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The Use of Play as a Learning Strategy on Primary School Pupils Skill Development and Learning Outcomes in Ijebu North Local Government Ogun State


This study employed a quantitative survey research design to investigate the use of play as a learning strategy on primary school pupils’ skill development and learning outcomes in Ijebu North Local Government Ogun State. A structured questionnaire was meticulously designed to gather data from a sample of 120 respondents, reflecting diverse backgrounds and experiences within the region. The collected data was presented and analyzed using SPSS version 27, enabling comprehensive statistical analysis and drawing meaningful conclusions. Hypotheses were formulated and tested using the t-test to assess the relationship between play-based learning and various aspects of skill development and learning outcomes. The findings of this study revealed substantial positive effects of play-based learning on cognitive skill development, social and emotional growth, comprehension of complex concepts, cooperation and teamwork, as well as overall academic performance among primary school pupils. The outcomes validated the significance of integrating play-based learning strategies into the educational framework to foster well-rounded development. In conclusion, the study’s findings underscore the pivotal role of play-based learning in enhancing multiple facets of primary school pupils’ development and academic progress. This research not only contributes to the knowledge base by providing empirical evidence of the benefits of play-based learning but also emphasizes the necessity of implementing such strategies within the local context of Ijebu North Local Government. As recommendations, it is imperative for educational stakeholders to prioritize the integration of play-based learning approaches into primary school curricula and to provide adequate training for educators to effectively harness the benefits of these strategies. This study’s insights hold the potential to shape educational policies and practices, creating more engaging and effective learning environments for young learners. 




 Background to the Study

In recent years, educational paradigms and approaches have been evolving, driven by a growing body of research that underscores the significance of play-based learning and inquiry-based methods in early childhood education. Play, a natural behaviour observed in young children has garnered considerable attention as a powerful vehicle for holistic development, including cognitive, social, emotional, and physical growth (Pellis, Pellis, & Himmler, 2020). This recognition has spurred a paradigm shift in educational philosophy, prompting educators and policymakers to consider play not only as an enjoyable pastime but also as a crucial tool for enhancing learning outcomes (Goldstein, 2016; Zosh et al., 2017).

The transition from early childhood education to primary education marks a pivotal phase in a child’s educational journey, with significant implications for their subsequent academic performance and overall development (UNESCO, 2016). The early years lay the foundation for future learning, making the alignment between early childhood and primary education crucial for optimizing educational continuity and facilitating seamless transitions (OECD, 2018). This transition period has led to the exploration of innovative pedagogical strategies that can foster both developmental and academic progress (Ernst & Reynolds, 2021). Central to this exploration is the notion of play-based learning, which has been associated with positive effects on children’s engagement, motivation, and creativity, thus serving as a bridge between the two educational phases (Fisher et al., 2020; Zosh et al., 2018).

Educators play a pivotal role in translating pedagogical philosophies into classroom practices. Their beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes significantly influence the way instructional approaches are implemented and integrated (van der Heijden et al., 2018). Teachers’ self-perception and understanding of their role as agents of change have been found to influence the adoption of innovative practices such as play-based learning (Moss, 2019). However, this transition from traditional teaching methods to more progressive approaches is often met with challenges. The shift necessitates a reconsideration of teacher training, professional development, and support systems to equip educators with the knowledge and skills needed to effectively implement play-based strategies (Darling-Hammond, 2016; Weisberg, Hirsh-Pasek, & Golinkoff, 2019).

Furthermore, the exploration of play-based learning is situated within a broader educational landscape that is increasingly focusing on student-centred approaches and active participation. The concept of student-centred learning emphasizes tailoring education to individual student’s needs, interests, and developmental levels, thus acknowledging the diverse ways children learn (Hargreaves, 2020). Play-based learning aligns well with this philosophy, as it allows for personalized exploration, hands-on experiences, and opportunities for collaboration and problem-solving (Alfieri et al., 2021; Weisberg et al., 2016).

Guided play, a specific form of play-based learning, has gained traction as an effective pedagogical approach that marries curricular goals with playful engagement (Weisberg et al., 2016). By providing a structured context that scaffolds learning experiences, guided play strikes a balance between fostering creativity and meeting educational objectives (Weisberg, Hirsh-Pasek, Golinkoff, Kittredge, & Klahr, 2016). This approach exemplifies the convergence of playfulness and purposefulness, addressing the tension between allowing children’s natural exploration and achieving specific learning outcomes (Weisberg et al., 2019).

As play-based learning gains prominence in early childhood and primary education, it is imperative to assess its impact on various facets of education. The integration of play-based practices into curricula has the potential to influence not only students’ academic outcomes but also their social and emotional development (Pyle, DeLuca, Danniels, & Wickstrom, 2020). Moreover, the alignment of play-based learning with student-centred education calls for an examination of teachers’ readiness, beliefs, and perceived efficacy in implementing such strategies (Hmelo-Silver, Duncan, & Chinn, 2017).

Consequently, the evolution of educational paradigms and the recognition of play-based learning as a potent tool for holistic development have paved the way for innovative teaching practices. As the education sector continues to evolve, educators are faced with the challenge of effectively implementing play-based strategies and transitioning students from early childhood education to primary education seamlessly. The shift towards play-based learning and guided play approaches offers a promising pathway to achieving both developmental and academic goals, emphasizing the alignment of curricular objectives with playful engagement. Understanding the perceptions and readiness of educators is pivotal in ensuring the successful integration of these approaches into classrooms and optimizing the transition between early childhood and primary education. This study seeks to explore the beliefs and attitudes of teachers regarding play-based learning as they nastudents’is educational shift, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities inherent in this pedagogical evolution.

Statement of Problem

The integration of play-based learning and guided play approaches into early childhood and primary education curricula poses several challenges and complexities that need to be addressed. While these innovative pedagogical strategies hold great promise for enhancing student engagement, creativity, and holistic development, there remains a gap in understanding how teachers’ beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions influence their adoption and implementation. As educational paradigms shift towards student-centred approaches, it becomes crucial to investigate the readiness of educators to embrace and effectively execute these strategies within their classrooms.

One pressing problem is the potential misalignment between traditional teaching methods and the principles of play-based learning. Many educators are accustomed to more didactic approaches, and the transition to fostering guided play experiences that balance exploration and curriculum objectives might be met with resistance or uncertainty (Hmelo-Silver et al., 2017). Moreover, the effectiveness of these innovative approaches relies heavily on teachers’ abilities to scaffold learning experiences and provide appropriate guidance while allowing for open-ended exploration (Weisberg et al., 2016).

Another critical issue lies in the lack of comprehensive teacher training and professional development opportunities that equip educators with the necessary skills to facilitate play-based learning effectively (Darling-Hammond, 2016). The successful implementation of guided play requires a nuanced understanding of how to create an environment that encourages inquiry, problem-solving, and critical thinking while adhering to curricular goals (Pyle et al., 2017). Without adequate support and resources, teachers may struggle to navigate this pedagogical shift and might resort to reverting to more traditional methods.

Furthermore, the attitudes and beliefs of teachers play a pivotal role in shaping the classroom environment and influencing students’ experiences. Teachers’ perceptions of play as a valuable educational tool, their confidence in implementing play-based strategies, and their understanding of the balance between structure and exploration can impact the success of guided play initiatives (Weisberg et al., 2019). Addressing these issues is essential to ensure that play-based learning is integrated seamlessly into the curriculum and that the benefits of this approach are maximized for both educators and students.

In light of these challenges, this study aims to investigate teachers’ perspectives on play-based learning and guided play in the context of early childhood and primary education. By identifying the barriers, facilitators, and considerations that influence teachers’ adoption and implementation of these strategies, the research aims to contribute valuable insights that can inform policy, professional development initiatives, and classroom practices. Ultimately, addressing these issues can pave the way for a smoother transition from traditional teaching methods to innovative, student-centered pedagogies that harness the power of play to foster holistic development and academic success.

 Objectives of the Study

The objectives of this study were as follows:

  1. To examine the influence of play-based learning on the cognitive skill development of primary school pupils in Ijebu North local government, Ogun State.
  2. To assess the impact of play as a learning strategy on the social and emotional skill development of primary school pupils in the same region.
  3. To analyze the relationship between play-based learning and the overall academic learning outcomes of primary school pupils within the specified area.

Research Questions

This study sought to answer the following research questions:

  1. How does play-based learning contribute to the cognitive skill development of primary school pupils in Ijebu North’s local government, Ogun State?
  2. What is the influence of play on the social and emotional skill development of primary school pupils in the specified region?
  3. To what extent does the use of play as a learning strategy affect the overall academic learning outcomes of primary school pupils in Ijebu North local government?

Research Hypotheses

The research hypotheses formulated for this study were:

  1. Play-based learning does not significantly enhances the cognitive skill development of primary school pupils in Ijebu North local government, Ogun State.
  2. The utilization of play as a learning strategy has no positive impact on the social and emotional skill development of primary school pupils within the same region.
  3. There is no significant relationship between the implementation of play-based learning and improved overall academic learning outcomes among primary school pupils in Ijebu North local government.

Significance of the Study

This study holds profound significance for various stakeholders within the education ecosystem, including students, scholars, and the Nigerian education system as a whole.

For students, the study’s findings will directly impact the quality of their educational experiences. Play-based learning and guided play strategies have the potential to enhance engagement, critical thinking, creativity, and holistic development among students. Understanding how teachers’ attitudes and practices influence the effectiveness of these approaches will help tailor classroom experiences that foster deeper learning, better prepare students for future challenges, and contribute to their overall well-being.

Scholars and restudent-centred field of education will benefit from this study’s contribution to the existing body of knowledge. By shedding light on the complexities and nuances of integrating play-based pedagogies, the research can guide further exploration and refinement of instructional methods. The study’s insights can also inform the development of evidence-based frameworks that facilitate effective professional development programs and curriculum design, aligning educational practices with cutting-edge research.

For stakeholders in the education system, such as policymakers, administrators, and curriculum developers, the study’s findings offer actionable insights to shape policies and initiatives. By understanding the challenges faced by educators in adopting play-based learning, stakeholders can develop targeted support mechanisms that empower teachers to navigate these challenges effectively. This, in turn, can lead to the creation of more conducive learning environments, fostering a positive impact on student outcomes and overall educational quality.

In the context of the Nigerian education system, this study’s significance is especially pronounced. As education systems worldwide transform, Nigeria seeks to improve its educational practices to enhance student success and global competitiveness. This research can provide the Nigerian education system with valuable insights into the potential barriers and facilitators of adopting play-based learning and guided play approaches within its unique cultural and educational context. By tailoring these strategies to the specific needs of Nigerian students and educators, the study can contribute to the ongoing efforts to elevate the quality of education and prepare students for a rapidly changing world.

Scope of the Study

The scope of this study encompasses a comprehensive examination of the integration and effectiveness of play-based learning and guided play strategies within the context of early childhood education in Nigeria. The study focuses on primary school educators’ attitudes, perceptions, and practices concerning these pedagogical approaches. It delves into the challenges and opportunities that educators encounter when implementing play-based methods, exploring factors such as teacher beliefs, training, and classroom environment. The research investigates the impact of these strategies on student engagement, academic achievement, and holistic development. While the study primarily targets primary school teachers and their students, it also takes into account the perspectives of educational stakeholders, policymakers, and curriculum developers. By concentrating on the Nigerian education system, the study ensures relevance to the country’s cultural and educational context, facilitating the identification of strategies to maximize the benefits of play-based learning and guided play approaches for early childhood education.

 Operational Definition of Terms

Play-based Learning: A teaching approach that incorporates playful activities and games to facilitate educational objectives.

Cognitive Skill Development: The enhancement of thinking, reasoning, problem-solving, and intellectual abilities in children.

Social Skill Development: The process through which children acquire the ability to interact, communicate, and cooperate with peers and adults.

Emotional Skill Development: The cultivation of emotional awareness, regulation, and expression in children.

Academic Learning Outcomes: The measurable achievements in academic subjects, including improvements in grades and standardized test scores.

Holistic Skill Development: The comprehensive growth of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical abilities in a well-rounded manner.

Curriculum Development: The design and planning of educational programs and materials to achieve specific learning objectives.

Child-centered Approach: An educational philosophy that prioritizes the needs, interests, and autonomy of the child in the learning process.



  • Sinnema, C., Aitken, H., & Otrel-Cass, K. (2019). The relationship between playful activity in the classroom and the social and emotional wellbeing of young children: a review of literature. International Journal of Play, 8(1), 66-80.
  • UNESCO. (2016). Education 2030: Incheon Declaration and Framework for Action for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4. UNESCO.
  • UNESCO. (n.d.). Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000245656
  • Van der Heijden, B. I., Lange, A. H., Demerouti, E., & van der Heijde, C. M. (2018). A systematic review of the relationship between high-performance work systems and work engagement. Employee Relations, 40(3), 429-462.
  • Vincent-Lancrin, S., González-Sancho, C., & Speicher, S. (2017). Innovative Pedagogies in Powerful Learning Systems. Educational Research and Innovation. OECD Publishing.


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