With the modest funding from the Defending Early Years (DEY-Mini Grant Initiative) in September 2021, Mercy Youth Initiative (a community-based development – oriented organization implementing quality early childhood and youth enrichment education and training programs through Hope School) hosted a community-wide event that brought together a total of 20 Early Childhood Education (ECDE) Teachers drawn from 20 schools in Mbita West Zone.
The meeting helped the ECDE teachers to discuss the importance of play and it’s integration in early year’s education daily activity schedules. A total of 20 schools in the zone were involved in the Headteachers Workshop held on 12th October, 2021 at Hope School, Mbita, Kenya.
The resolution placed more emphasis on play and physical activities at school. It was noted that physical activities throughout the school day is necessary for children to reenergize themselves and to be able to maintain focus on their school work. Being involved in movement positively affects children both cognitively and physically. Movement activities can be initiated by teachers throughout the day and especially during classroom transitions. Using songs and rhymes that reinforce lessons improve children’s listening and memory skills. Activities, games, seat-changes, role plays, and dance actively contribute to children developing basic timing, balance, coordination and concentration.
The workshop participants shared their experiences since Mercy Youth Initiative (MYI) started engaging pre-school teachers on annual workshops to expose Early Years Educators (EYE) on the essence of play in a child’s life. The EYE teachers shared that they have noted fewer behavior problems when children are provided with many opportunities to move.
Lessons and Experience Shared:
When initiating an activity or game, explain the rules and demonstrate when necessary. Thoughts to consider:
1. Is enough space available?
2. How much time will be needed?
3. Does it involve all of the children?
4. Is it appropriate for the age of my students?
5. Are the children enthusiastic about doing it?
Lack of play equipment and materials in the targeted schools was noted as the major impediment in successful implementation of play-based physical activities in school environments.
A raft of recommendations was reached as follows:
- A follow-up conference/meeting aimed at bringing elected Civic Leaders, State Department of Basic Education, Public Health Officers be held before October, 2022 in order to develop proposal to the County Government of Homa Bay, Department of Basic Education and other stakeholders to help get budgetary allocation from the two arms of Government in funding purchase and installation of play equipment in the local public schools.