‘The Importance of Play on Child’s Holistic Growth’ Homa Bay County, Kenya  

Community Event Report

‘The Importance of Play on Child’s Holistic Growth’ Homa Bay County, Kenya  

View of adults seated under a tent attending Hope School's Community Event to Sensitize School Heads, Teachers, Parents, Educational and Security Stakeholders on the Importance of Play in holistic growth of the Child.
Civic Leaders, School Heads and Stakeholders Meeting with the County Government of Homa Bay,  Department of Basic Education and Human Capital on the theme ‘ Integrating Play-based approach  early childhood development and education (ECDE).

Hope School organizes a Community Event to Sensitize School Heads, Teachers, Parents,  Educational and Security Stakeholders on the Importance of Play in holistic growth of the  Child.

Introduction: 

On 20th October, 2023 Mercy Youth Initiative (MYI) with funding support from the Defending Early  Years (DEY – Mini Grant Initiative) hosted a community-wide event at Nyamanga Primary School,  Mbita District, Kenya that brought together a total of 12 headteachers representing 12 primary  schools, 12 early years educators, National Government Administrative Officers ( 1 DC, 3 DO’s, 1 Chief and 4 Assistant Chiefs), 8 civic leaders and 2 ward representative with a goal to sensitize the  various stakeholders and parents on the importance of play in holistic child’s growth.  

Workshop Outcome:  

The community event discussions centered on; 

  • Ways of raising resources to establish play parks, games zones in the local schools. 
  • Creating public places that are children-friendly and offers opportunities for children to  play. 
  • Bringing stakeholders together including the two tiers of government; County Government  being in charge of early childhood development and education (ECDE) and National  Government in charge of Primary, Secondary and higher education. The event discussions aimed at building a community civic engagement forum to petition the two-tiers of  governments to review their policies and adopt play – based education as a critical element for holistic child’s growth.
Adults invited by Hope School are seated under a tent
Hope School organizes a Community Event to Sensitize School Heads, Teachers, Parents, Educational and Security Stakeholders on the Importance of Play in holistic growth of the Child.

Workshop Resolutions: 

  1. The workshop noted the importance of early learning as entrenched in the second target of  Sustainable Development Goal 4, which seeks to ensure that, by 2030, “all girls and boys  have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so  that they are ready for primary education”. 
  2. The early years education (EYE) stakeholders agreed that they are going to adopt Play based learning in their institutions and emphatically shift from test-based and exams oriented education and fully adopt an active, play-based learning approaches capable to transform the educational experiences of children in the early primary grades and  strengthen learning motivation and outcomes. 
  3. The workshop provided stakeholders with a platform to re-think and re-imagine on how to  teach young children to tap their enormous learning potential. All the teachers in  attendance agreed that Play is one of the most important ways in which young children gain  essential knowledge and skills. For this reason, play opportunities and environments that  promote play, exploration and hands-on learning are at the core of effective pre-primary  programmes.  
  4. The two Ward Representative among other civic leaders in attendance were petitioned and  asked to draft a bill and take to the county assembly for allocation of funds to all county  government funded EYE centers to establish and equip playgrounds in all schools. 

Challenge:  

One challenge is the tension between play for its own sake and educational play, which focuses  on curriculum goals and outcomes. Another challenge is the difficulty of translating theoretical  knowledge into practical activities that provide meaningful playful experiences for young children. 

Play-based learning engages young students in intentional, structured, and developmentally  appropriate play that supports specific learning goals. This child-centered and self-directed  approach gives students more choice to discover what they enjoy; encourages active participation  in learning; and can benefit young students’ cognitive, physical, and social-emotional  development 

Recommendations: 

Draft a formal petition to the County Governor, County Executive Committee Member (CECM), the  County Government of Homa Bay to allocate 10% of the total County Source Revenue to fund  purchase and installation of play equipment in all the early years education centers being run by  the County Government so that play-based educational approach can be adopted and  implemented in Homa Bay County. 

Plan for a follow-up workshop in 3rd quarter of 2024 to assess the impact of play in early years  education in Mbita West Zone where EYE teacher’s, EYE Headteachers and Center Managers have  been inducted, sensitized with the previous DEY Mini Grant Funding

Large group of children pose for a photo at Hope School event

 

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