ABSTRACT: The study investigated Play and Language Development of Pupils in Pre-Primary Schools. Three (3) research questions and three research hypotheses were stated to guide the study. A survey research design was adopted as a research design of the study, the population of the study was two (2) hundred (200) pre-primary schools pupils in the study area. A sample size of one hundred and forty (140) pre-primary pupils were chosen from ten (10) pre-primary schools through a stratified sampling technique. The instrument used for data collection was a questionnaire.
Play and Language Development of Pupils in Pre-Primary Schools
Data collected for the study were analyzed using Pearson Product Moment Correlation. The result of the findings revealed that there is a significant relationship between play (Cooperative Association and Parallel) and language development of pupils in pre-primary schools in Etinan Local Government Area. Based on the above findings, it was recommended that plays (cooperative, association and parallel) should be encouraged in pre-primary schools in order to promote the language development of pupils.
1.1 Background to the Study
Play is the primary vehicle by which young children learn during the first year of life. Children undergo major developmental changes through play across a range of domains. In particular, the entry into “formal language” is one of the most heralded achievements of early development. Language enables children to share meanings with others, and to participate in cultural learning in unprecedented ways. Moreover, language is foundational to children’s school readiness and achievement. Godson (2010) stated that play is an activity that is chosen freely and is motivated and directed from within.
Adequate space for play and a wide variety of play materials can be crucial in the development of children (Goldstein, 2012) in pre-primary school; play is particularly valued and embedded in the curriculum. The importance of play is stemmed from the contribution it makes towards the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth (Gainsbury, 2015). Continuous play between children and their peer as well as adults can enhance their social competence and emotional maturity. Play is considered as the pillar of the society since it facilities communication between people especially because they are expected to handle various roles.
During play, children develop all the skills required, making it a very significant aspect of their lives (Gold, 2013). The development of difference cognitive, affective and personal processes are dependent on play and these are aspects that are important for the adaptive functioning of children (Russ, 2013). For the preschool child (3-6 years old), play as a demonstration methods is at the very centre of his life. The play experience of the young child serve as the primary vehicle by which he/she learns about himself and his environment. During the preschool years, young children greatly expand their knowledge, understanding and abilities through play. They explore and discover their world through experiences using their senses of tough, sight, smell, hearing taste and the child’s discovery of the environment could be done through play.
Play is a universal language which every child understands it; it is seen as a positive tool for scholastic development in young children. Children love to play and learn a lot through play. It is such a significant factor in children’s learning that the national policy on education (2014) categorically stated that government should ensure that the main method of teaching at the early childhood level should be through play.
Play has been given different definitions by different authors. Play is a perfect activity for normal development and growth of children in all aspects of life. It is especially useful in the all round development of the child in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains of learning (Ibiam, 2010). According to Bedrous and Leong (2012), play is a specific behaviour involving divergent thinking usually used to describe the activities of children from babyhood until the early teenage years. They also argue that play is something in which humans of all ages from diverse cultures engage in although the purpose for and the type of play may be different across ages and culture.
A commonly held belief among those in early childhood education is that play is the most important activity of young children because it is during play that children are at their most competent form. Children learn best not when they are told but when they can act on their environment and construct knowledge for themselves. It gives children fun, joy and helps in developing the child’s personality realization of their potentials and experience the satisfaction of success. Children have different form of play such as cooperative play, associative play and parallel play. Russell (2011) opined that these form of play are symbolized by things, actions, plots and behaviours. Akpan (2010) agree that play has a strong link with language development of pupils and it is regarded as an integral part of a well-rounded preschool programmes.
Play and Language Development of Pupils in Pre-Primary Schools
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Brunner (2018) stated that the children’s first language is most rapidly mastered when situated in playful activity. Play allows children opportunities to try out different ways in which they can combine the elements of language without having to worry too much about the consequences of making errors. Thus, play context is conducive to language acquisition. Researchers have indicated that language development of children is influenced by plays (Oliver, 2011 and Nino, 2013).
The purpose of this study is to know whether play or not play helps to promote the development of language acquisition for pre-primary school children. Because of the important relationship between play and language development, early childhood and preschool classrooms should continue to provide the time, space and materials for play. The role of play and language development of preschool pupils therefore needs to be studied closely in the classroom environment through the observation of literacy behaviours among young children.
Therefore, this study examines the impact of play on language development of pupils in pre-primary schools in the study area.