AN EVALUATION ON THE ATTITUDE OF CHILD CARE GIVERS TOWARDS CHILD CARE PRACTICES IN NURSERY SCHOOL

ABSTRACT

The study attempted to investigate an evaluation of the attitudes of child caregivers towards child care practices in nursery schools in Agege and Ikeja Local Government Areas of Lagos State. In this study, some relevant and related literatures were reviewed under sub-headings. The descriptive research survey design was applied in the assessment of the opinions of the respondents with the aid of the questionnaire and the sampling technique. A total of 200 (Two hundred) respondents were used in this study. A total of three null hypotheses were formulated and tested in this study with the use of the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient statistical tool. All the hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the tests, the following results emerged: There is a significant relationship between the caregivers’ attitudes and their impact on childcare practices, there is a significant relationship between the attitudes of caregivers and childcare practices, there is a significant problem encountered by caregivers towards childcare practices in Lagos State, there is a significant relationship between the relevance of childcare practices and early childhood education in Lagos State, and finally, there is a significant difference between children who attended childcare practices and those who did not.

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background to the Study

The quality of life for a child and the contributions the child makes to society as an adult can be traced back to the first few years of life. From birth until about five years old, a child undergoes tremendous growth and change. If this period of life includes support for growth in cognition, language, motor skills, adaptive skills and social-emotional functioning, the child is more likely to succeed in school and later contribute to society. A good early childhood care and education provides the intervention programmes that support children’s survival growth, development and learning including health, nutrition and hygiene, and cognitive, social, physical and emotional development from birth to entry into primary school in formal, informal and non-formal settings (UNESCO, 2007).

The early childhood care provides comprehensive, developmentally appropriate, inclusive educational opportunities to the children. According to UNESCO (2000), the past decade has provided more evidence that good quality early childhood care and education, both in families and in more structured programmes have a positive impact on the survival, growth, development and learning potential of children. Such programmes should be comprehensive, focusing on all of the child’s needs and encompassing health, nutrition and hygiene as well as cognitive and psycho-social development.

Until the middle of the twentieth century, scientists believed that the brain’s development was determined almost exclusively by genetic factors. Researcher Mark Rosenzweig (1969) was curious about whether early experiences change the brains development. He conducted a number of experiments with rats and other animals to investigate this possibility. Animals were randomly assigned to grow up in different environments. Animals in an enriched early environment lived in cages with stimulating features, such as wheels to rotate, steps to clim, livers to press and toys to manipulate. In contrast, other animals had the early experience of growing up in standard cages or in barren, isolated conditions. The results were stunning. The brains of the animals growing up in the enriched environment developed better than the brains of the animals reared in standard or isolated conditions. The brains of the “enriched” animals weighed more, had thicker layers, had more neuronal connections, and had higher levels of neurochemical activity. Similar findings occurred when older animals were reared in vastly different environments, although the results were not as strong as for the younger animals. Such results give hope that enriching the lives of infants and young children who live in improverised environments can produce positive changes in their development.

Depressed brain activity has recently been found in children who grow up in a deprived environment (Cicchetti, 2001). A child who grew up in the unresponsive and non stimulating environment of a Romanian orphanage showed considerably depressed brain activity compared with a normal child.

The profusion of connections described earlier provides the growing brain with flexibility and resilience. Consider 16 years old Micheal Rehbein. At age 4 ½, he began to experience uncontrollable seizures, as many as 400 a day. Doctors said that the only solution was to remove the left hemisphere of his brain where the seizures were occurring.

Neuroscientists believes that what wires the brain or rewires it, in the case of Michael Rehbein is repeated experience (Nash, 1997). Each time a baby tries to ouch an attractive object or gazes intently at a face, tiny bursts of electricity shoot through the brain, knitting neurons together into circuit what results are some the behavioural milestones. For example, at about 2 months of age, the motor-control centres of the brain develop to the point at which infant can suddenly reach out and grab a nearby object. At about 4 months, the neural connect necessary for depth perception begin to form. And about 12 months, the brain’s speech centers are poised to produce one of infancy’s magical moments when the infant litters his or her first word.

In sum, neural connections are formed early in life. The infant’s brain literally is waiting for experiences to determine how connections are made (Greenough, 2001, Johnson, 2000, 2001, 2005). Before birth, it appears that genes mainly direct how the brain establishes basic wiring patterns. Neurons grow and travel to distant places awaiting further instructions. After birth, environmental experiences guide the brain’s development. The flowing stream of sight, sounds, smells, touches, language, and eye contact help shape the many of the conditions that threaten the survival of infants and young children also leave those who do survive at risk, often with physical, cognitive and emotional impairments. From which they will never fully recover. Thus the early childhood years offers an unparalleled window of opportunity to impact the future well-being of these vulnerable children. Great attention should therefore be paid to the early years of the children, knowing the vulnerability of their situation and how what happen to them at this stage can affect their entire life. The care these children receive has powerful effects on their survival, growth and development.

To a child, the world is an awesome place where experiences are just waiting to surprise and excite the young growing mind. Children are naturally curious, they want to explore and learn from everything they can see, touch and do. If their explorations bring pleasure or success, they will want to learn more and discover the things around them. Piaget had asserted that the ability of a child to know the properties of and object is determined by the child’s interaction with the object. It is during these early years that children form attitudes about learning that will last a lifetime (Cartton, 2003). Children who therefore receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years are expected to be creative and adventurous learners throughout their lives otherwise they tend to have a negative disposition towards learning in later (Einon, 1999, Lew & Bettner, 1996).

Research has amply indicated that children’s capacity to learn, demonstrated in their level of task persistence, is greatly influenced by the interaction of both the physical and the psychosocial environmental variables. UNICEF (2001) posits that early childhood experiences should take place within the context of learning through living environment stimulated by interaction with other children, adults and manipulative materials (Osanyin, 2004).

The value of adults assistance or involvement in childhood developmental activities is also being noted in research. The study of Shonkoff and Phillips (2000) indicates that children’s developmental trajectory is critically mediated by appropriate, effective relationships with loving and consistent caregivers as they relate to children through play. When adults observe children or join them in child-driven play, they are given a unique opportunity to see the world through a child’s vintage point as he navigates a world so perfectly created to just to fit his needs. The interactions that occur through play tell children that adults are fully paying attention to them and help to build enduring relationships (Tamis-Lemonda et al, 2004, Tsao, 2002). Those children who receive the right sort of support and encouragement during these years tend to be creative, adventurous learners throughout this sort of support and interaction are likely to have a much different attitude about learning later in life.

An important contribution to the field of child development and early childhood education was the recognitive of the role of caregivers in the fostering development of children in the institutionalized settings. Development in children is fostered when caregivers interact with them physically, orally and emotionally, stimulating children and providing them with clear and consistent cues to behaviours. According to Elias & Arnold (2006), Zins (2004), Cohn (1990), Henry (1990), studies on brain development have such as close interaction with caring adults and engaging hands-on activities have been found capable of enhancing the brain’s development (Healy, 1998).

Early caregiver-child interaction plays a profound role in the development of self-regulation, cognitive development, language acquisition, and socio-emotional adjustment.

Attitude refers to relatively enduring organizations of feelings, beliefs and behaviour tendencies toward other persons, groups, ideas or objects. Attitudes play an important role in virtually every aspect of social life. They exert a powerful influence upon the nature of our relationship with others. For example, positive attitudes towards particular persons lead us to seek them out, to do things for them, and to imitate their actions while negative attitudes lead us to avoid, reject and possibly even harm them. In a sense, many of our reactions to other may be viewed as largely attitudinal in nature. Secondly, attitudes influence most important decisions. They also determine our position in many crucial social issues and in this manner indirectly shape the nature of the society in which we live. We are rarely completely neutral to the persons, groups, object or ideas around us. Rather we usually have beliefs about them, feeling toward them and behavioural tendencies with respect to them. When these three types of reactions chester around a particular object and are relatively enduring.

They may be viewed as constituting an attitude. It is obvious that children are not born with all their complex attitudes in place. Rather these are formed through a gradual process in which classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning and observational learning all play a role. Acting together over a period of many years, these result in the development of many attitudes which are highly resistant to later change (Thurstone, 1932).

Attempt to alter attitudes often involve persuasive communications while many factors influence the success of such appeals. Attitudes toward many different stimuli are influenced by their frequency of exposure – the more often they are encountered the more they are liked (Thurstone, 1932).

It is evident from the above that to get caregivers adopt desirable child care practices, we need first to alter certain negative attitudes which they hold.

Statement of Problem

It should be noted that mothers are exclusively caretakers of their own babies and young children. These activities are quite important but must be handled with flexibility. The Nigerian mother is too eager to take care of her child and she is always all over the child. However, today there is this craze for wealth. There are career women predominantly in the urban areas. They leave for their various offices as early as 5am and return back home about 11pm. One of the many reasons for coming home late is traffic congestion. These children are therefore entrusted into the hands of unlearned housemaids, illiterate nannies, grandmothers or grand aunties who may be lackadaisical about their health and nutrition. This method of care giving was a common phenomenon in the 60s, 70s and early 80s. From the 80s, uncountable number of day centres, crèches and play groups sprang up. With Nigeria in her 50s, the career woman now gives a sigh of relief, thrusting her child into the sophisticated care of caregivers in the nearest care-giving centres.

Because of long hours of working, the child is neglected in the area of ECCE by the mother. The child must have gone to bed by 8pm, most probably without dinner and if there is, not a balanced diet. The formative years of the growing children may be thus maladjusted.

Purpose of the Study

This study seeks to ascertain the caregivers attitude towards child care practices in nursery schools.

Objectives

1. To access the impact of care givers towards child care practices.

2. To find out the attitude of are givers towards child care practices.

3. To find out the various problems in which the care givers usually encounter towards child care practices.

4. To find the extent to which child care practices is relevant to the early childhood education.

5. To find out the difference between the children who were presented for child care practices and those who do not as regards to their early childhood education.

Research Questions

1. To what extent do care givers impact on childcare practices?

2. What is the attitude of care givers towards child care practices?

3. What are the various problems in which the care givers usually encountered towards child care practices?

4. To what extent is child care practice relevant to the early childhood education?

5. What is the difference between the children who were presented for childcare practices and those who do not as regards childcare practices?

Hypothesis

1. There is no significant relationship between the caregivers and their impact on childcare practices.

2. There is no significant relationship between the attitude of caregivers and childcare practices.

3. There is no significant problem encountered by care givers towards child care practices.

4. There is no significant relationship between the relevance of child care practice and early childhood education.

5. There is no significant difference between children who attended childcare practices and those who did not as regards childcare practices.

Significance of the Study

This study will be significant in that it emphasize the importance of caregivers.

Scope of the Study

The study will focus on both high and low density area of Lagos Metropolis. Nursery schools will be visited. For the high density area Agege will be selected as an example whereas for the low density area Ikeja will be studied. The study will be limited to caregivers attitude towards childcare practices. This is because it would be too wide if other areas are being introduced and will be difficult to be covered for eh short period of the study.

Theoretical Framework

The cognitive world of the preschool child is creative, free and fanciful. Preschool children’s imaginations work overtime, and their mental grasp of the world improves. This work covers the cognitive development in early childhood, it focuses on two theories: Piagets and Vygotsky’s.

Piaget’s Preoperational Stage

The preoperational stage stretches from approximately 2 to 7 years of age. It is a time when stable concepts are formed, mental reasoning emerges, egocentrism begins strongly and then weakens and magical beliefs are constructed. The label preoperational emphasizes that the child at this stage cannot yet think something through without acting it out.

What are operations? Operations are internalized sets of actions that allow children to do mentally what before they did physically. Mentally adding and subtracting numbers are examples of operations.

Thought in the preoperational stage is flawed and not well organized. Preoperational thought marks the beginning of children’s ability to reconstruct at the level of thought what has been established in their behaviour. Preoperational thought also involves a transition from primitive to more sophisticated use of symbols. Preoperational thought can be divided into two substages: Symbolic function and Intuitive thought.

Symbolic Function SubStage:

The symbolic function substage is the first substage of preoperational thought, which occurs roughly between 2 and 4 years of age. In this stage, the young child gains the ability to mentally represent an object that is not present. The ability to engage in symbolic thought is called symbolic function, and it vastly expands the child’s mental world. Young children use scribed designs to represent people, houses, cars, clouds and so on. Other examples of symbolism in early childhood are language and the prevalence of pretend play. In sum, the ability to think symbolically and to represent the world mentally predominates in this early substage of preoperational thought (Delocache, 2004).

Intuitive Though Substage

The intuitive thought substage is the second substage of preoperational thought, which occurs between appropriately 4 and 7 years of age. In this substage, children begins to use primitive reasoning and want to know the answers to all sorts of questions. Piaget called this time period intuitive because, on the one hand, young children seen to sure about their knowledge and understanding, yet they are so unaware of how they know what they know. That is, they say they know something but know it without the use of rational thinking.

Vygotsky’s Theory of Development

Vygotsky’s unique ideas about the zone of proximal development.

The Zone of Proximal Development

The zone proximal development (ZDP) is Vygotsky’s (1962) term for the range of tasks that are too difficult for a child to master alone but that can be learned with the guidance and assistance of adults or more skilled children. Thus, the lower limit of the ZDP is the level of problem solving reached by the child working independently. The upper limit is the level of additional responsibility the child can accept with the assistance of an able instructor.

Scaffolding

Scaffolding involves changing the level of support. Over the course of a teaching session, a more skilled person adjusts the amount of guidance to fit the child’s current performance level. When the task the student is learning is new, the more skilled person may use direct instruction. As the student’s competence increases, less guidance is given.

Language and Thought

According to Vygotsky, children use speech not only for social communication, but also to help them solve tasks. Vygotsky (1962) further argued that young children use language to plan, guide and monitor their behaviour. This use of language for self-regulation is called private speech.

Vygotsky said that language and thought initially develop independently of each other and then merge. He emphasized that all mental functions have external, or social, origins. Children must use language to communicate with others before they can focus inward on their own thoughts. Children also must communicate externally and use language for a long period of time before they can make the transition from external to internal speech. This transition period occurs between 3 and 7 years of age and involves talking to oneself. After a while, the self-talk becomes second nature to children, and they can act without speaking aloud.

Vygotsky argued that children who use a lot of private speech are more socially competent than those who do not (Santiago-Delefosse & Delefosse, 2002). He argued that private speech represents an early transition in becoming more socially communicative. For Vygotsky, when young children talk to themselves, they are using language to govern their behaviour and guide themselves. For example, a child working on a puzzle might say to herself,; “Which pieces should I put together first? I will try these green ones first. Now I need some blue ones. No, that blue one does not fit there. I will try it over here”.