A Comparative Study of Outdoor Play Environment in Private and Public Preschool Settings
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to investigate a comparative study of outdoor play environments in private and public schools in Lagos State. Other specific objectives of this study include to:
(1) Assess whether there is a difference between the learning achievement of children in public and private schools due to the application of outdoor play methods.
(2) Examine if there is a relationship between the outdoor play method of teaching and other methods of teaching children.
(3) Investigate if teachers who teach using the outdoor play method produce better pupils than those who use other methods.
(4) Ascertain whether the learning outcomes of children in schools where there is equipment for outdoor plays differ from those who do not.
(5) Find out whether there is a gender difference in learning outcomes due to the application of the outdoor play method.
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE
STANDARDS AND QUALITY CRITERIA FOR OUTDOOR ENVIRONMENTS
In the field of Early Care and Education, most states, provide a base line for general or minimal licensing requirements for providing child care. There are four additional options for exceeding these licensing requirements which are tiered quality strategies, the Consumer Products Safety Commission Handbook on Public Playground Safety, national accrediting standards, and/or the Environment Rating Scale (Harms, Clifford, & Cryer, 1998). All five of these resources, as well as developmentally appropriate practices are reviewed for their criteria regarding the outdoor environment. Licensing Requirements. A review of child care licensing playground regulations across the United States (National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care, 7 2004) indicated that all state requirements focus mainly on indoor factors. When comparing the state requirements for outdoor play only, 48 had any requirements for this area. Very few specifically identified the type of equipment to be available as the majority called for just developmentally appropriate equipment. Some indicated only an amount needed (plenty or sufficient) while others were specific to activity (climbing, riding, balancing) or area (vigorous or large muscle). Only one state, Oklahoma, was specific regarding type and number of equipment pieces that should be available to include large muscle, as well as music, dramatic play, blocks/loose parts and art. There was also one state, Indiana, which considered the outdoor area as an extension of the learning environment including curricular objectives. Many states have a requirement for daily outdoor play, weather permitting however, only a few required it for both morning and afternoon, with a handful being specific to the amount of time spent outdoors (15 minutes to 2 hours). A small number of states allow for an indoor space to be used in lieu of the outdoor play area or outdoor playtime. The preponderance of outdoor requirements focus on safety issues, almost every state had requirements for supervision, square footage, impact, fencing or barriers and hazards with fewer focusing on fall zones, shade, and location. The majority required direct supervision of children at all times in the outdoor environment. Kieff (2001) indicated that supervision is vital to successful outdoor play. Square footage requirements ranged from 30 to 80 square feet per child with the majority falling at 75 square feet. Only a few did not mention it at all or simply stated sufficient square footage. 8 Impact material was a consideration for the majority of states though almost half were not specific about the amount necessary. Those that were specific had varied amounts ranging from 5-12 inches. Over half of the states require fencing, a natural barrier, or protected play space to separate children from hazards. Those that had fencing requirements indicated the fencing height of 3-4 feet, less than 10 did not mention this area or required it only if hazards exists. Forty-seven states required the outdoor play space be free of hazards of any sort, including items such as mold on impact material, plants, sharp edges, standing water and animals. Fall zones were rarely listed as a requirement or not specific regarding the guidelines, though a few were specific with a range of 4-6 feet around the perimeter of the equipment. About half of the states require some sort of shade with one state, Virginia, indicating that the requirement is only for the months of June, July and August. About half of the states require the outdoor play space be adjacent or adjoining the building or a safe passage to another play space such as rooftops, public playgrounds and parks. A couple of states required the outdoor play space to be on site or directly accessible from the indoor area. Tiered quality strategies. Over half of the 50 states currently participate in a tiered quality strategy. These systems are to enhance the general or minimal licensing requirements. According to information from the National Child Care Information Center (2004, 2005), tiered quality strategies are a system to improve and convey levels of quality in child care. There are currently six basic or common components used for these quality systems. One of these components looks at the learning environment but only in relation to indoor activities even though the outdoor playground is one of the quality indicators in licensing regulations (Fiene, 2002). Enhancement of quality still does not address outdoor environments. Consumer Products Safety Commission Handbook. One-fourth of the states as well as many authors (Frost et al., 2004; Henniger, 1993/94; Henniger, 1994; McGinnis, 2003; Wallach, 1990; Wardle, 1997, 2000) referred to the Consumer Products Safety Commission Handbook on Public Playground Safety as a guide to playground construction and maintenance. This handbook, as an additional source of outdoor standards, focuses solely on safety issues regarding playground equipment, including fall zones, impact material, hazards and design/construction to reduce the number of injuries to children. Frost and Dempsey (1990) stated that proper enforcement from state agencies of the outdoor regulations is key to reducing the vulnerability of children to injuries and facilities to lawsuits. National Accreditation. A third option for exceeding the state licensing requirements is to receive national accreditation. A comparison of the requirements of two commonly used accrediting agencies, National Association For Education of Young Children (NAEYC, 1998) and National Early Childhood Program Accreditation (NECPA, 1998), show that they too focus primarily on safety issues in regard to the outdoor environment, specifically supervision, impact, fall zones and hazards. NAEYC also provides guidelines for square footage and fencing. They both require daily outdoor play, weather permitting. However NAEYC indicates the focus for outdoor play being “children’s need for fresh air and exercise” (p. 25), though they allow to off set limited outdoor space with indoor space such as a gym. NAEYC does call for more specific use of space such as areas for privacy, digging and open space. The chief focus for outdoor 10 environments for NECPA is safety, including daily documented inspections. NECPA also has more specific safety requirements for all equipment used, such as equipment surface treatment. This information concurs with Frost (1992) indicating there is no national accreditation group for child care that gives more than casual attention to playground safety or design, because the majority of the requirements are for the indoor environment and staff. This wide range of state and national requirements on safety is only part of the reason that Frost (1992) indicates the need for a common set of national standards for adoption by states, professional and public agencies, and manufacturers, in relation to the expansion of playground development and use as an environment for learning. Developmentally Appropriate Practice. The position statement of the National Association for the Education of Young Children regarding Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8 indicates children should be provided outdoor experiences (NAEYC, 1996). It encourages the design of the environment to protect children (health and safety), offer opportunities for fresh air and a balance of activities to encourage movement throughout the day. As a position on practice it is very limited in looking at the outdoor environment as a place for learning or as an extension of the classroom. Environment Rating Scale. The final option for establishing outdoor guidelines used by some states as the evaluation piece to determine the level of tiered quality is the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale Revised Edition (Harms et al., 1998). It is an international tool used to evaluate the environments of early childhood settings, on a seven-point rating. It only rates the outdoor environment on nine of the 43 items. Of the nine outdoor items four of them focus on health and safety issues (items 7, 8, 14 and 29); two of them (34 and 35) deal with opportunities for outdoor play and the remaining three are concerned with specific equipment, 22-blocks, 23-sand/water, and 24-dramatic play. More specifically item is space for gross motor play covering space available, hazards or safe environment, the accessibility to outdoor area, how it is arranged, the surfaces available, shade and conveniences such as storage and water. There is not specific information about the requirement of space, impact, or fencing. Gross motor equipment is item, which focuses on type and condition of equipment, amount available, targeted skills that are age appropriate as well as variety. Item rates safety practices regarding hazards, supervision, maintenance of play equipment as well as safety rules for children. The last safety item is regarding supervision of gross motor activities, this item examines staff supervision and interactions with children, with the excellent score adding concepts regarding language/literacy development, play enhancement and opportunities for positive social interaction. The two items under program structure item 34—schedule and item 35—free play, minimally look at opportunities for outdoor play, by indicating that is offered as part of the daily happenings. The other three items (blocks, sand/water and dramatic play) indicate that having the specific equipment available outdoors is part of the criteria for scoring a (excellent) on each item. In conclusion it was clear that the current focal point on quality for outdoor environments from these six sources is predominantly safety standards. When minimum licensing requirements are followed and enforced properly, the primary reason for injuries becomes poor maintenance. According to McGinnis (2003) it is important to address the safety needs without sacrificing positive learning opportunities for children. Currently the view of outdoor quality is the issue of safety, however literature indicates there are other areas of quality for the outdoor environment, which are: variety/complexity, equipment/structure types, loose articles, planning for it as part of the curriculum, factors of use, and the adult role. These areas and their roles in enhancing quality will be reviewed in detail.
In this chapter, we described the research procedure for this study. A research methodology is a research process adopted or employed to systematically and scientifically present the results of a study to the research audience viz. a vis, the study beneficiaries.
Research designs are perceived to be an overall strategy adopted by the researcher whereby different components of the study are integrated in a logical manner to effectively address a research problem. In this study, the researcher employed the survey research design. This is due to the nature of the study whereby the opinion and views of people are sampled. According to Singleton & Straits, (2009), Survey research can use quantitative research strategies (e.g., using questionnaires with numerically rated items), qualitative research strategies (e.g., using open-ended questions), or both strategies (i.e., mixed methods). As it is often used to describe and explore human behaviour, surveys are therefore frequently used in social and psychological research.
POPULATION OF THE STUDY
According to Udoyen (2019), a study population is a group of elements or individuals as the case may be, who share similar characteristics. These similar features can include location, gender, age, sex or specific interest. The emphasis on study population is that it constitutes of individuals or elements that are homogeneous in description.
This study was carried to examine A comparative study of outdoor play environment in private and public preschool settings. Selected private and public primary schools in Uyo forms the population of the study.
DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS
This chapter presents the analysis of data derived through the questionnaire and key informant interview administered on the respondents in the study area. The analysis and interpretation were derived from the findings of the study. The data analysis depicts the simple frequency and percentage of the respondents as well as interpretation of the information gathered. A total of eighty (80) questionnaires were administered to respondents of which only seventy-seven (77) were returned and validated. This was due to irregular, incomplete and inappropriate responses to some questionnaire. For this study a total of 77 was validated for the analysis.
SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain a comparative study of outdoor play environment in private and public preschool settings. In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of outdoor play environment in private and public preschool settings
This study was on a comparative study of outdoor play environment in private and public preschool settings. Five objectives were raised which included; Assess whether there is a difference between the learning achievement of children in public and private schools due to the application of outdoor play methods, examine if there is a relationship between the outdoor play method of teaching and other methods of teaching children, investigate if teachers who teach using the outdoor play method produce better pupils than those who use other methods, ascertain whether the learning outcomes of children in schools where there is equipment for outdoor plays differ from those who do not and find out whether there is a gender difference in learning outcomes due to the application of the outdoor play method.. A total of 77 responses were received and validated from the enrolled participants where all respondents were drawn from selected private and public primary schools in Uyo. Hypothesis was tested using Chi-Square statistical tool (SPSS).
Children in both school, play during breaks and lunch time. According to Özdemir et.al.2009, Vural et al. (2016), playgrounds are very important for children’s versatile development. School gardens have a significant potential to meet children’s play and activity needs. Because children use school gardens as play grounds in breaks, physical education classes and at every opportunity time. Studies in this area indicate that the vast majority of the school gardens are made up of asphalt and concretes. Beckwith (1985) stated that playgrounds are factor affecting the quality of the game and suggested that games should include different experiences, be related, involve group works, be flexible and challenging. The last themes of “physical activities and the game lesson” children said both teacher makes play and they play freely. According to some research, children did not approve the activities in lessons as game because of having no fun; activities that kind of competition which requires solving of problems too much are boring. For this reason, teachers should consider the entertainment concept of the region they work in, so that they should use the educational activities that students can really enjoy.
Both private and public schools should provide a better playground for students to avoid injuries
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