Background of the Study
The concept of a child differs from one culture to another. Some cultures regard one as a child if one is not married, no matter one’s age. According to Opara (2012), a child is a young person, especially between infancy and youth. In the Nigerian Legal system, a child is one that is below the age of 18 years. This is because the person cannot vote or be voted for. He/she is not also qualified to drive. This is in line with article 1 of the Convention on the Right of the Child by United Nations. Furthermore, Umobi and Igu (2010) define a child as a boy or a girl at any age between infancy and adolescence, a new infant, or a person of any age in relation to his parents.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) in her National Policy on Education posits that the pre-primary school child falls within the age bracket of 0-6 years while Maduewesi (1999) views pre-primary school children as young children between 2-5 years engaged in specially designed academic programmes before the age of formal schooling. It is necessary that all who are involved in the education of the child understand and get acquinted with the pre-primary school child.
The pre-primary school children possess certain characteristics which are peculiar to them. According to Abidoye and Agusiobo (2000), these pre-school children are egocentric. That is, they view the world from their own perspectives. They are curious in nature. Their world is filled with excitement. The curiosity varies according to the center of interest at any given time. The children love exploration and in fact, they are investigators.
Statement of the Problem
The purpose of pre-primary education, among other things, include to effect a smooth transition from home to the school, prepare the children for the primary level of education, provide adequate care and supervision for the children while their parents are at work (market, farm or office etc), inculcate social norms and to teach children the rudiments of numbers, letters, colours, shapes, forms etc through play. In other words, this level of education is meant to guide the growth of a child by promoting responsible behavior, respect for others and the willingness to follow general acceptable rules. It is not meant for actual teaching. This level which is meant to be more of social service and custodian in nature is greatly abused by the proprietors, teachers and the parents. Unfortunately, government controls a very insignificant number of schools at this level, organizations (including religious bodies) and private individuals dominate the scene. The National Policy on Education provided a simple curriculum for this level where little teaching is done through play but this is often not followed as the proprietors overload the curriculum to the point that these children are made to stay long in school in order for the school to cover the curriculum, sometimes not necessarily for educational or social reasons but for economic consideration. In addition, most teachers at this level do not have teaching experience and requisite qualifications. Consequently, they teach the children what is beyond their intellectual development by overloading, overtasking and overburdening them. For instance, they make the children to recite the thirty-six states and their capitals, mould or draw objects, do addition and subtraction; they are given difficult and strenuous homework at the end of the stressful day that may last for 1hour or 2 hours, to be submitted the next school day. Most parents contribute to the problem of over-schooling as they tend to believe that the longer the children stay in school, the more they learn. As a result, they send their children to private schools where they stay long hours in school and also attend schools during the holidays. For such parents, this is “computer age” and they want to push their children to move fast in order to meet up with the new trend. This amounts to over-schooling. Over-schooling at this level can be stressful to the children and in fact makes schooling to be very stressful. Children at this level are denied rest and play which are very necessary for their cognitive, social, emotional and physical development. They are simply exposed to information above and beyond their chronological age and developmental task. Overstimulation of their brain through overtutoring may be detrimental to their mental development and functioning. As over-schooling of children is gaining grounds, particularly in Nigerian private schools, there is a great need to understand the perceptions or view of parents on over-schooling of children at this level of education, and this is the focus of this study.