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THE EFFECT OF PRE-PRIMARY SCHOOL EDUCATION ON THE SPEECH DEVELOPMENT OF THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CHILD
The study attempted to investigate the effect of pre-primary school education in the speech development of the primary school child in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. The descriptive research survey was used in this study to carry out the objective assessment of the opinions of 200 respondents selected for this study. In addition, the questionnaire was adopted for the collection of data necessary for this study. Four null hypotheses were generated and tested in this study, with the application of both the Pearson Product Moment Correlation and the t-test of independent variable. At the end of the analyses, the following results emerged:
(1) Hypothesis one showed that there is a significant relationship between pre-primary school education and speech development among children in schools.
(2) There is a significant difference between pre-primary school education and children’s school achievement in schools.
(3) Hypothesis three revealed that no significant difference exists between the speech development of children taught by parents and those taught by teachers.
(4) There is a significant gender difference in speech development by children due to attendance of pre-primary education.
In the final analysis, it would be concluded that children will differ in their mother tongues if they passed through the pre-primary schools than those who did not. It is believed that children who underwent the pre-primary schools develop faster in their speeches than those who went to the primary schools without passing through the pre-primary education. Based on the results, the following recommendations were made:
The National Policy on Education should be reviewed to include, among others, the education of the Nigerian child from 0 – 2 years.
The government should of necessity establish free pre-primary schools to cater for all Nigerian children of the required age.
More Teacher Education Schools for the pre-primary school level should be established to produce the required number of teachers and steps should be taken to ensure adequate teacher preparation.
1.0 Introduction/Background to the Study
A baby is in the making as soon as conception takes place. Normally, it takes 9 months for a full grown baby in the womb to be born into the world, barring all accidents and pre-mature delivery. A baby right from conception, is a unique individual with his or her special characteristics, Caplan and Caplan (1995). According to them, the nature of children is such that no two children are completely the same or alike in everything not even identical twins. Thus, there are obvious differences that differentiate one child from another. Nwagbara (2003), the complexities in children result both from nature and nurture. Children go through different stages of development that is, from birth to young adults. This early years from 2 years to 6 years are critical in their development. During this period, children’s physical, mental and psychological development take a leap as they are in a constant state of flux. They are in the process of undergoing great changes and making significant development strides, especially in the area of language acquisition and development.
As Chukwu (2000) puts it, a child first communicates with her mother non-verbally, but as she starts walking, he/she finds his/her tongue too. As the child starts walking, it is important for the child to know or learn the language of communication with adults around the environment. The adult could be the mother, the father, family members or strangers in the community. This therefore, calls for the acquisition of words. A toddler for instance, deciphers how important it is to communicate thus, moves towards those listening and interested adults who are willing to put a label to her actions.
So, when for instance, the child picks a ball, he is told the name of what he picked. More often, the child repeats the word again and again, and the child becomes pleased with herself that she was able to pronounce the word; he/she picks up another thing. Thus, the child gradually learns the names of every objects around her/him. According to Onuoha (1990), language does not just unfold, it must be learned. For instance, a child needs a teacher; the first one, being the mother, the father, and or siblings in the home. For example, the word ‘hot’ may stand for many things to the child. It may mean fire, hot water, hot food etc. With time, the child may be able to decipher the difference between fire, hot water, hot food as she would try to visualize ‘hot’ in the absence of these representations of ‘hot’. This of course, will take place as the child grows older. Also, a child needs to listen, make sound discrimination, mimic sounds, use them correctly, name objects and arrange words in a meaningful sequence.
Uzozie (1984) opined that it is amazing how a child acquires languages in the very early years, especially if he/she has no brain damage or speech impairment or even psychic disorders.
Nwagbara (2000) is of the opinion that the vocabulary acquisition during early childhood spans from 12 months with an average number of 3 words to 72 months with an average number of 2562 (two thousand, five hundred and sixty two) words. So, children to speak without any deliberate instruction needed to read or write. Much of what they say, have their own rules and often not the same as in adult and speech. Research in this area supports the theory that children do not acquire grammar through practice or imitation like adults do. They have their own rules of grammar. For example, “it does not run”, becomes “not run”. This conforms to their idea of negative statement or sentence. Even when adults give past tense of eat as ate, children will add ‘ed’ to it saying ‘eated’ and stick to it.
Caplan and Caplan (1999) claim that there are many theories about how very young children develop linguistic strategies and learning abilities during their critical period of learning to communicate. According to them, one theory that gets little attention is that children acquired language when they discover the power to play. At this stage, they fantasize and practice language combinations and grammar without fear of failure. They advised that the significant adults should capitalize on this period to introduce songs and rhymes to them as they carry this special sensitivity to their adult life. All sections of language: sounds, grammar, rhythm and rhymes – lend themselves to play. It is only natural that children at this early childhood period, 2 – 6 years discover these play potentials in their emerging language acquisition.
It is believed that children’s reading matter should be linked to their own spoken language as well as to their interest and experiences for intellectual growth. The focus on the cognitive growth of children is a welcome development (Anyanwu, 1991). This is because the brain of a youngster is “tabula rasa” ready to be occupied. Realizing that, educators go into searching for the appropriate stimuli that can yield the best result for the children. Webber (1970) opines that it must be recognized that something can be done about children’s intelligence as a result of the type of experiences provided for them.
Aiyedun (1984) is of the opinion that story books provide such experiences that can make for the intellectual growth of children. According to him, stories provide and improve reading, writing and thinking skills especially as they stimulate the intellect. Stories foster understanding of human actions. Just one story can form the bases for more detailed exploration of other actions. Selected experiences as reflected in story books give children the opportunity to use words that are familiar to them through their family life. Children are thus encouraged to extend vocabulary appropriately. Not only that they learn the vocabulary of colours, shapes, textures etc early in life as their story books are almost always pictorial. For the intellectual development of children, story books give the practice of the four language skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing. They also help children to learn new words as well as alternative meanings of words contextually. This is possible, especially if the language of the stories is not too simple.
According to Ejiogu (1991), stories enrich language use, and gives opportunity for the acquisition of precarious experiences as children learn to identify with characters and learn how others feel. They also help release tension and enlarge experiences of the world especially when introduced at the appropriate time to children. For example a child may compare a bird he/she has seen in the garden to the one he/she has seen in the story book, and may ask his/her teacher to clarify on the aspect that is confusing to him/her. This provides shared experiences leading to greater understanding of birds. Thus, inculcating the habit of reading story books which in increases the intellectual level of children as well as their linguistic competence.
1.1Statement of the Problem
Language acquisition is of paramount importance in the life of a child. This is because any child with one form of language or the other in the society, cannot be expected to be a normal child.
Often times, most parents, especially mothers who are supposed to be the first teachers of their children fail to inculcate the habit of reading story books by their young ones so as to acquire the use of words fast and accurately. No wonder children of these days instead of learning good spoken words from their parents and significant others, rather learn bad languages from their peers due to the fact that they were not taught the proper and appropriate language use and or application.
Many children fail to develop the appropriate language skill may be because their teachers in the school, their parents at home have lost the focus and have failed to see the need in assisting the child to develop his/her linguistic prowess or skills which is very important in human life. As children were not taught by those who are in position to teach how to develop appropriate language skills, these children grow up loosing the grip of either their mother tongue or the English Language which is the second official language of instruction to the child.
Children do not know or master speeches due to the fact that the teachers who teach them at the primary school do not have the mastery content or the methods with which to teach these children and develop their speech. For the fact that children’s speeches are not developed at the grassroots, it affected them even at the adult age. This is why many adults find it difficult to speak fluently either in the private or public arenas.
At the primary stage of development in the lives of most children, they were not taught or directed by older persons or the significant others in the society or at the school, and by their teachers on the appropriate way to develop their language for later life in adolescence and adulthood. The poor language – teaching and poor speech development among primary children is therefore, the issue that gave rise to the investigation of this study.
1.2Purpose of the Study
This study sets out to examine the effect of pre-primary school education on the speech development of the primary school child.
Other specific objectives include:
(1) To examine whether there is relationship between pre-primary school education and speech development among children in schools.
(2) To investigate whether there is a difference between pre-primary school education and speech development among children in schools.
(3) To differentiate between the speech development of children who were taught by their parents and those who were taught by teachers.
(4) To investigate whether there is general difference in the speech development of children who had pre-primary education and those who did not.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions will be asked in this study thus:
(1) Is there any relationship between pre-primary school education and speech development among children in schools?
(2) To what extent can there be any difference between pre-primary school education and speech development among children in schools?
(3) How can we differentiate between the speech development of children who were taught by their parents and those who were taught by their teachers?
(4) How can we investigate whether there is general difference in the speech development of children who had pre-primary education and those who did not?
1.4 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses will be formulated and tested in this study:
2. There will be no significant relationship between pre-primary school education and speech development among children in schools.
3. There will be no significant difference between pre-primary school education and children’s school achievement in schools.
4. There will be no significant difference between the speech development of children who were taught by their parents and those who were taught by teachers.
5. There will no significant gender difference in the speech development of children due to pre-primary education.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study will be of great benefit to the following individuals:
(1) Children will benefit from the findings and recommendations of this study because it will help their teachers and parents to be in good positions to help in teaching or instructing them on the appropriate language to be learned in their communities.
(2) With the recommendation of this study, teachers would be exposed to know how best to go about teaching or handling children at the lower level of our school system, the primary school. Not only that, they would be exposed to the appropriate methods to be used in teaching language to the child in school, especially at the primary school system.
(3) Parents would have a better insight on the essence of teaching the child to gain mastery of the language of his/her environment. Most parents do not know that they are the first teachers of the child at home. This study will expose them to the knowledge that they should be the first people to impart knowledge to the child, especially concerning children’s language development. With this study and its recommendations, parents would be able to know the best techniques to be always used in teaching language to the children.
(4) The society will be exposed to the proper knowledge of language acquisition to the child in the society. With the recommendations, the society will be able to know how best to assist the child in the area of acquisition and mastery of language.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study will cover all the schools (primary) in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. Its main focus will be on the investigation of the effect of preprimary education on speech development of the child in the primary school.
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