AN ASSESSMENT OF THE QUALITY OF OUTDOOR PLAY IN PUBLIC PRIMARY SCHOOL
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Play is the root and foundation of creativity in arts and science as well as in the daily life.
The usage for instructional purpose as Outdoor play offers children a diversity of environmental stimuli that contributes to increased use of senses, increased health benefits, interactive physical activity, and experimentation with social situations that prepare children for future life experiences.
This study, therefore, examines the quality of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools.
The descriptive survey research design was adopted.
Purposive sampling techniques was used to select the sample of 100 primary school teachers involved in the study.
A researcher designed questionnaire tagged the quality of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools was used for data collection. Percentage was used to answer the research question.
The study revealed that the outdoor play activities in Kwara South public primary schools are jumping puddles and nougats and crosses, the quality of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools was low.
The level of utilization of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools was low and the extent of teachers’ skills in the use of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools was high.
The study recommended that Government and school administrators should work towards the provision of equipment that will facilitate outdoor play activities.
Effort should be geared towards increasing quality of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools.
Teachers should be trained on the use of outdoor play as a method of teaching that is advocated in the National Policy on primary education in Nigeria Parents should be orientated on the influence of their parenting activities on family involvement and the need to be more democratic while dealing with their children.
1.1 Background to the Study
The need for educating children became inevitable since education in a contemporary world is seen as the corner stone for the individual social and economic development.
Education forms the basis for literacy, skill acquisition and technical advancement.
Osakwe (2006) described education as an indispensable tool for nation building and this involves a systematic training and instruction designed to transmit knowledge, skill, potentials and abilities, which enable an individual to contribute efficiently to his or her growth and development.
Based on this, modern societies show serious concern in the education of their young ones.
They make provisions for their pupils through primary education which takes effect in primary school.
Maduewesi (1999) observed that one of the most basic principles of modern teaching is that teachers should find and use the most attractive approaches to help the learner to learn.
Thus, the teacher has to device methods that are sufficiently motivating to persuade the learner to learn what is necessary.
Play method of teaching enables the pupils to be actively involved in the learning process whereby they act as stakeholders in an imagined or real scenario.
This technique compliments the traditional teaching.
In play method, the teacher selects a particular event or situation that illuminates key theories or may be of importance to the topic of the study.
Pupils are given detailed background readings and assigned stakeholder rules as preparation.
The format of interaction between stakeholders varies and may depend on time or resources available.
For young children, play is known to be their most natural activity which not only contributes to their development but also gives them satisfaction, enjoyment as well as helps in developing their potential in full (Ibiam, 1997).
Play is the root and foundation of creativity in arts and science as well as in the daily life.
Moffatt, (2003) describes play as a straight exploration or learning activity which provide for information seeking behavior.
It is a powerful inner force through which a child reaches out to interact with his environment and it involves movement and different sensory modes (Aleke, 2011).
The child seems to learn more when he/she can move around, handle, and manipulate objects.
Through such sensory motor activities, he/she learns much about the properties of matter and finds way(s) to adapt to a complex environment through play experiences related to cause and effects.
Children who are prevented from having a wide range of sensory motor (play) experiences in these early years, due to illness, over protection, or other reasons are not likely to develop certain kinds of cognitive information in the same way later.
Play also refers to a range of voluntary intrinsic activities that are normally associated with pleasure and enjoyment.
It also involves some manipulation of objects in the environment by a person with others. Play method becomes more effective when it is taken to a zone where pupils can relate what they are learning to their immediate environment.
Playgrounds are places where children’s play can take off and flourish. Good outdoor playgrounds are large enough and designed in such a way that children’s play can come to full expression, where children can make a mess, run, jump and hide, where they can shout, whistle and explore the natural world.
A variety of factors determine the quality of a play ground for young children from infants to eight-year-olds.
Addressing play needs of young children is within the domain of occupational therapy (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2014).
Exploring play experiences and factors which affect a child’s play at this key developmental stage supports the delivery of holistic, family-centered occupational therapy (Coughlan & Lynch, 2011).
Additionally, the need to research children at play falls within the priorities of the Occupational Therapy National Research Agenda (Association of Occupational Therapists Ireland, 2013) which recommends undertaking basic research to examine relationships among impairment, activity, and participation.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neuro developmental disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction, communication, and restricted, repetitive behaviors (American Psychiatric Association (APA), 2013).
These include design of the play area, safety issues, play equipment, accessibility, and adult supervision. Outdoor play should not become too academic and too teacher controlled.
This can be called the outdoor play. Outdoor play offers children a diversity of environmental stimuli that contributes to increased use of senses, increased health benefits, interactive physical activity, and experimentation with social situations that prepare children for future life experiences.
Outdoor play offers children a richer and more diverse play environment than indoor and often digital play which allows children greater creativity and flexibility in their play.
Outdoor play and brain development does not stop once a child enters into school, in fact, outdoor play is equally important for children of all ages.
Research and studies show us that active, outdoor, free play can lead to improved academic performance.
Outdoor play is an experiential process of learning by performing acts/experiences that takes place predominantly out of the classroom setting or through exposure to the out-of-doors (Fägerstam, 2012).
Lederman (2007) conclude that outdoor play activities are the most valuable informal science learning and it is voted to be more impactful to learning of science.
Lederman found out that ‘learning environments that allow students to interact physically and intellectually with instructional materials through hands-on experimentation and minds-on reflection’ make substantial impacts on students’ learning.
Though outdoor play is effective but the quality is not ascertained.
More so, teachers use the outdoor environment in children’s learning, though it likely varies between schools as well as between teachers at each school.
However, there are signs that compulsory school teachers are using the outdoor environment in the school curriculum more than they did before.
Schools report that they practice outdoor education on a regular basis (Óladóttir, 2008).
The importance of outdoor play is evident in the fact that health promotion position statements have been designed in relation to it.
According to the Position Statement on Active Outdoor Play (Tremblay et al., 2015), “Access to active play in nature and outdoors-with its risks- is essential for healthy child development.”
Studies support the premise of the value of outdoor play.
Bjørgen’s (2015) study demonstrated that the wellbeing of 3 to 5 year-olds was supported through their involvement in physical play which provided them with social relationships, freedom to act, challenges, and opportunities for variation, in the outdoors environment.
Parents and educators agree that outdoor play is a natural and critical part of a child’s healthy development (Clements, 2004). Outdoors offers unique opportunities to children including: access to space with opportunities to be themselves, fresh air, the experience of weather, and contact with natural things, freedom to be adventurous, discovery and play, stimulation of the senses, movement experiences, social interactions, and learning safety (White, 2014).
Outdoor play has its own advantages but it is often neglected.
A drift to increased time spent indoors has been identified in the lifestyles of children today, who play outdoors less than their parents did (Bassett, John, Conger, Fitzhugh, & Coe, 2014).
Research posits this changing nature of children’s lives as a major concern and suggests that the child-nature connection is under serious threat (Heritage Council, 2011).
Considering that the prevalence of obesity is at its highest ever and increasing, it could be surmised that these two phenomena are not unrelated (Ng, as cited in Tremblay, 2015).
Outdoor play pertains not only to the child’s home and community environment, but also their school environment.
Indeed, in the UK, most children spend more than 2000 hours of their life in a school playground, probably more than in any other outdoor play environment (Grounds for Learning, 2012).
There is also a widespread belief that spending time outdoors, especially in a natural, pollution-free environment, is good for children’s physical health and well-being.
Despite the beneﬁts of using the outdoors in children’s learning, teachers in many countries like Nigeria are concerned about diverse risks in the outdoor environment (Kernan and Devine 2010).
This concern has developed in recent years or decades. Stephenson (2003) sees it as the impact of discourse about the dark side of risk, with emphasizes on the possibility of failure and injury.
Teachers’ view of the risks differs across countries.
In studies of preschool practitioners’ attitudes by Sangster in 2012, the researcher found children’s risky play important for their development and well-being.
But a difference was found in the extent of their support for such play.
This study would therefore examine the quality of outdoor play in primary schools.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The goal of teaching and learning is to effect desirable behavior’s on the learner.
Methods used by teachers in teaching are critical to the achievement of the envisaged goals as stipulated in the National Policy on Education.
The play method with the use of outdoor play of teaching that is advocated in the national policy on pre-primary and primary education seems not effectively used in most schools, perhaps because teachers are not well trained or may be because the materials used in play method of teaching are inadequate which may affect the quality.
Based on the identified gap, this study will examine the quality of outdoor play in primary schools in Kwara South.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine the quality of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools.
Specifically, the study would examine
1. The outdoor play activities in Kwara South public primary schools.
2. The quality of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools.
3. The level of utilization of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools.
4. The extent of teachers’ skills in the use of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools.
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions will be raised:
1. What are the outdoor play activities in Kwara South public primary schools?
2. What are the quality of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools?
3. What are the level of utilization of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools?
4. What are the extent of teachers’ skills in the use of outdoor play in Kwara South public primary schools?