Childcare arrangements made in Maina village: implications for child development
Gichuru, Betsy W.
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Childcare is necessary if a child is to survive, grow and develop. Childcare has primarily been provided by mothers with support from members of the extended family and older siblings. However social and economic changes occurring over the years, affected the ability of family members to provide childcare. Different childcare arrangements were thus made to cope with these constraints. These changes in armngements expose children to different caregivers, activities and environments and have implications on child development, especially in the early years of childhood when rapid development of intelligence, personality and social behaviour occurs. Although childcare arrangements are important for child development, studies in the third world are deficient in information and analysis of their implications on development. This study set out to determine the childcare arrangements made by families and the implications these had on child development. A descriptive survey design with both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis was used. Data were collected through questionnaires from a random sample of 75 families from Maina village, a slum in the environs of Nyahururu town. Observations were then made for a sub-sample of five families drawn from the main sample. Data were analysed for childcare arrangements, reasons for. choice of childcare arrangements and relationships between selected demographic variables and childcare arrangements. Childcare activities and environments were also analysed for their bearing on child development. The findings revealed that the major (71%) childcare arrangement was maternal care. Other arrangements were the nursery school, childcare support by siblings and extended family members. Results on reasons for the choice of childcare arrangements indicated that non-availability of other caregivers, the compatibility of mother's occupations with childcare and mothers preference to undertake childcare of their infants contributed to the prevalence of maternal care. The demographic factors that influenced the choice of childcare arrangements were mothers and children's age. There were positive. implications for child development in maternal care due to caregiving activities that fostered adequate physical growth, development of security and trust, vocalization and cognitive development, motor skills and social behaviour. The nursery school had positive implications for the development of children aged above three years but not for children under three years old. This was because nursery school activities and environments did not cater for their needs. Results on children care by siblings showed that activities carried out differed depending on the maturity of the care giver. Childcare by immature siblings had negative implications due to absence of feeding, affectionate interaction, sanitation and safety. Recommendations for education and training of mothers and nursery school teachers on child development were outlined. Use of child to child approaches to train sibling caregivers on childcare was recommended. Recommendations for developing specific age appropriate activities and materials for under three year oids in the nursery school and expansion of recreational facilities were also delineated.