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BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
All preschool children have a right to play. Play is a process by which children learn both educationally and socially. Good quality play opportunities have a significant impact on child psychological and social development. (Moore, Goltsman, & Iacofano, 1992)
Play involves the whole child. Thinking, creative expression of thoughts and feelings, and physical demands all interact in the dynamic process of play. Children learn about relationships with peers, significant adults, and the world around them through play activities. They experience the full range of their senses and feelings, how their bodies move through space, and how their imaginations can create alternate worlds of existence. When children build with blocks or sand, romp through the modules of a playground superstructure, learn limits and bond through rough and tumble play, or express themselves and represent the world through hundreds of different materials, they reap the benefits of play in thousands of different ways. They are constantly learning and developing, becoming healthy, well-balanced individuals through play.
"Play is fun!" is how children usually respond when interviewed about play. But play is more than just fun. Play is engaging, voluntary and spontaneous. Play is a way for children to learn more about whom they are and what they can do. Play is a way for children to test limits, engage in fantasy, and learn about others. Researchers and scientists disagree as to why play is so important for children, but they all agree that play occurs the world over, and that children benefit in many ways from free play.
Play in the Nigeria over the last decade has gone from being almost exclusively an outdoor activity to one that is often situated indoors in front of televisions and computers. Schools, especially preschool so often concerned with academic development, have sacrificed outdoor play, and administrators may not be aware of the dire consequences for children. Outdoor play is very different than indoor play, and the unique skills developed during outdoor play cannot be developed completely through indoor play alone.
The benefits of outdoor play accrue in many ways. Obvious examples are improved cardiovascular and gross motor benefits. Less obvious is the role of outdoor play in children's cognitive, emotional, and social development. Physical activity promotes increased blood flow to the brain, leading to cognitive development (Shepard, 1997). In addition to this, children are able to engage in risk taking behaviors outdoors that would be impossible indoors, challenging themselves in ways which lead to improved self-esteem and self-confidence (Ellis, 1973). Children can engage in rough play and chase games, which are important not only for their physical development, but also for their social development. Through social play, they learn the signals needed for successful play with others, as well as the rules for starting and stopping play (Bateson, 1972; Pellegrini, 1995). Such reasons demand that outdoor play remain an integral part of children's schooling in order to promote physically and psychologically healthy children, who then have a much better chance to become healthy adults.
STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM
The poor academic performance of preschool children during their early school years has been a cause for serious concern as it has regrettably led to the constant depreciation of educational standard in Nigeria. The physical and, psychological and social wellbeing of school children has to be put into serious consideration in improving their academic performance and achievement, this has unfortunately not been the case in our education system as little or no emphasis is placed on the aforementioned factors in our educational system.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the perceived psychological effect of play therapy on physical and social wellbeing of preschool children. Other specific objectives of the study include;
- To examine the need for play therapy in preschools in Nigeria.
- To determine the general importance of play therapy in Nigerian educational system.
- To examine the level of implementation of play therapy in Nigerian pre-schools.
- To recommend ways of improving the implementation of play therapy in Nigerian pre-schools.
- What is the psychological effect of play therapy on physical and social wellbeing of preschool children?
- What is the need for play therapy in preschools in Nigeria?
- What is the general importance of play therapy in Nigerian educational system?
- What is the level of implementation of play therapy in Nigerian pre-schools?
- What are the ways of improving the implementation of play therapy in Nigerian pre-schools?
H0: Play therapy does not have a psychological effect on physical and social wellbeing of preschool children.
H1: Play therapy has a psychological effect on physical and social wellbeing of preschool children.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense importance to the development of the childhood education. The study would also be of immense importance to the management of preschools in Nigeria. The study would benefit students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing a further study on the subject matter.
SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the perceived psychological effect of play therapy on physical and social wellbeing of preschool children in Nigeria.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
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