Exploring play of middle childhood children in a poor community in the North West Province : caregivers' experiences
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To play, which is every child’s right, is affected by various factors such as the child’s age, community, culture, background and environment. Children living in poverty stricken communities in South Africa are faced with various challenges such as a lack of resources, violence and drug abuse. Play of children residing in these communities are influenced by environmental and community factors. Limited information is available on play in poor communities, where most of the research was developed in and is more applicable in a Western context. South Africa takes on a more “non-Western” historic context. This research was important as there is no literature available on children’s play in a specific community in the North West Province. To render effective services in a unique country such as South Africa it is required to take into consideration a child’s distinctive background. Professionals rendering services to children from a poor community can utilise these findings to gain greater understanding of children’s play and the constraints affecting play in poor communities. This study, therefore, focused on exploring the experiences of caregivers’ regarding play of their middle childhood children in a poor community in the North West Province, South Africa. Eighteen participants (four men and fourteen women) voluntary participated in this research. The sample size was not determined beforehand, but was based on data saturation. The participants were selected through the use of purposive and snowball sampling where certain inclusion criteria was taken into consideration. Data was collected through three focus group sessions (six participants per group). Additional data collection methods such as collages and field notes was also utilised in this study. A question guide was used to facilitate the process especially when the conversation stagnated. Thematic analysis was used to allocate different themes and subthemes to the data. To ensure trustworthiness of the research process, guidelines suggested by Lincoln and Guba (1985) were applied. The research resulted in the finding that there are different types of play in the community such as physical play, sport, imitation/fantasy play as well as rhythmic play. Caregivers had similar experiences when it came to the types of games children in the community play. It was further found that although the children do not have commercial toys they keep themselves busy with handmade toys which highlighted the creativity of children in this community. It was evident that various factors (such as the environment, the impact of technology and culture) influence the children’s play. Conflicting experiences came to the fore when the caregivers highlighted supportive structures for children in the community, a few of the participants were of opinion that there are some or enough whilst others felt that the community has a great need for more supportive structures. Lastly, certain constraints in the community which influence their children’s play (e.g. poverty, resources, safety and supportive structures) were emphasised. It was found that a child’s direct environment, the poverty in the community as well as the child’s cultural background affect how and with what children in this community play. From the findings of this study it was concluded that children in this community have unique games which can be explored through further research. It was also found that there is a lack of resources or that the resources in the community hold various safety hazards for the children. Caregivers also have a need to become more engaged with their children in play. These caregivers, however, stated that they do not always have the time, therefore, more projects or supportive structures involving play will be beneficial in poor communities.
- Humanities