The child is an important member of the environment and every society recognizes the worth of the child. In all human societies, children are highly regarded and accepted. Children provide for the survival of the society in term of population. It is the children that will promote and custody customs when adults die. Children are marks of honour to their parents, and are regarded as economic assert.
Play is a pleasurable activity carried out for its own sake without reference to ulterior purposes or future satisfaction.
Good (1973), In Nigeria, most people don’t realize the significance of free creative play with objects and materials. Play is not regarded as a vital avenue for children to learn. Unfortunately, most people who work or deal with children have not received the training to enable them to understand the kind of learning inherent in play.
Parent considers children to be young adult who must take their share in the daily activities at home. Childhood is regarded by parent as part of the adult world, and children are not regarded to play, instead children are expected to be useful to the parent at home and imitate the parent. Most parents perceive play as being useless, time wasting and ruinous to the character of the children, especially, if the child comes back home and start using derogatory statement. *See attached sheet.
Cook (2000) revealed that when children given the opportunity to play with play materials, they develop superior communication skills, necessary physical ability and social unity needed in adult life and an increased cognitive and effective educational balance.
Almon (2004) opined that communication is the skill needed to use language with others. This skill enable people to share informant, ideas and feelings and transfer meaning among themselves.
During play activity period, pupils are made to take their turn, share in the use of equipment, react to good performances and otherwise. The child learns from the actions of his peers and also assesses himself/herself from the point of acceptance of his/her peers.
Yuk (200) revealed that leadership is the process through which one member of a group influences other group members towards the attainment of specific goals. During play activities of children, several attributes are in operation such as role playing, sanction, discipline, accommodation, competition and co-operation. This makes the world of children’s play a fertile ground for training and selection of natural leaders.
The National Policy on Education (FRN 2004) emphasized the use of play way method. Children who do not have the opportunity of interacting with these materials may find it difficult to cope with a lot of challenges ahead. Social skills facilitate interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relation are established, communicated, and changed in verbal and non verbal ways. As children grow they enjoy playful interaction with other children. Children learn about boundaries, team work, and competition. Children also learn to negotiate with different personalities and the feelings associated with winning and losing. They learn to share, wait and be patient, through the use of toys. Language development is put into play when children use toys e.g. describing how they are working or using toys, they ask questions and give answers. During this process, the language development of pupils is enhanced.
Cultural values are sometime expressed through roles exhibited in pretend play, individual style, family culture, prior knowledge of children’s play. According to International Association for the child’s Right to play (IPA). Play along with the basic need of nutrition, health, shelter, and education are vital to develop the potentials of all education. Children work out their internal and interpersonal conflicts, gain a sense of autonomy and effectiveness, become motivated to mastery, develop a sense of direction, self-trust, self assurance and worth through play.
Play materials are categorized into two groups; indoor play materials and outdoor plays materials. Under indoor play materials are counters, toys, dolls, shapes of wood of all sizes, san papers, pencils, crayons, magnets, plastics, puzzles, measuring spoons, charts, picture, tables, shelves, mates and face clocks. The outdoor play materials are swings, merry-go-round, climbers/ladders, slides, tunnels, tyres, sand box, balls clay, water through and bath. All these materials are used in carrying out different types of play. They can expand the education outlet for a child and provide dual education. Generally, children play thing should be free from details as possible because school children can’t follow complicated details and rules. Good play equipment is important for children. Play equipment when chosen should be within the children’s interest and ability. Toys, books, records, games and other objects for play should show respect for the children’s world e.g. age.
Staplier (2011) observed that play grounds are often where children learn important social skills that they will use for the rest of their life. Play ground equipment teaches children the value of sharing, patience, discipline, hard work and others.
The developmental pattern of the social domain of the child has a close link with the availability and utilization of play materials at the primary level of education. It has been observed that shortage of play materials in primary school has caused a deficit in the developmental process (Jones. 2002). As a result, most primary school pupils exhibit unacceptable internalized and externalized behaviours such as aggression, defiance, non-compliance, disobedience, fighting, greed, bullying, using abusive words on each other, pushing and tantrum. These behaviours exhibited by pupils at this if not given adequate attention, they can grow up to become harden in heart which lead them into cultism, smoking, drug abuse, unwanted pregnancy, stealing, kidnapping, pre-marital sex and waywardness. The high rate of antisocial behaviour among primary school pupils makes it pertinent to carry out a research on play materials availability, utilization and social skills development of the primary school pupils.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The primary objective of this research was to find out whether there is any correlation between play materials and pupils social skills.
Specially, the study sought:
1.4 Significance of the Study
This study shall be of benefit to:
(a) Parents, Guardians and Teachers by way of exposing the danger of not allowing pupils to interact with play materials.
(b) The study will provide a road map to Head of schools and teachers of primary schools on the modern way of social skills acquisition through the use of play materials while teaching and also at play.
(c) Primary school pupils will benefit from this study by way of having access to interact with play materials when necessary.
(d) This study will serve as a pointer to Government in planning and making available more play materials to primary school pupils as the potentials of these pupils are destroyed for lack of play materials.
1.5 Research Questions
Six research questions were formulated to guide the study.
Six null hypotheses were postulated for testing at .05 level of significance.
Ho1 There is no significant relationship between play materials and pupils communication skills
Ho2 There is no significant relationship between play materials and pupils obeying rules in primary schools.
Ho3 There is no significant relationship between play materials and sharing ability of pupils in primary schools.
Ho4 There is no significant relationship between play materials and pupils leadership tendencies in primary schools.
Ho5 There is no significant relationship between play materials and pupils interactive skills in primary schools.
Ho6 There is no significant relationship between play materials and pupils competitive skills in primary schools.