Rationale and philosophical underpinning
In this study, the curriculum for kindergarten 1-2 (hereafter refer to as the KG curriculum) refers to the totality of the body of contents and lessons that the four- and five-year-olds (kindergarten 1 and kindergarten 2 respectively) are exposed to during their kindergarten education in order to prepare them for formal school routines. The rationale that underpins the design of the KG curriculum is that teachers must identify the informal experiences that children bring to the KG and create conducive conditions for their development and expansion. Though the curriculum does not explicitly mention its underpinning philosophy and/or theories, it operates on the principle that children learn by doing. Hence, teachers are required to provide learning opportunities that involve children’s participation and active engagement (CRDD, 2004: II).
The KG curriculum encourages teachers to expose learners to a variety of challenging situations that will require learners to use all their senses to find answers to their curious minds. To this end, teachers are encouraged to help learners develop attitude and process skills such as experimenting, observation, manipulation, communication, curiosity, perseverance, self-confidence and assertiveness (CRDD, 2004: IV).
The KG curriculum is organized in a manner to ensure that the learner remains the focal point for all learning activities. Learning experiences that are presented to learners through the application of prescribed child-centered approaches are to ensure that children enjoy their KG learning experiences. The curriculum is structured into five columns: unit/topic, specific objects, content, teaching/learning, and evaluation. The content of each of the columns is described below (CRDD, 2004: II).
Column 1: Unit/topics
This includes the body of knowledge and skills (topics) to be taught and learned. Although the topics have been arranged in order of difficulty, the teacher is not compelled to stick to this arrangement; if the teacher thinks to teach a topic before another will enhance children’s understanding, the teacher may do that.
Column 2: Specific objectives
This column shows the specific objectives for each topic what a child should be able to do or demonstrate after a particular instruction and learning unit. The specific objective places emphasis on the child as an individual, hence each objective is formulated as the child will be able to (CRDD, 2004: I).
Column 3: Content
This section describes the kind of content or information the teacher needs to teach in a topic. The teacher is not restricted to teaching only what is stated in this section. The teacher may decide to add additional information based on current information.
Column 4: Teacher and learner methodologies
The fourth column presents the teaching and learning activities that encourage active child participation and ensure learners’ enjoyment. The activities are to emphasize the three main knowledge domains of cognitive, affective and psychomotor development. Teachers are encouraged to provide stimulating activities and where necessary improvise play materials. Teachers are also encouraged to create their own rhymes, songs and games to achieve maximum learning outcomes.
Column 5: Evaluation
This column presents the suggested exercises to evaluate each unit. Evaluation activities include informal forms such as observation of children’s performances and oral questions. Teachers are encouraged to develop other creative evaluative tasks. Table 1.1 provides an example of the organization of the KG curriculum showing the five columns.
The researcher’s critical reflection on the KG curriculum
The KG curriculum, like other early childhood curricula, emphasizes activity and play-based teaching. However, a critical examination of the curriculum reveals that the curriculum does not define what it means by play and how teachers should go about using it in implementing the KG curriculum. According to Fleer (2013), what a curriculum says about play is important, because that is what guides the planning, teaching, and assessment in the early childhood setting.
Globally, most early childhood curricula (frameworks/guidelines) such as Te Whariki of New Zealand (Ministry of Education, 2017), National Curriculum Guidelines on Early Childhood Education and Care for Finland (Ministry of Education, 2003), Framework Plan for the Contents and Tasks of Kindergarten, Norway (Norwegian Ministry of Education & Research, 2011); Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework of Ireland (National Council for Curriculum & Assessment, 2009) and the South African Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) Grades R- 3 (Department of Basic Education, 2011) make explicit statements regarding planning for play, teaching through play and assessing children’s learning and development through play.
CAPS (2011:20), for example, provides detailed guidelines for enhancing learning through play. The document emphasizes two ways by which teachers can promote literacy learning in Grade R: fantasy play and memory games and purposeful intervention, where teachers use thought-provoking questions during free play to extend children’s thinking and vocabulary.
Regarding planning for play, the Early Childhood Education and Care guideline for Finland (2003) recommends that teachers need to consider the time, availability of materials and space when planning for children’s play. Teachers are encouraged to provide adequate and adaptable equipment to learners to support their play.
As regards assessing children’s learning in the play-based curriculum, Te Whariki at this level is aimed at finding out what children know and can do as well as what their interests are and what further learning experiences and support children might need (Ministry of Education, 2017:63). Accordingly, Te Whariki requires that both formal and informal methods be employed to assess children’s learning, focusing on all aspects of children’s development and learning. To this end, Te Whariki suggests that informal assessment should include methods such as teachers listening to, observing and participating with children in their everyday experiences and events. Te Whariki further adds that taking photographs, making videos and audio recordings and collecting examples of children’s work are some forms of formally assessing children’s learning. Such documentation helps teachers keep track of children’s performance and is an appropriate means of supporting children’s learning.
Part of the gap in the literature that the current study sought to fill was to design a professional development program that equips kindergarten teachers with an approach to delivering the KG curriculum based on guidelines necessary for the successful implementation of a play-based curriculum.
1. CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW AND RATIONALE
1.1 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
1.2 PROBLEM STATEMENT
1.3 RATIONALE FOR THE STUDY
1.4 BACKGROUND AND CONTEXT OF THE STUDY
1.5 CONCEPT CLARIFICATION
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.7 OUTLINE OF CHAPTERS
1.8 CHAPTER SUMMARY
2. CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.2 THE CONCEPT OF PLAY: GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES
2.3 THE IMPORTANCE OF PLAY IN THE LIFE OF THE YOUNG CHILD
2.4 PLAY IN ECE: PLAY RELATES TO LEARNING
2.5 THE ROLE OF ADULTS IN CHILDREN’S PLAY
2.6 EARLY CHILDHOOD CURRICULUM IMPLEMENTATION
2.7 PLAY: AFRICAN PERSPECTIVES
2.8 PLAY IN THE GHANAIAN CONTEXT
2.9 INDIGENOUS PLAY-BASED PEDAGOGIES
2.10 PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES (PDP)
2.11 EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHERS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
2.12 MODELS OF EARLY CHILDHOOD TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES (ECTPDPS)
2.13 EFFECTIVE TEACHER PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
2.14 THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES OF THE STUDY
2.15 CHAPTER SUMMARY
3. CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
3.2 PARADIGM: SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIVISM
3.3 THE RESEARCH PROCESS
3.4 RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
3.5 PARTICIPANTS AND RESEARCH SITES
3.6 DATA COLLECTION
3.7 DATA COLLECTION STAGES AND ANALYSIS PROCESS
3.8 DATA ORGANISATION
3.9 DATA ANALYSIS STRATEGIES
3.10 TRUSTWORTHINESS AS A QUALITY MEASURECTIVISM
3.11 ETHICAL CONSIDERATIONS
3.12 MY ROLE AS A RESEARCHER
3.13 CHAPTER SUMMARY
4. CHAPTER 4: DEVELOPMENT OF AN INDIGENOUS PLAY-BASED PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (IPBPDP)
4.2 RATIONALE FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE IPBPDP
4.3 THEORETICAL PERSPECTIVES THAT UNDERLINE THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE IPBPDP
4.4 DEVELOPING THE IPBPDP
4.5 MY REFLECTIONS ON THE CLASSROOM IMPLEMENTATIONS
4.6 MY REFLECTIONS ON THE PROCESS OF DEVELOPING THE IPBPDP
4.7 CHAPTER SUMMARYERATIONS
5. CHAPTER 5: DATA ANALYSIS AND PRESENTATION OF RESULTS
5.2 DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS PROCESS
5.3 PRE-PROGRAMME RESULTS
5.4 POST-PROGRAMME RESULTS
5.5 EVALUATION OF THE IPBPDP
5.6 CHAPTER SUMMARY
6. CHAPTER 6: COMPARISON OF THE RESEARCH FINDINGS WITH THE LITERATURE
6.2 SUMMARY OF THE LITERATURE AND EMPIRICAL RESEARCH FINDINGS
6.3 BRIEF OVERVIEW OF THE EMPIRICAL RESEARCH FINDINGS OF THE CURRENT STUDY
6.4 CHAPTER SUMMARY
7. CHAPTER 7: REFLECTIONS, CONCLUSIONS, LIMITATIONS, AND RECOMMENDATIONS
7.2 REFLECTIONS ON EACH OF THE PREVIOUS SIX CHAPTERS
7.6 CONCLUDING REMARKSIPBPDP