What are Singapore parents’ perception of play in the early years?
Keywords:Play, Holistic development, Preschool education, Parent education, Teacher education
International research indicate that play is the most effective way for children to learn and develop physically, cognitively, socially and emotionally as well as reduces stress and enhances confidence, curiosity and creativity. Despite the importance and benefits of play for children’s learning and development, play seems to be vanishing from preschool classrooms globally (and in Singapore) for various reasons. It is believed that one of the reasons for this phenomenon could be the lack of parents’ support for children’s play due to their high expectations and demand for academic achievement and the lack of their awareness or understanding on the importance of play in children’s development. Hence, the key purpose of this exploratory study is to gather data from parents on their perception of play and holistic development in Singapore preschools. Data were collected from 30 parents through interviews using a semi-structured questionnaire. The data collected were transcribed verbatim and coded and subsequently, organised by research question and analysed and interpreted constructively and reflexively. The findings of the study revealed that although most Singapore parents understood and recognised the importance of play and holistic development in the early years, some of them wanted preschools to prepare their children academically for primary school. Parents also shared a list of factors which supported or impeded their support for children’s play and some of them felt that they could benefit from parent education programmes. These findings highlight the importance of the school-family-community partnership in the education of young children in Singapore.
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