Play as a medium for learning: Overwhelming challenges for early childhood teachers
The whole panorama of life is lived over again in the play of children. Play lies at the heart of the Early Childhood Education (ECE). It makes a major contribution to the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual development of children. In a good Early Childhood Centre (ECC), learning is promoted largely through play, supported by a variety of materials and a wide range of experiences, under the guidance of teachers who understand and value play as an avenue for learning. In this study, a descriptive qualitative approach was followed to investigate challenges ECE teachers faced with play as a medium for learning specifically, how they incorporated play into their teachings. The total samples of two ECE centres, teachers, children, in a rural area of Bojanala Region of North West Province in South Africa were selected randomly; observations and semi-structured interviews were conducted. The key findings of the research indicated that factors such as; large enrolment and inadequate resources had a negative influence on children’s play habit and are a challenge to ECE teachers. Some of the teachers did not have the necessary skills and expertise needed in the ECE classroom. The researcher recommended that Ministers of Education at the National, Provincial and Local levels take definite measures to improve in-service training for teachers of ECE.
Keywords: Play, Early Childhood Development, Challenges, Indoor play, Outdoor play, Department of Education, Learning, and Training.