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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SCHOOL CLIMATE AND CAREGIVERS’ ATTITUDE TOWARDS EARLY CHILD CARE DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION
The study attempted to investigate early childhood caregivers’ attitudes in the early childhood education in selected nursery schools in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State. In this study, some relevant and related literatures were reviewed under sub-headings. The descriptive research survey design was applied in the assessment of the opinions of the respondents with the aid of the questionnaire and the sampling technique. A total of 200 (Two hundred) respondents were used in this study. A total of three null hypotheses were formulated and tested in this study with the use of the Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient statistical tool. All the hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. At the end of the tests, the following results emerged: there is a significant relationship between school climate and caregivers’ attitudes towards early child care development, there is a significant relationship between schools’ physical environment and caregivers’ attitudes towards early child care development, and there is a significant relationship between schools’ social environment and caregivers’ attitudes towards early child care development. It was therefore recommended that the school environment should be made conducive for teaching and learning by providing a well-motivated workforce with necessary equipment and facilities put in place.
1.1 Background to the Study
The role of the early childhood caregivers is central to the attainment of the goals of the early childhood education. Children’s development and learning are fostered through their interactions with caring human beings in secure, nurturing, and stimulating environments. The process of providing stimulating learning environments is, in most cases, a whole gamut of efforts and activities carried out under the care and the guidance of caregivers with dedicated knowledge, experience and expertise. According to Engle and Lhotska (1999) a caregiver is the person who looks after infants and young children, it embodies past and future perspective and deep emotional involvement in the rearing and socialization of a young child to provide the food, healthcare, stimulation and emotional support necessary for children’s healthy survival, growth and development.
Caregiving quality is measured not only the practices themselves, but also the way they are performed – in terms of affection and responsiveness to the child – are critical to a child’s survival, growth and development (Engle & Lhotska, 1999). Hence, Sonawat and Furia (2006) opined that a good early childhood teacher is one who has inner security, self-awareness, integrity, theoretical ground and general knowledge with emphasis on environmental science, community and young children’s books, warmth and respect for the child.
However, care-giving is a professional involvement process that emphasizes the right attitudes on the part of the practitioners. Commenting on attitudes of preschool teachers in raising young children, Curtis (2003) identifies positive attitude towards and respect for children as individuals irrespective of their race, sex or religion as well as good interpersonal relations among colleagues as quality indicators for pre-school staff. The word “attitude” means the individual’s prevailing tendency to respond favourably or unfavourably to an object, person or group of people, institutions or events (Morris & Maisto, 2005). Attitudes can be positive (values) or negative (prejudices). According to Kreitner and Kinicki (2007), there are three components of attitudes: affective, cognitive and behavioural. The affective component is a feeling or an emotion one has about an object or situation. The cognitive component is the beliefs or ideas one has about an object or situation, whereas the behavioural component of attitude reflects how one intends to act or behave towards someone or something (Kreitner & Kinicki, 2007). In most situations, the three components appear concomitantly to shape caregivers’ classroom postures, through direct and indirect interaction between society, school and caregivers (Leite, 1994).
Attitudes towards work mean perceptions that affect how employees perform in their positions. In the mid-1970s, Brophy and Good (1974) reported that many educational researchers have supported the idea that caregivers’ attitudes and expectations can be self-fulfilling prophecies. Brophy and Good (1974) also proposed that once caregivers develop a particular attitude or belief, they may begin to treat students differently in ways that help bring about the outcomes that they expect.
In order to understand caregivers’ attitudes and understand how attitude reflects caregivers’ behaviour, we may have to examine the context within which they work. In other words, there is the need to explore the relationship between the school climate and caregivers’ attitudes. The term ‘school climate’ describes the environment that affects the behaviour of teachers and students. Indeed, anyone who spends time in schools will quickly discover how one school can feel different from other schools. School climate is a general term that refers to the feel, atmosphere, tone, ideology, or milieu of a school. Just as individuals have personalities, so too do schools; a school climate may be thought of as the personality of a school.
School climate characterizes the organization at the school building and classroom level. It refers to the “feel” of a school and can vary from school to school within the same district. While an individual school can develop a climate independently of the larger organization, changes in school culture at the district level can positively or adversely affect school climate at the building level. School climatereflects the physical and psychological aspects of the school that are more susceptible to change and that provide the preconditions necessary for teaching and learning to take place.School climate, is evident in the feelings and attitudes about a school expressed by students, teachers, staff and parents—the way students and staff “feel” aboutbeing at school each day.
Several aspects of a school’s physical and social environment comprise its climate. These include: appearance and physical plant; student interactions; leadership/decision making; disciplined environment; and learning environment. The comprehensive BRIEF defines school climate in terms of four aspects of the school environment:
1.2 Statement of Problem
Although it is widely recognized that the early childhood caregivers play quite significant roles in fostering the holistic development of children, yet in the performance of these roles some of the caregivers are found to be displaying attitudes which seem to be consistently falling short of the expectation of the school authorities, parents, policy-makers and educational stakeholders. While many have looked in several directions for an explanation of this unwholesome development, not many studies have explored the possible relationship between the school climate and the caregivers’ attitude towards early child care development and education (ECCDE). Whatever solutions that are proffered to the declining standards at this foundational level of education can only be possible where there is a positive school climate – large classrooms, adequate seats and adequate number of ethics conscious teachers in a school.
However, observation would reveal that the picture in many schools and colleges present climates that are far from the ideal. Overcrowding, dilapidated structure, substandard facilities, work overload, administrative high-handedness, poor interaction culture, poor remuneration, etc. have become regular features in many ECCDE institutions today. This may exert significant influence on the attitude displayed towards work by the ECCDE caregivers and may directly or indirectly affect the quality of care and education the children receive under these caregivers.
This study therefore is being undertaken to fill the gap in our knowledge on the possible relationship that may exist between school climate and caregivers’ attitude towards early child care development and education in Local Government Areas of Lagos State.
1.3 Purpose of Study
The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between school climate and caregivers’ attitude towards early child care development and education. The purpose of this study therefore is to:
1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions are raised:
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following research hypotheses will be tested in this study:
1.6 Significance of Study
The popularity of nursery schools across the nation has brought the issue of school climate to the fore. When children are placed in a climate where the relationship between school climate and caregivers’ attitude towards early child care development and education is positive they grow up to be assets to their parents, community and the nation as a whole.
This study therefore becomes important in as much as it would provide an insight relationship that exists between school climate and caregivers’ attitude towards early child care development and education. The findings of this study would be useful for decision-making process on matters affecting early childhood development programmes. It will also assess the roles the various stakeholders, school owners, teachers, schools, inspectors, parents etc. in ensuring conformity to the prescribed standards of curriculum implementation.
1.7 Scope of Study
This study seeks to investigate the relationship between school climate and caregivers’ attitude towards early child care development and education in Mainland Local Government Area of Lagos State.
The variable scope for this study will include the physical environment, social environment, teachers’ attitudes etc.
1.8 Operational Definitions of Terms
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