1.1 Back ground to the Study
Play can be used as an effective means to increase early literacy and promote reading comprehension skills (Haven & Duccey, 2007). Through active engagement, play as a pedagogical strategy can strengthen reading comprehension by helping pupils develop of a sense of action (Alex, 1988, Craig, Hull, Haggart & Crowder, 2001; Philips 1999). Having a sense of action is critical for pupils to make sense of text and derive meaning from a play. In play, the interaction is personal, engaging and immediate (Aiex, 1988). These characteristics allow play to capture the attention of the audience. This enhances an understanding of the play by providing a social context for literacy. Pupils can learn the social aspects of language through observation and participation in play (Iraig, 2001). Pupils have the ability to watch the players use action and facial expressions to engage the audience (Aiex 1988). When pupils activate plays, they have the opportunity to further develop their skills of comprehension by relating ideas with expression.
A developmental perspective pays attention to signs of maturing, whether of children maturing or, of the maturing of play (Scarlett et al., 2005). In this regard, Fromberg and Bergen (2006 p. xv) highlight what they describe as the permeable nature of play as it interacts with, parallels, represents and integrates physical, social, emotional, aesthetic and cognitive experiences. Ethnographic studies have illustrated that young human beings play in all societies (Schwartzman, 1978) although it is recognised that the types and forms of children’s play and the amount of play varies depending upon age, gender, cultural contexts and ecological characteristics of the play settings (Armitage, 2005; Bloch and Pellegrini, 1989; Smith and Connolly, 1980; Sutton-Smith, 1997). An anthropological view of play views it as an activity in its own right, where the main motive for children to come together is ‘to be where the action is’, while researchers have explored questions such as What is play in itself? and What does it mean for the player? (James, 1998; Strandell, 2000).
A collaborative understanding of play proposed by three ‘play advocacy’ organisations in the United Kingdom and adopted as underpinning Ireland’s National Play Policy (2004) captures these multiple perspectives: Children’s play is freely chosen personally directed behaviour, motivated from within by needs, wants and desires. Play can be fun or serious. Through play children explore social, material and imaginary worlds and their relationship with them, elaborating all the while a flexible range of responses to the challenges they encounter. By playing children learn and develop as individuals, and as members of the community (National Playing Fields Association, PLAYLINK and the Children’s Play Council (2000, p.6 cited in Ready Steady Play! A National Play Policy, National Children’s Office, 2004).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Early childhood years have been described as a very important stage, wherein a substantial aspect of the child’s intellectual, socio-emotional, physical competencies are developed. The use of play as an instructional strategy for holistic development in early childhood classes has been variously established by many research findings reports and scholarly writings. Yet, early childhood teachers are said to increasingly seeing procedure of play as a waste of time and scarce resources in their classes. This has led to the shift of attention and concentrate on the use of other methods perceived as more productive but not effective in given holistic development and also not academically fruitful. Past studies in this area were concentrated on the effectiveness of play strategy in classroom and less, if not any, attention was placed on availability and the procedure of use this strategy. This study therefore investigated availability, contents and procedures of using play strategy for holistic development of preschool children in Ayedire Local Government of Osun State.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions were generated to guide this study
1. To what extent are there play that are context appropriate for teaching?
2. What are the common play that reflect the development of:
a. Socio-emotional b. Physical c. Intellectual in the preschools children?
3. To what extent do the availability and content relatively influence the use of play in preschool children?
4. To what extent do the availability and content compositely influence the use of play in preschool children?
1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY.
The objective of the research is to study the availability of content and procedure of play strategy for holistic development of preschool children.
1.5 Significance of Study
Play has been referred to as a very important tool through which (children’s) intellectual, socio-emotional, physical and language domains could be developed. To this end the findings from this study would reveal the availability, contents, procedure of use play strategy for holistic development of preschool children. Finding from this study would also reveal the extent to which the pre- school availability of the play to holistic development of preschool children in the cognitive, socio-emotional and physical. Private and public school administrators would benefit from this research as it would assist them in placement of appropriate procedure for teacher using play for holistic development of preschool children.
1.6 Scope of the Study.
This study investigated the availability, contents, and procedures of using play strategies for holistic development of preschool children. The study focused on the intellectual, socio-emotional and physical development of children. The study covered both public and private preschool in Ayedire L.G.
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