Greener Journal of Social Sciences Vol. 3 (9), pp. 489-495, November 2013
ISSN: 2276-7800 © 2011 Greener Journals
Manuscript Number: 102113911
The Use of Free Play in Preschools: An Analysis of the Impact of Stakeholder Perceptions
Great Zimbabwe University, P. O. Box 1235, Masvingo, Zimbabwe.
Email: christinelekani @ gmail. com
In most parts of the world many early childhood practitioners recognise the importance of free play for children’s development and emphasize play in their classrooms. This study analysed the impact of stakeholder perceptions on the use of free play in 10 preschools attached to primary schools in Masvingo district of Zimbabwe. The methodology employed in the study was largely qualitative, using the observation, interview and document analysis as data collection methods. Study participants included an Education Officer, ten school administrators, twenty preschool teachers, and twenty parents. From a detailed analysis and discussion of results, several findings were drawn. There were inconsistencies and inadequacies in the manner in which free play was conceptualised by the different stakeholders. Teaching in preschools was largely formal and free play opportunities were limited in the preschool daily schedule. Preschools were insufficiently equipped in terms of play resources because stakeholders had a limited understanding of the benefits of free play to children’s development and learning. The study concluded that free play was not being sufficiently offered in preschool and this disadvantaged the children. Therefore, the study recommended that stakeholders recognise the value of free play and support the teachers in its implementation.
Keywords: free play, preschool, stakeholder, early childhood development.