided by the following specific research objectives:

1. To investigate the availability of functional play facilities on learners academic performance in ECDE in Pokot County.
2. To establish the frequency of learners participation in PE on learners academic performance in ECDE.
3. To examine the teacher’s approach of teaching play activities on learner’s academic performance in ECDE.
4. To establish the implementation challenges encountered in teaching of play activities in ECDE.

1.6 Research questions

The study sought to answer the following research questions.

1. What kind of functional play facilities are available in ECDE in Pokot County?
2. How often are learners taken out for play activities as timetabled?
3. Which approaches do teachers use in teaching play activities in ECDE?
4. What challenges are encountered in teaching and learning of play activities in ECDE?

1.7 Research hypotheses

The study formulated and tested the following null hypotheses.

H01 There is no significant relationship between availability of functional play facilities and academic performance in ECDE in Pokot County.

H02 There is no significant relationship between frequency of learner’s participation in PE as timetabled and academic performance in ECDE in Pokot County.

H03 There is no significant relationship between teaching approaches and academic performance in ECDE in Pokot County.

1.8 Rationale of the study

It is expected that, this study will provide an all round development of the child in terms of physical, mental, social and emotional development. Implementation of play activities will keep the child active and this will be reflected in the learning process. The study will provide a solution for the saying “Too much work and no play makes John a dull boy” This can be attained when play activities are implemented to the latter.

The recommendations made will shed some insights to the government, head teachers of primary schools, development partners and the communities on the factors influencing the implementation of play activities in ECDE curriculum. Teachers will benefit from the study in that; they are likely to acquire more information to guide them on implementation approaches for ECDE play activities. They need to continuously sharpen their skills as the encounter challenges of curriculum implementation especially in ECDE play activities.

In addition, the study will assist education planners and quality assurance officers to assess the teaching of play activities so that better results can be attained especially in Pokot county ECDE centres where the implementation is actually wanting. Further, the knowledge from this study will not only be useful to the schools in the study area but also to other ECDE Centres, teachers, and administrators in incorporating the suggestions given. Notwithstanding the research findings will be significant for future researchers in the same field as they generalize the results to other areas.

1.9 Scope of the study

The study was specifically conducted within the sixteen (16) public ECDE centres in Pokot County. The respondents comprised of the head teachers and teachers totalling to 106 respondents. Stratified random sampling technique was applied in order to select the respondents. The study was limited to the teaching staff since they are placed in strategic positions of implementing the curriculum. The study was purposely designed to investigate on the effect of play activities’ implementation on learner’s academic performance in public ECDE centres. The main factors were effects of availability of play facilities, effects of frequency of learners’ participation in PE as timetabled, effects of teachers’ approaches of teaching play activities and challenges encountered in teaching play activities in ECDE. Data collected from the views of head teachers and teachers were coded, analyzed and recorded. The study was conducted between May and June, 2013.

1.10 Limitations of the study

The reliability of the information obtained largely depended on the attitudes of the respondents. Some may have given wrong information which may have limited the accuracy of the findings. Triangulation of the research methods helped to overcome this limitation. Owing to the same constrain the study only used questionnaires, interview schedules and observation schedules to collect data. Since this study was limited to Pokot County, generalizing the findings to the entire country could be difficult; because schools in different regions experience diverse socio-cultural, geographical and economic circumstance, remoteness of some schools.’ Terrain of some areas was complex forcing the researcher to walk long distance. Some schools in North Pokot start their lessons early in the morning and break at noon forcing the researcher to use research assistants. The migratory behaviour of the pastoralists within the area of study distorted the statistics of distributing questionnaires to the desired sample creating methodological problem in sampling. To overcome this, the researcher adopted descriptive survey design and used stratification in sampling the respondents which reduced biasness in collecting data. Similarly, the collected data was analyzed accordingly .Some teachers were not conversant with ECDE issues. The researcher highlighted to them ECDE policy and they were able to fill the questionnaires. Certain schools have ethical issues for example not allowing their teachers to interact with visitors. The researcher sought permission from the authorities’ before meeting the teachers.

In some schools the teachers were not open enough to fill in the questionnaire, others claimed to be too busy. They had negative perceptions about the information given as they feared victimization. The researcher took time to persuade them and clarified that the exercise was mainly for academic purposes. During the interview, some of the head teachers were not at ease while giving out the information about their respective schools, until they were assured of confidentiality and that the exercise was specifically for research purposes. Reliability and validity of research instrument might not be 100 percent. The researcher used triangulation of instruments so as to enhance the reliability & validity of the findings. They had to be persistently persuaded.

1.11 Assumptions of the study

The study was based on the following assumptions; teachers and head teachers from the various ECDE Centres co-operated in filling questionnaires and answering oral interview questions and provided reliable information to enhance the study. The portion of the population in which the research was carried out were representative of the target population, the research instruments yielded good results and the researcher was objectives Not Sure and capable of maintaining a significant degree of detachment from the subject of the research. Teachers keep professional records. It is therefore hoped that its validity in education setting is acceptable.

1.12 Theoretical Framework

The study adopted Vygotsky, (1978) as cited by Christie & Roskos, (2009) social interaction learning theory which states that, play is primary source of development. The theory has its origin in social interaction and it is then internalized. Teachers and adults should mediate and help support learners as they attempt to understand the World. For example a teacher introduces the lesson with a song and actions which makes the lesson interesting therefore capturing ECDE learners’ attention. The mediating adults assisted the process cognitive development as the children gradually construct knowledge. Further, the child learns some concepts from direct experiences without instruction. Other concepts are learned in school and represent a body of knowledge from past generations; this type of knowledge cannot be acquired from individual experiences but requires the social context of the school and instruction from the teachers.

Vygotsky social constructivist theory points on how learners make learning real by transforming information from the previous knowledge gained and use it in their day to day activities. The content of this knowledge is influenced by the culture in which the students live which includes languages, beliefs and skills. He stress that teachers should create many opportunities for students to learn with Teacher closely monitor learner perspectives, thinking and feelings social play and interaction. The classroom environment and the physical content reflect learner interests and are infused with their culture.

In support of social interaction theory Willis & Hymon-Parker (2010) argues that play is how young children learn and assimilate new things into what they already know. Children learn about diversity through play, including music, clothing, foods, games, celebrations, and dramatic play. In this study children should be provided with playing materials as a way of enhancing their play. Teachers and parents are required to provide playing materials to their children so as to help them get engaged in meaningful play which influence their social skills and development. In Pokot County, most schools had play materials in their natural set ups which could be improvised and made use in play activities lessons.

1.13 Conceptual framework

The figure 1.1 below indicates that play activities are crucial in learning especially in ECDE centres. When a learner is actively involved in her/his learning, he/she is more likely to truly connect with the materials and remember the concept for long period of time.

Teacher’s involvement in play enriches children’s play and develops children’s intellectual and social skills. The researcher investigated on the effects of play activities implementation on learner’s academic performance. The Dependent variable is learner’s academic performance. The independent variables are availability of functional play facilities in Pokot County that can be observed in schools and if the school administration budget for these facilities. These facilities are crucial for the improvement of the academic performance of learners. Frequencies of learners’ participation in play activities as time tabled in ECDE; the observable number of lessons learned per week should be adhered in the school timetable.

In addition, teacher’s approaches of teaching play activities where demonstration and role play were the most appropriate methods of teaching play activities in ECDE. On the challenges encountered in teaching of play activities, teachers’ attitude could negatively influence the teaching of play activities; most teachers see it as a waste of time. The time that a child is allowed to play using different types of play activities may influence either positively or negatively a child’s brain development and hence academic performance.

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Source: Author (2013)

Figure 1.1: Conceptual Framework on the Effects of Play Activities Implementation on Learners’ Academic Performance

CHAPTER TWO

LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Introduction

This chapter discuss the literature related to the study organized by research objective and end with research gap.

2.2 Availability of functional play facilities in ECDE on learners academic performance

A report by Common Wealth of Australia (2008) points out that there should be ample playground facilities, access to play tools and at the same time, teachers should be encouraged to undertake physical activities. According to Sabbi, Boating & Hammond (2010), teachers are unable to employ pre-scholars in play activities because, play facilities are not available, and pre-schools lack leisure facilities, play materials and physical infrastructure. Equipment, materials and experiences planned should allow for a variety of kinds of movement for development of motor skills, natural features such as horizontal tree trunks, rope structures and temporary arrangement for physical challenges. Broaden the possibilities for play activities.

Studies of children’s drawing demonstrated how through drawing children gradually increase their graphic vocabularies, and their abilities to organize graphic elements into a pictorial representation (a kind of graphic grammar) becoming increasing table to use this mode of symbolic representation to express their meanings (Jolley & Reng, 2010). The evidence from these studies suggests that children’s visual literacy (i.e. their ability to understand pictures, photographs, diagrams, scale models, plans maps.

Lowhon & Cobby, (2009) moreover states that, a variety of skills may be developed when children are engaged in the latter set of activities, the class wide patterns of not selecting or engaging in instructional literacy or science activities is troublesome because ECD researchers have emphasized the importance of exposure to books and science experiences as precursors to the development of literacy, mathematics and problem solving skills. Hanley, cammilleri, Tiger & Ingvarsson (2008) points that engagement of materials in instructional, literacy and science zone were consistently low compared to children engagement in dramatic play, computer, blocks, manipulative (e.g. table top building toys), games and art activities.

Smith & Pellegrin, (2008) highlights that, nursery staff can work with children to structure their play and give it more education value by including activities such as jig jaw puzzles, colours and pattern matching games and materials like water, sand and clay that children can manipulate and by enhancing socio-dramatic play. Playing a game is away to guide children who have the basic knowledge about the world and thus knowledge. Open them away to the language, art, social science, mathematics and physics they will learn (Korkmaz, 2010). Child play has many opportunities for learning, but there is no guarantee that children learn all they need to know through play providing opportunities for children to choose among well planned, varied learning activities enhances the probability that they learn through play (Kari, et al., 2011).

The influence of play on children’s developing cognitive capacities, including the skills has been emphasized by both Piaget, (1962) and Vygotsky, (1978) as cited in (Christie, 2010). Guantlett et al., (2010) states that, children need wide play environments that are spacious and enabling the interaction that takes place during playing traditional games in limited space mostly develop into another form of play and emotional encounters such as pinching and pushing each other.

Guantlett et al., (2010) As regards stimulation, within indoor, environments, this is mostly related to the provision of play materials and toys which support play. It has been established for some time, through a number of studies that access to a variety of materials and toys related to children’s cognitive development. Well established materials and toys support play most effectively when they are open and flexible and provide children with wealth of opportunities for creativity for social interaction with their peers and adults, for authorship and for deep engagement. Resources in form of play objects, space and time are very important in pre-primary classrooms because the level and type of children’s play depend mostly on the availability of these resources.

Further, Lonnie (2010) argued that musical play is another very important area form of play in all human cultures. From a very early age children sing, dance and delight in exploring and making sounds of all kinds with their own bodies and with all kinds of objects. (Pound, 2010) This seems likely that musical play, partly as a consequence of its powerfully social and interactive characteristic, supports a wide range of children’s developing abilities, including those related to social interaction and communication. Kirschner & Tomasello (2010) showed that these children had a significant increased successive spontaneous cooperative and helpful behaviour, relative to a carefully matched control condition with the same level of social and linguistic interaction but not music.

Hanley & Tiger (2011) in his recent descriptive study of preschoolers’ free-play patterns showed that choice and commitment of materials in instructional, literacy, and science zones were constantly low compared to children’s engagement in dramatic play, computers, blocks, manipulative (example table-top building toys), games, and art activities. Although a variety of skills may be developed when children are engaged in the latter set of activities, the class wide pattern of not selecting or engaging in instructional, literacy, or science activities is troublesome because early childhood researchers have emphasized the importance of contact to books and science experiences as antecedents to the development of literacy, mathematics, and problem-solving skills. Free choice or free play period are common preschool activities characterized by child initiated engagement and social interaction Free play periods provide children with a variety of simultaneously available activities that are presumably consistent with their interest and abilities (Kirschner & Tomasello, 2010).

Hanley & Tiger (2011) confirm one strategy to promote selection of important but less preferred activities is to limit access to children’s most preferred activities. For instance, limiting access to dramatic play, computers, and blocks might increase participation in other activities. A more acceptable alternative, which retains the preferred activities during free play, is to provide prolonged access to preferred activities in an attempt to decrease subsequent participation in those activities due to satiation or habituation. By decreasing the amount of time spent interacting with preferred free-play activities, such a procedure might also indirectly increase the amount of time spent in originally less preferred activities.

In addition, Hanley et al., (2009) states that, a more straight and potentially more acceptable plan would be to focus on increasing the relative value of the originally less preferred activities recently described a strategy to increase the variety of classroom activity engagement. Extra teacher interaction was provided when children selected activities that were different from those they had selected during previous choice opportunities. This arrangement was successful in promoting varied activity selections with 2 children who had previously displayed stereotypic activity selection during free play. Although this strategy promotes varied activity selections, it does not necessarily increase time allocation to specific activities. Embedding highly reinforcing materials or interactions in selected activities is an alternative strategy for promoting engagement in those activities.

Further Hanley et al., (2009) cited that there were strategies that had been applied to adults with disabilities to change favourite for both table-top free time activities for example puzzles, drawing, sewing and protracted leisure and work activities. However, the use of implanted reinforcement to redirect activity choices within groups of preschoolers has not yet been assessed. A study on working conditions in urban pre-schools indicated that environment had both positive and negative effects on teacher confidence, personal comfort, and feelings of effectiveness in the classroom, and on learning environment of pupils.

Further the environment was reported to have more effects on teachers. Problems with working conditions are serious enough to interrupt on the work of teachers resulting in higher absenteeism, reduced levels of effort and lower effectiveness in the classroom, low morale, and reduced job satisfaction (Hanley , et al., 2009). Good working conditions may result in enthusiasm, high morale, cooperation, and acceptance of responsibility by teachers. However, crowded classroom conditions may not only make it difficult for learners to concentrate on their lessons, but inevitably it limits the amount of time teachers can spend on innovative teaching methods.

Activity sampling could be achieved through direct teacher prompts to attend various activities. Alternatively, procedures that reinforces children’s selection of diverse activities (Hanley , et al., 2009) could be implemented intermittently (e.g. once per week) to ensure explosive and activity sampling. In addition, Rivera-Batiz & Marti, (2009) indicated that teachers must struggle in order to maintain order in overcrowded classrooms. This increases the likelihood that teachers will suffer from stress earlier than it might otherwise be the case. Overcrowding in schools is a serious problem in many school systems, particularly in cities, where space for new construction is limited. As a result, students find themselves trying to learn while stuck into spaces that are not intended for use as classrooms.

Play facilities and materials in children’s play add value to the play. Children learn best when they are part of a secure and stimulating environment full of materials for manipulation. Mahindu (2011) examined the effect that selected play materials have on certain aspects of children’s development. He used 36 children ranging in age from 2 – 3 years. Each child was engaged in different play materials. The result revealed that children who had used a variety of play things had developed better than those who were not exposed to a variety of material. The discourse of boys and girls was similar but boys tended to initiate more topics during play than did girls. Children should be provided with playing materials as a way of enhancing their play. Teachers and parents are required to provide playing materials to their children so as to help them get engaged in meaningful play which influence their social and skills development.

In addition, pre-primary schools in Kenya, if observed, children of all ages could be found in these educational setting (UNESCO, 2010) in such circumstances, the older children may tend to dominate the younger children during play activities. (Rowe, 2013), children may have inadequate opportunities to represent their ideas during symbolic play, since they are many in the classrooms and children who are older control the accessible toys. When children keep on fighting over toys during play, teachers may spend a great of time resolving conflicts and may not be able to interact and develop children’s interest.

High-quality pretend play has repeatedly been shown to be very closely associated with the development of cognitive, social and academic abilities. Studies have reported that the impact of play world experience. By placing basic numeracy, meaningful, real life contexts play involving converting and other basic mathematical operations similarly support young children’s ability to engage with formal mathematics with confidence (Whitebread, 2011). In Pokot county, the environment is very rich with grass, stones, sticks, pebbles, drums, whistles and horns amongst others. When these materials are incorporated in the teaching and learning of play activities, the learners could internalize the concepts more because they are familiar with these materials. The researcher therefore investigated the availability of functional play materials in ECDE centres in Pokot County.

2.3 Frequency of learners’ participation in PE as time tabled in ECDE

Luke & McArdle, (2009) emphasizes that, PE class enrolment has remained static with also the time learners spend play has declining in ECDE. Most ECDE schools do not attain the amount of PE time recommended by experts. Lester & Russell (2008) noted lack of available data examining children’s use of time and space, and therefore exploring whether children’s time to play has increased or decreased in the UK is difficult to track. However, evidence from the US suggests that today’s children have significantly less time for free play than previous generations.

Hofferth (2009) looked at children’s changing play guides across two time frames; between 1981 and 1997; and between 1997 and 2003. Parents and children kept 24-hour diaries (one for a school day and one for a non-school day) and monitored the amount of time children spent in 18 different activities. The findings point out that children’s free play and discretionary time (in other words, time that is not spent in school, childcare and so on) has declined by more than seven hours from 1981 to 1997 and by a further two hours to 2003. The researchers conclude that children in the US are receiving nine hours less free time a week than 25 years ago (Hofferth, 2009).

According to Hanley (2013), teachers to increase the virtual value of the originality less favoured activities, a strategy to increase the variety of classroom activity engagement. Extra teacher interaction was provided when children select activities that were different from those they had selected during previous choice opportunities. In addition, Bailey, Dismore & Morley (2009) argue that, as our modern lifestyle makes opportunities for energy expenditure through transport and active play less likely, promoting P.A amongst children becomes a challenge. In the past 30-40 years it has become more difficult for children to achieve energy balance. There is strong evidence of negative health implications accruing from physically inactive lifestyle in youth centre for disease control and prevention. Children traditional playgrounds their gardens, streets and vacant spaces are often less accessible than in the past (Evans, 2011).

Further, Evans, (2011), considerable benefits to maximizing the opportunities available to children to be physically active in play activities time and to stimulating children to be physically active who might otherwise choose not to be 50 children at play activities time should be free to play as they so wish without endangering themselves or others play at break time is not without adult presence and supervision but teachers want children to be independent, to make their own decisions and to play together. Play in children reduces risk of coronary heart disease, mortality, decreased risk of stroke, excessive weight and obesity Diseases as cancers, diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, anxiety and depression (Hanley et al., 2009). Regular play activities in childhood strengthen bone and connective tissue and yields greater maximum bone density in adult life, help develop coordination and fundamental movement skills and controls psychological feelings such as anxiety and depression and enhances self esteem (Evans, 2011).

According to White bread & Jameson (2010), teachers are encouraged to use pretend play in their lessons, pretense play on deductive reasoning and social competence, and of social dramatic play on improved self regulation among young children who are prone to be high impulsive. Teachers should try to use play with rules as well as helping children to develop their understanding about rules the main developmental contribution of playing games derives from their essential social nature while, playing games with their friends, siblings and parents. Young children are learning a range of social skills related to sharing taking turns, understanding others”. Perspective and so on (De Vries & Kamii, 2011)

Hardman (2008) argue that in Kenya, there has been a decline and/or marginalization of physical education in schools with perceived deficiencies in programme time distribution, subject status, material, human and financial resources, gender and disability issues and the quality of program delivery. Despite national policy concerning required, prescribed, and recommended guidelines on local levels of actual control of curriculum time allocation, there is variations between schools and, therefore, difficulties in specifying Definitive figures for the Country. However, some general tendencies are identifiable for example; across primary school years there is an average 94 minutes with a range of 30 – 180 minutes per week.

By analyzing children’s play through these questions, teachers can get clues for guidance of play. Play observation provides important understanding about children’s social worlds, observation reveals what help, if any, children need to develop and extend their play (Tarman & Tarman, 2011). With regard to time, Frost (2010) argued that if more time is assigned to play children can explore in–depth whatever meanings are to be developed during play because they will be able to create meaningful pretend frames. As play in its varied forms is a serious business for children (Craig & Dunn, 2009) Children’s healthy progress depends on sufficient time, space and chance to play (International Play Association, (IPA), 2008). It is only when teachers allocate ample time and space for children’s play that they can engage in receptive interactions with children as they play. The varying availability of school physical education facilities influences the provision of physical education in schools and has the potential to cause inequalities.

According to Christie (2010) stated that, provision of adequate physical spaces and props to sustain play as well as the need to allow sufficient time for children’s free play in the preschool daily schedule. Physical play improves strength endurance and balance. According to Tarman & Tarman, (2011) if literacy enriched settings, adequate time and facilitative teacher involvement are in place, socio-dramatic play can function as an ideal medium for children to construct their own knowledge about literacy, since its ‘low –risk’ atmosphere encourages experimentation with emergent forms of reading and writing (Tarman & Tarman, 2011). Despite these benefits, Lester & Russel, (2008) added that, there is evidence to suggest less of children’s time is being devoted to play, in favour of structured or educational activities.

Elkind (2008) claims the role of play in physical and psychological well-being has been ‘overlooked’ in many areas. He states: School managers and teachers often supported by politicians and parents show unsuitable messages that days play seems excessive and that play is for idlers. However, if learners need to play, they should at least learn something while they are doing it (Elkind, 2008). Veitch, Salmon & Ball (2010) states that children may spend their time in a number of different settings, research suggests that children’s own definition of ‘free time’ involves time spent away from adult supervision. Children need free play at home and at school. The time assigned for free play at school is known as recess. Recess is defined as a break time during the school day that allows children the time for active free play. Unstructured and undirected are two key components of recess.

On the basis of the literatures and as stated by the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE), schools break should be provided at least once daily, for a 20 minutes. Break provides children with discretionary time and opportunities to engage in physical activity. The most obvious characteristic of recess is that it constitutes a break from the daily freely routine. Barros (2009) indicates that, by allowing a mental alteration and release of energy, recess may have other benefits for classroom behaviour; students may be more attentive to academic tasks and less fidgety in the classroom afterward. Recess is typically held outdoors and allows children to move . It is a known fact that physical activity improves overall health. Not only does it improve blood circulation, enhance blood flow to the brain, and raise endorphin levels, which all help to decrease stress, improve mood and attitude, and calm children, physically active students may also achieve more academically. Physically fit students are less likely to miss school, partake in risky behaviours, get pregnant, or attempt suicide, which are all associated with improved outcomes in school (Trudeau & Shephard, 2008). Many studies have demonstrated the constructive effects of physical education and physical activity on school performance

A study by King & Sallis (2009) addresses the issue where the implemented program called Project SPARK which provides physical activity during class by including health fitness activities like jump rope and aerobic dance as well as sport fitness activities like soccer and other games and focuses on training teachers to realize the syllabus. The program promotes physical activity outside school and rewards children for engaging in physical activity with their families. The results of this study showed that when teachers were trained to use Project SPARK there were considerable differences between the experimental and control groups in language, reading, and basic battery. This study showed that organized physical education programs can influence student performance even in short term experiments.

According to Republic of Kenya (2006), the ECDE curriculum has undergone major changes over the years .Social and economic changes have occurred which in turn have influenced childcare and socialization. Mothers are often overburdened by the combined responsibilities of childcare, household chores, farming and other livelihood activities. They carry out these activities without support from spouses, older siblings and extended family members. Some mothers are engaged in paid employment, businesses and commercial farming to supplement the family income. Grandmothers, neighbours or house helps are hired to assist with childcare when the mother is away. In Kenya, ECDE curriculum has a stipulated play activities time in the school timetable which should be followed by all schools. The researchers investigated the frequency of taking out learners for play activities as timetabled in ECDE centres in Pokot County.

2.4 Teachers’ approaches of teaching play activities in ECDE

Tsung-Hui & Wei-Ying (2008) illustrates that, ECDE teachers set up appropriate, stimulating environment for young children but decide to stand back and may not follow up with supervision, supportive, reactive interactions with the children as they play. These authors described this as the early childhood error. Some teachers find it difficult to participate in children’s play for fear of disrupting the flow of children’s play activities. Graves, (2008) states that, when a learner is actively involved in her learning, he or she is more likely to truly attach with the materials and remember the idea for a long period of time. Teacher’s participation in play makes learners play more and thus developing their intellectual and social skills further structural cognitive activities add value to children play if they are well utilized by the teachers’ involvement. In social dramatic play training, teacher actively participates in the dramatic play of children by enhancing inside intervention. Thematic fantasy is more structured type of training. In this training adult helps children by dramatizing story through reading stories and assigning roles to the children (Tarman & Tarman, 2011).

Smith, (2008) highlights approaches to early childhood Play activities vary enormously from country to country and raise many questions regarding appropriate strategies for the teacher to employ. The advance advocated builds on early childhood educators’ existing knowledge and understanding, values the role of skilful examination and task design, and is based on methods that sit within holistic views of early childhood education. In particular, the methods discussed are strategies through which the educator can ensure that learning in play activities remains in “the exploratory world of early childhood allowing for the child to develop skills at their own pace through provision of opportunity” This argument has come under sharp focus in recent years where play activities curricula have been designed to have an impact on the perceived obesity crisis and decreasing rates of physical activity among children. Such concerns, subject to significant media attention and policy rhetoric, together with a view that play activities is synonymous with sport, have led some theorists to question the underpinning rationale of play activities particularly that which is delivered for young children.

Jess (2011) points out that, all early childhood educators should therefore take some time to imitate on their own supporting rationale for play activities and their starting points for planning lessons. Sport, with its adult-relevant rules and regulations, competitive structures, methods, and coaching, is not the best vehicle for teaching young children. Enhanced starting point may be to build on the broader role of movement in the lives of children, using play and the seemingly natural desire of young children to move within interactive, collaborative, physical, and multisensory approaches to learning. While playing traditional games, three to four years old children become fascinated with sounds such as songs, chants and rhymes. They enjoy non sensual rhyming patterns. Play type is related to language growth in that the ability to sing and rhyme is highly correlated with early speaking and reading achievements in children (Bergen & Williams, 2008).

Further, Mills & McCarroll (2010) caution teachers have to watch what children are doing, support their efforts and contribute thoughtfully in order to support additional learning. Thus, teachers can take part in children’s play activities by being sensitive to children’s needs. Furthermore, teachers are expected to plan activities such as role-plays, sports and games that strengthen children’s health and the process of socialization (UNESCO, 2006). Young children need to be encouraged and appreciated. Teachers need to discuss with them about the different music activities such as how songs are sung, give them an opportunity to describe how music makes them feel, or the images the particular music create in their mind, their reactions to different types of music and their likes and dislikes (Andang’o, 2009).

Corsaro (2011) states that educational play takes the form of music, rhymes, songs memory games, word puzzles, board games, guessing games and imaginative journeys. Today played music and songs and memory games are played in the brain and memory. Memory games help in learning logical thinking, language skills, colours, forms numbers and symbols are useful in the classroom. This type of play is often linked to the curriculum and physical education, where play, not only develops motor skills, but also provides cognitive, social and emotional competences for teachers and children. This play type seems to enrich the local play culture. Being involved movement positively affects children both cognitively and physically. Movement activities can be initiated by teachers throughout the day and especially during classroom transitions using songs and rhymes that reinforce lessons to improve children listening and memory skills.

Activities, games, seat changes, role play and dance actively contribute to children development, basic timing balance coordination and concentration (Lawrence, 2011). In addition to being associated with demographic factors like gender and socio-economic status, the incidence of justifications and other features of exploratory talk during pre-school interaction also vary with the kind of play activity that children are engaged in.

In the work of Howe & McWilliams (2007),found 82 per cent of the relevant forms occurred during symbolic or construction play, even though this kind of play was no more frequent overall than other activities, for example sand-and-water play. As it happens, the effects of play activity turn out to be bound up with those of demography. Nevertheless, Kagan, Little & Frew (2009) argues that, the data indicate that play activity has an effect additional to that of demography; and when activity is a factor that teachers could, in principle at least, influence, it is worth asking about its relevance to primary school interaction, as well as to preschool. The activities that children engage in shift from play to more formal tasks at primary level, and they are less focused upon children’s needs and wishes.

Yet, when the form of activity has been found to exert such a significant influence at preschool level, it seems possible that this is one reason for the impoverished dialogue in primary schools. Providing examples of the play settings and activities, along with using the word play in this context will reinforce its importance as a key medium for learning. Second, the adult’s role in fostering play must be cultivated. Although play is a natural act for children, teachers need help in guiding the use of play to make it most productive.

Dramatic play is the type of play in which students participate in imaginary play, taking on the roles and contacts of those they observe in their environment. During dramatic play, children interrelate with their peers and learn how to interrelate appropriately and engage in various environments and situations. It is through this type of play that children learn how to have successful social interactions and therefore preparing them up for achievement both in the classroom and out (Lawrence, 2011).

Dramatic play within the preschool setting fosters the social and emotional development of students through its various advantages. Dramatic play contributes to the development of pre-academic skills, improves learners’ ability to self- regulate their emotions and desires, all through a well-structured program with appropriate teacher intervention. Social development refers to the interactions children have with those around them, their parents, other adults, peers, siblings and teachers. Children begin to understand the roles people play and the appropriate way to relate within those roles. These skills are learned through observation and practice, which often occurs through such skills builders as dramatic play (Lawrence, 2011).

McCollum & Ostrosky (2008) states that, as the teacher monitors and guides play, and scaffolds interactions, could use strategies that support social incorporation and interactions among children with and without disabilities, and among children of varied racial/cultural backgrounds. Social integration activities offer a context for teacher and peer support for children with social interaction difficulties. For example, during teacher-guided play, teachers could arrange for children with limited peer interactions to be in involved in roles that put them in direct contact with children who are socially responsive and competent. This enables children with interaction difficulties to observe socially competent peers, participate directly in social interactions with peers who have excellent play and interaction skills, and establish a positive history of peer interactions. Also, as children engage in teacher guided play, teachers could encourage children to be friendly, interact affectionately, compliment, smile, give encouragement, share, and use other forms of pre-social behaviour. Such integrated playgroups have been found to lead to more frequent peer interactions, and positive changes in interactions between children with and without disabilities.

Although ECDE teachers may receive in-service training on the use of dramatic play, each school situation, and the challenges of implementing dramatic play in that context vary (Mavis, 2013). In sum, whether play is used to promote learning and development depends on teachers’ ideas, exercises, and contexts (Tarman& Tarman, 2011). Further Tarman & Tarman (2011) identified two types of teacher involvement: outside the flow or inside the flow. When a teacher is outside the flow, his/her involvement in play is meant to prompt reflection on the part of the children, which may lead to the modification and extension of play. On the other hand, a teacher situated inside the flow of play takes on a role as a participant and can communicate to extend play. Once a teacher gets inside the flow of play, communication with children is direct and unmediated. Also teachers could help remove clutter in the space around an ongoing play, but not intervene with accessories or action unless they perceive that an action is helpful in sustaining and elaborating children’s play (Lawrence, 2011).

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Title
Implementation Of Play Activities And Its Effects On Learners' Academic Performance in Public Early Childhood Development Centres
Subtitle
A Case Study Of West Pokot County, Kenya
Grade
4.00
Author
Year
2013
Pages
143
Catalog Number
V584902
ISBN (eBook)
9783346163226
ISBN (Book)
9783346163233
Language
English
Tags
academic, study, public, pokot, play, performance, learners, kenya, implementation, effects, early, development, county, childhood, centres, case, activities, west
Quote paper
Nelly Andiema (Author), 2013, Implementation Of Play Activities And Its Effects On Learners' Academic Performance in Public Early Childhood Development Centres, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/584902

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