Background of the Study

Education is a life-long experience acquired right from birth up till the time of death. It is noted that the series of learning experience put together to form what is commonly referred to as education is a journey of so many miles, which must start as early as the moment a child is born. In the words of renowned educationists like Paiget, the mind of a little child is like a plain slate capable of receiving any impression; it is a “tabular Rasa”. The implication of this, is that the process of guiding the child and helping him to develop productive behaviour must start very early in life so that as he grows up he learns unconsciously and consciously desirable behaviour befitting a perfect and responsible gentleman.

The definition of Early Childhood Education varies in scope and seem to be closely linked to geographical locations. While the main thrust of some definitions is based on age bracket, some consider the environment within which the education is delivered, others combine both. Early Childhood Education has been considered to be a pre-school, semi-formal education outside the home (Oyewumi, Alhassan,  andOfoha, 2010 ). It includes the crèche, the nursery and kindergarten (National Policy on Education 2004).

This program was introduced for children between the ages of 0 – 5 years. In Nigeria, ECE came into being in order to assist and bring early child care within the reach of majority of Nigerian children, particularly those in rural and low socio economic areas. Hence, the Nigerian Educational research and Development Council in collaboration with UNICEF is implementing a low cost, community based and non-formal day care program. Locally sourced educational materials are introduced to caregivers, to provide avenues for cognitive, affective and psychomotor development of the child (Zakariyah 2012).

Oktay (2004) defined the needs of preschool children as good care, trust, action, adult support, support for creativity, developing an aesthetic sense, self-recognition, self-actualization, freedom, being with other children, and playing. The healthy social and emotional development of preschool children is crucial to school readiness and long-term results of academic achievement. (Thompson & Raikes, 2007). Research has shown that early childhood psychosocial interventions yield positive social and emotional outcomes for children (Perry, Allen, Brennan, & Bradley, 2010). However, preschool children cannot benefit from services to meet their needs. Stahmer et al. (2005) found that neglected and/or abused children have developmental and behavioral needs, but only a few children receive services for these issues. Tekin (2012) also emphasized the need for psychological counseling and guidance services for teachers, families, and children in early childhood education.

Positive emotional experiences shared between caregivers and children serve as building blocks for the development of social and emotional skills in the period of early childhood that determines how well children view themselves, each other, and their world (Bagdi&Vacca, 2005). Thus, schools should have guidance services and implement a strong and effective guidance program for the healthy development and well-being of children.

Nigeria subscribed to the Convention Rights of the Child (CRC). In order to domesticate it, a National Policy for Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) was developed and adopted in 2007. It was geared at accommodating children between the ages of 0 to 5. This was consequent upon the discovery that the growth, survival, and development of children within this age group are mutually dependent. The policy would incorporate and develop further interventions on the Nigerian child from relevant sectors. It is based on the premise that ECE for these children, which caters for their physical, mental and social development, is heavily dependent on families and caregivers support (Federal Ministry of Education, 2011).

Generally, ECE is aimed at promoting holistic development of children from birth to age 8. According to Olowe, Kutelu, and Majebi (2014), ECE is any group programme that is designed to promote children’s intellectual development, socio-emotional development, language development, physical development and learning from birth to age 8. Sooter (2013) agreed with Mahuta (2007) by stating the aims of ECE to include fostering proper development of children, identifying and addressing their problems, harnessing their potentials, molding their characters, enhancing their learning and equipping them for life so that their actions are channeled towards positive personal, communal and global development. It is pertinent to note that all ECE activities and programmes are geared towards giving positive early experiences to children. This further underscores the importance of early years. The paramount importance of the early years is widely acclaimed in various international documents and developmental goals such as UN Convention on the Right of the Child, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) goals among others. The government of Nigeria is among the member states that ratified these documents and goals, and this has made the government to come up with various interventions which are geared towards providing quality ECE for Nigerian children.

Early childhood/preprimary education according to the National Policy on Education document is the education provided in an educational institution to children prior to their entering the primary school. It includes the crèche, the nursery, and the kindergarten (NPE, 2004). Ibiam and Ugwu (2009) defined it as the education designed to develop the habits, altitudes and skills needed for primary education. Maduewesi (2005) believes it encompasses the care, development, and education of children below the age of six years. The earliest years of a child’s life are very critical. They influence how the rest of childhood and adolescence unfold. Yet, in most developing countries, including Nigeria, the policies, programmes and budget of the nations have not reflected the seriousness with which the matter ought to be addressed.

Statement of the Problem

Nigeria is currently facing a challenging time in providing for her young citizens’ quality education. Some important issues facing Nigeria’s policy makers include ineffective planning and implementation of programmes, accountability, and management of scarce resources,  shortage of highly qualified early childhood teachers, undefined curriculum and inclusion. In agreement with the above, early childhood educators’ challenges are enormous and they include parent partnership, respect for cultural diversity, appropriate early intervention assessment, and linking curriculum and assessment practices appropriately. In the World Summit in 2001, the Secretary General of the United Nations reaffirmed the world’s commitment to ensuring that every child has a right to the best possible start in life. He identified good quality education, opportunities to develop his or her full potential, and an enabling environment to make positive contribution to the society in meaningful ways as the thematic areas.

A good number of nursery schools in Nigeria are still run by private individuals despite the government lip service of getting involved. The programmes are still faced with the challenges of providing quality training and recruitment for teachers on a continual basis, provision of learning materials that are age appropriate and a nationally accepted curriculum for teaching the children. The facilities and equipment are considered generally poor and ineffective; yet, only wealthy individuals can afford to send their young ones to the private schools. These high school graduates were using the nursery school as a temporal workplace (stopover); as a result, the school proprietors and proprietresses pay them low wages. Furthermore, these often inexperienced, under- motivated teachers have too much workload, therefore, resulting in the children receiving ineffective education and inadequate care, which is bound to affect their eventual growth and intellectual development. The issues, therefore, lies on whether there are integrative and innovative practices in Nigerian early childhood education system; as well as the views of preschool teachers concerning such practices. Hence, the present study investigate the integrating counseling for early childhood education caregivers; benefit, challenges and implications; a case study of Ore Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State.

Objectives of the Study

The main purpose of this study was to investigate the integrating counseling for early childhood education caregivers; benefit, challenges and implications; a case study of Ore Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State. The specific objectives were to:

1.     investigate the challenges facing counselors in integrating counseling into Early Childhood Education in Ore Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State.

2.     examine the roles of counsellors in Early Childhood Education Centre in the study area.

3.     find out the benefits of counseling in Early Childhood Education in the study area.



Research Questions

The following questions were raise to guide the study;

                               i.            What are the challenges facing the counselors in Integrating Counselling into Early Childhood Education in Ore Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State?

                             ii.            Is there any roles of counsellors in Early Childhood Education Centre in the study area?

                          iii.            What are the benefits of Integrating Counselling into Early Childhood Education in the study are?

Research Hypotheses

The following questions hypotheses will be tested at 0.05 level of significance

                               i.            There is no significant relationship between the challenges facing the counselors in Integrating Counselling and Early Childhood Education.

                             ii.            There is no significant relationship between the roles of counsellors and Early Childhood Education Centre.

                          iii.            There is no significant relationship between the benefits of Integrating Counselling and Early Childhood Education

Significance of the Study

The findings of this study are of immense benefits to the following group of people; Ministries of Education, school owners, school counsellors, principals, parents and the students also.

For Ministries of Education; the findings will help the Federal and State Ministries to play their leadership role of policy formation and implementation more effectively. It will also help the Ministries of Education in setting up policy guidelines for states to implement, concerning guidance and counselling services in Nigerian schools (both in Private and Public Schools).

The study will   sensitize and help school owners in either starting up guidance and counsellingprogrammes in their school or strengthening the existing guidance programme in their schools.

 The outcome of this study will sensitize counsellors and principals to organize seminars, workshops, and conferences for parents, pupils and other staffs to create an awareness among them, about the important roles of a guidance counselor in an educational system. This finding will also help the service providers in schools to be more focused and help pupils to handle their problems and adjust to better life than before.

Finally, The findings of this study will also provide information that will help pupils to stop seeing guidance and counselling services as only for those who are weak or have learning and behavioral challenges.

Scope of the Study                                                                                   

This study investigate the integrating counseling for early childhood education caregivers; benefit, challenges and implications; a case study of Ore Odigbo Local Government Area of Ondo State, due to time limit for this research work, this study is limited to both public and private nursery and primary schools in Ore Local Government Area of Ondo State and counsellors would be sample for this research work.

Definition of Terms

          Caregiver: A person who gives care to pupils who need help to taking care of themselves. Caregivers may be Guidance and counseling  professionals, family members, friends, social workers, or members of the clergy.

          Preschool: A preschool is an educational establishment or learning space offering early childhood education to children between the ages of three and five

          Parent: This refers to the one who has begotten offspring or occupies the role of mother or father.

          Counseling:“the process of assisting and guiding clients, especially by a trained person on a professional basis, to resolve especially personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties.”

          Child: Biologically, a child (plural: children) is a human being between the stages of birth and puberty. The legal definition of child generally refers to a minor, otherwise known as a person younger than the age of majority.



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