Influence of school playground safety on the participation of pre-school children in outdoor activities in Central Division, Naivasha District, Kenya
The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of school playground safety on the participation of preschool children in outdoor activities in Central Division, Naivasha District, Kenya. The study adopted a descriptive survey design to explore how playground space safety, developmentally-appropriate playground equipment, playground surfacing, playgrounds maintenance inspection and the supervision of children in the playground influence the participation of pre-school children in outdoor activities. It also sought to establish the constraints to school playground safety affecting the participation of pre-school children in outdoor activities. To achieve the above objectives, the study used a sample of thirty four (34) preschools. Their stratified sample sizes comprised of thirteen (13) private, four (4) public, eleven (11) rural and six (6) urban pre- schools. The sampled preschools had an enrolment of 1444 children and 77 teachers. Self completion questionnaires were filled by 30 pre-school head teachers (HTs) and 29 teachers. A Likert-type rating scale observation checklist was used to observe playground variables in 29 preschools and 572 children participating in different outdoor activities. Qualitative and quantitative data was descriptively analyzed through descriptive statistics like frequencies, percentages, and correlation coefficients to support different themes. The results of the study showed that despite the many constraints that make it impossible to ensure total playground safety, children continue to use the playgrounds for outdoor activities. The results also revealed that a combination of adequate, orderly and well organized playground spaces, developmentally-appropriate play equipment, proper playground surfacing, regular and adequate playgrounds maintenance inspection and properly organised supervision of children in the playground enables preschool children to effectively participate in outdoor activities. The study findings can be significant to early childhood development and education teachers, administrators, school managers, playground supervisors, concerned parents, child care organizations as well as policy makers of early childhood programmes. They can be used to develop school-based safety programmes to promote, protect and improve the safety status of pre-school children while in the playgrounds. The study makes both institutional and policy recommendations and further suggests it replication in a wider scale or on playground as a teaching and learning tool.