Emergency Literacy in Children's play: A case of games played by children in two compounds in Kitwe
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The study was carried out to find out what type of skills, knowledge and attitudes found in children’s play or games can be characterised as foundations of reading, writing (literacy)and numeracy or those that aid their development.The sample included 30 children (16 girls and 14 boys) and their parents. Purposive sampling was used in selecting the subjects and participants of the research. The snowballing technique whereby one mother led the researcher to the next was used to select mothers who had preschoolers. Parents of the children were identified first before commencing observations because permission had to be sought from them. The number of parents was 25 because out of the total sample of 30 children, there was a set of twins and four sets of siblings. The children were aged between one and six years old. The study employed qualitative data collection and analysis procedures. These were used to identify the games played by preschoolers in the study area as well as establish what type of skills, knowledge and attitudes found in children's play and games could be characterised as foundations literacy and numeracy or those that aid their development.The findings indicated that preschoolers in the targeted compounds engaged in both exploratory and rule-governed play depending on how the game was played or what behaviour the players engaged in while playing. Children's play in the targeted area was also consistent with Davidson (1996:283)'s classification; sensory, play with motion, rough and tumble, language play, dramatic and modelling, constructive, games and rituals and competitive play. The age and gender of the children as well as the culture and social economic status (SES) of their parents determined the kind of games that the children played.The acquisition and use of language skills were found in almost all the games while the other components were scantly distributed in many of the games that were observed. Most games contained more of emergent numeracy than emergent literacy proper. In view of these findings, the researcher concluded that it was not all the games or forms of play found among preschoolers in the targeted compounds that could be adopted for use as aids in initial literacy instruction.This study informs both policy and practice in literacy instruction. The researcher recommends that curriculum planners, teachers as well as parents and guardians of preschoolers be made aware of their role as stakeholders in the nurturing of emergent literacy and the literacy acquisition process in children. Similar studies need to be done in other parts of Zambia and with communities that have a different SES. These would establish whether the games played by children in other parts of the country are different and whether they are more rich in emergent literacy and numeracy.
- Education