A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF OUT-DOOR PLAY ENVIRONMENT IN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC PRE-SCHOOL SETTINGS
This study attempted to carry out a comparative study of outdoor play environment in private and public preschool settings in Ikeja Local Government Area of Lagos State. In this study, some relevant and related literature review was carried out under subheadings. The descriptive research survey was used in the assessment of respondents opinions with the aid of questionnaire and the sampling technique. One hundred (100) teachers were selected as sample for this study which represented the entire population of the study. Also, four (4) hypotheses were formulated and tested using the independent t-test and pearson product moment statistical tools at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the data analyses, the following results emerged that:there is a significant difference between the learning outcomes of children in public and private schools due to the use of out-door play method, there is a significant relationship between the use of out-door play method and other methods of teaching children in pre-primary schools, there is a significant difference between the learning outcomes of children in schools where out-door play equipment are available and those in schools where they are not and there is no significant difference between the learning outcome of children taught with appropriate teaching styles and those taught with inappropriate teaching styles at the early childhood education. Based on the findings of this study, the researcher recommends the following: the National Policy on Education should be reviewed to include among others the education of the Nigerian child from 0 – 2 years and teachers who teach at the early child schools/institutions, should of necessity, adopt appropriate teaching styles that are child-learning oriented. Outdoor plays should be compulsory for the teaching and learning processes.
1.1 Background to the Study
Play has been the natural phenomenon with children. According to Aziza (2000), children who are healthy and not disabled (physically challenged), cannot do without playing in their natural environments. In some climes, play has been denoted as a veritable mark of a healthy and vibrant child. This is because, play makes a child to be active and occupied.
Historically, the artifacts and documents have proved the fact that children have been in the natural habits of playing since the earliest times. For instance, toys have been found in the ruins of the ancient China, Egypt, Babylonia and other early civilizations. According to Encyclopedia Americana (1980), play is recreation or any activity done for amusement. It includes everything from playing with toys to participating in sports, to watching the television. Play is different from other kinds of human behaviour. In primitive cultures, play occasions were often regarded as sacred. Games were sometimes played in order to gain a decision from the gods about the future of a dead man’s soul or a tribe’s future affairs etc (Aldis, 2005).
Even today, games of chance are played most often by those members of modern society who have the least control over their affairs and the least scope for personal initiative. A game of chance brings the play an opportunity that life usually does not, as the example of the modern lottery illustrates. Games of strategy which emerged in human culture with the appearance of social classes and specialized military groups appear to have been developed as ways of training for diplomacy and warfare etc (Singer, 2003).
Modern-day children with their innumerable toys, practice the manipulative control of objects, just as their parents manipulate autos, thermostats, diswashers and computers. Both adults and children live in a world where the control of machines is critical to survival. In general however, children’s play today focuses on mental rather than physical activities. This mental activity is typically modeled in a great variety of types of make-believe play, the socio-dramatic play with other children, or the constructive play with toys or with arts and crafts materials (Butler and George, 2001).
According to Almonde (2000), an environment is the overall surrounding of a place. He claimed that, for any out-door play to be effective and result-oriented, the environment in which play is carried out ought to be well prepared. This, according to him, is because, the prepared play environment focuses on an organized and co-ordinated set of materials and equipment calculated towards achieving a significant learning in the child.
As Adamson (1999) puts it, the environment on which play is done, should be prepared based on the child’s need. The environment for out-door play ought to be well ordered physically and conceptually to give meaning and relevance to the child’s world. The Montessori house is part of the prepared play environment and includes a set for rooms each for intellectual work, and there are shelters for individual play or sleep. A recreation room for games or music, a dining room, a dressing room, and a garden. These are conceived as part of the set-up to teach the child self-care and care of property (Ebele, 1999).
Montessori held that the most characteristic feature of system is the prepared play environment. Since the child absorbs from the environment, it logically follows that the environment should be prepared in order to ensure that what is absorbed is wholesome. Therefore, the following should be put in place within the prepared environment before out-door play effectively is used as a teaching method in early childhood education:
(a) Freedom of movement: Everything is tailed to the child’s size, needs and interests to enhance movement. These will ensure self motivation and activities. Learning ought to be focused towards independence.
(b) Order of Structure: This is as regards arrangement and atmosphere (environment). The learning materials, for instance, have to be well ordered, well kept and presented in such a way to lead to greater refinement and control.
(c) Reality and Nature: The young child should be free to explore nature and to observe the harmony and order revealed in nature. Reality is practicalised with the use of tools and other equipment by children in their daily classroom activities (Amos, 2000).
Maduewesi (1994), observes that one of the most basic principles of modern teaching is that the teacher should find and use the most attractive approaches to help the learner to learn. Since the teacher cannot plaster the necessary skills, attitudes and processes on the child, as the masson will plaster the cement on the walls, the teacher has to resort to devicing methods sufficiently motivating to persuade the learner to learn what is necessary. According to Uzor (2000), in the case of young children, play is known to be their most natural activity. So natural is playing to children that they instinctively play without being taught or even specially motivated. Play is therefore self-motivated. It thus, follows that this natural activity is the best and most wonderful and sensible way to teach children, for as they play, they learn also.
There are various theories explaining the meaning and significance of play in human culture and human society. They include the surplus energy, which takes the position that man plays in order to get rid of surplus energy. Another view point is that, in out-door play, the man continuously recreates the society in which it takes place. Some sociologists such as Enoh et al (1990), posit that play is a symbolic process which has special significance for preparing the young to participate later in adult activities; thus, to this group, play is a preparation or rehearsal for adult roles. These and many other explanations have been given as to why almost from birth, all children in all cultures play spontaneously without prompting (Sutton-Smith, 2001).
In Nigeria, there seems to be high quality out-door environment in the private schools than the public ones. According to Adekoya (2002), the quality of out-door environment determines to a great extent, the effectiveness in teaching and learning process in the school setting. He opined that children learn more in schools where there is provision for quality out-door environment and materials. Alimi (2003) is of the opinion that, there is no functional out-door availability of equipment in most public schools in Nigeria, especially in Lagos State. Whereas, virtually all the private schools, especially the Montessori-based schools, have functional, qualitative equipment and out-door facilities/materials, put in place in a conducive play environment that warrants effective teaching and learning outcomes of children.
In his observation, Uzodinma (2005), studied ten (10) schools, five public and five private nursery schools located in Lagos State to see if there is a relationship between out-door play and learning achievement of children. The outcome of the study indicated tat a significant relationship exists between out-door play and learning achievement of children. Further observation that children from the private schools where out-door equipment and materials are available, coupled with the decent environment, out-perform those from the public schools where there exists no out-door equipment and materials to teach children through play. With this result, Uzodinma concluded that children perform well when they are taught with the out-door play methods with practical experiences. And that children learn by practical experiences than theories
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The problems inherent in the non-inclusion of out-door play as a veritable method of teaching and learning in the early childhood education cannot be overemphasized. Also, the problem of where outdoor play is done is another headache that has worried educationists, researchers and other educational stakeholders. For instance, in Nigeria as a developing country, children between ages 2 to 6 years are educated in both the privately owned schools and the public ones. Suffice to say that these schools lack the appropriate and conducive environment where outdoor play is ought to be carried. Many private and public schools in Nigeria, and Lagos State in particular, lack spaces or play grounds, and those that have spaces, do not have the wherewithal to prepare the environment for unhindered play.
Not only the unwholesome play environment in many schools, there is the problem of lack of, or none availability of play materials such as walking and running materials, materials or equipment that allow children to jump, climb, hop, skip, slid, tricycle freely. Other equipment that schools lack are those that help children to throw, catch, kick, strike, bend, stretch, bounce, twist, swing and so on. Without this equipment being put in place by owners of both the public and private schools, it will be impossible for children to learn through the out-door play.
The above problems gave rise to the examination of a comparative study of out-door play environment in private and public schools in Lagos State.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate a comparative study of out-door play environment in private and public schools in Lagos State. Other specific objectives of this study include to:
(1) Assess whether there is difference between the learning achievement of children in public and private schools due to application of out-door play method.
(2) Examine if there is relationship between out-door play method of teaching and other methods of teaching children.
(3) Investigate if teachers who teach using the out-door play method produce better pupils than those who use other methods.
(4) Ascertain whether the learning outcomes of children in schools where there are equipment for out-door plays differ from those who do not.
(5) Find out whether there is gender difference in learning outcomes due to the application of out-door play method.
1.4 Research Questions
The following questions will be asked in this study:
(1) Is there any difference between the learning achievement of children in public and private schools?
(2) Is there any relationship between out-door play method and other methods of teaching and learning?
(3) Do teachers who teach with the out-door play method produce better children in school than those who do not?
(4) What extent can we ascertain whether there is difference in learning outcomes of children in public and those in private schools using out-door plays?
(5) Is there gender difference in learning of children due to the application of out-door play methods?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses will be formulated and tested:
(1) There is no significant difference between the learning outcomes of children in public and private schools due to the use of out-door play method.
(2) There will be no significant relationship between the use of out-door play method and other methods of teaching children in pre-primary schools.
(3) There will be no significant difference between the learning outcomes of children in schools where out-door play equipment are available and those in schools where they are not.
(4) There will be no significant gender difference in the learning outcomes of children due to the use of out-door play method.
1.6 Significance of the Study
The study will be benefited to the following:
(1) Children will no doubt, benefit from the conduct of this study and its outcomes. This is because, the findings/recommendations of this study, will enable care-givers to learn probably, new method of teaching the child and keeping him busy through out-door plays.
(2) Parents would also find the outcomes and recommendations of this study very imperative as they would be able to understand through this study, that children ought to be taught play. With this sense of teaching the child, parents would be able also to learn the kind of playing materials and equipment suitable for the teaching of the child.
(3) Teachers as the surrogate parents to the child, would find this study very important to his/her teaching method. With the information disseminated in this study, the experienced and non-experienced teachers would be able to understand vividly the out-door play teaching method as the veritable teaching method of coaching the children at their early stages of learning, especially at the pre-primary schools.
(4) The school authorities would also be beneficiaries of this study because the findings and recommendations of the study would enable them to discover out-door play as a good teaching method which is beneficial to the child’s learning at the early stage of his/her learning process.
(5) No doubt, the society and researchers will see the outcomes of this study as important as it should be. Not only that, the public will appreciate the use of out-door play method of teaching the child as one of the best and profitable teaching methods in the early childhood education.
(6) Researchers, scholars and students would find this study a very good reference material to further their students in similar circumstances.
1.7 Scope of the Study
The study attempted to examine a comparative study of out-door play environment in public and private schools, in Ikeja Local Government Area of Lagos State.