Leisure Education Programming and Mental Health
1. My philosophy on Leisure
Leisure is a term that could have a different meaning for every individual. The general definition of leisure is the portion of an individual’s time that is not directly devoted to work or work-connected responsibilities or to other obligated forms of maintenance or self-care (Kraus 2001). The English word leisure is derived from the Latin word licere, meaning “to be permitted” or “to be free.” The early Greek word scole or skole meant leisure, which led to the English word school or scholar (Kraus 2001). The meaning of leisure has changed through time.
Everyone has their own definition of leisure. To me leisure is doing something that you enjoy, something that you are good at, or it makes you feel good while you are doing it. I live in the Blue Mountains and love going on bushwalks and bike rides with my friends or family on the weekend. Some people do not see this as leisure, but it makes me feel good inside. I do not think that leisure has to be a physical activity either.
I think helping a friend out when he is in need is leisure. I think some people use leisure as a spiritual expression. Many people go to church every Sunday to worship God. It makes them feel good. This can also be considered leisure. Most definitions of leisure have to do with activities. These are not activities that pertain to work, but I think can be leisure. Some people are fortunate enough to have occupations that they enjoy going to everyday. For example over the years several of my teachers from kindergarten through university say they love to teach!
Leisure implies freedom and choice and is customarily used in a variety of ways, but mainly to meet ones personal needs for reflection, self-enrichment, relaxation, or pleasure (Kraus 2001).
2. Program Report
When any recreation program is being designed, there are a number of key issues that need to be taken into thoughtful consideration. It is with thought and time that ways of overcoming these issues can be sought and a successful program undertaken. The aims of most recreational programs is to have a program that is appropriate for all participants regardless of their personal history, socio-economic status, beliefs, disability, and their social, political and cultural environment (Austin, 2004). These are all issues that are faced when planning, designing, implementing and evaluating a program specifically for pre-school aged group.
2.2 Issues in the design and planning stage
In the planning and design phase of programming an understanding of the individual a recreation program is catering for is vital in having an affective program. Every child has their own special needs, whether they are physical, emotional or intellectual (Ian, 2007). Insight in to the child’s psychological and emotional state-of-being, and their physical and intellectual capabilities gives the designer the information needed to hopefully eradicate some potential problems. When catering for children with physical disabilities a number of considerations need to handled, E.g. adequate access for wheelchairs and mobility aids, activities that can be modified to various abilities and teacher to child ratio shortened to ensure appropriate care and attention is provided (Mayra et al, 2004).
Similar considerations are needed when looking at the various intellectual capabilities of children. Some children’s intellect can develop quickly at a young age where as some children can have impaired intellect and developmental delays. When planning activities for children they should be fun, challenging and stimulating to a variety of intellectual levels (Dattilo, 2002). Or on the other hand, designing multiple, slightly different programs may be appropriate in which students can achieve progression in various areas. As every child has a different family, cultural and social background there is a need for emotional considerations also.
The emotional state of a child can also become an issue, as their life outside of the program is relatively unknown and uncontrollable by the program. Having a fun, upbeat atmosphere and positive attitude from teachers can provide an oasis of kinds for children, a place where they feel safe (Bryan et al, 2008). Providing psychological care in the form of counsellors or qualified personnel could be an effective tool for overcoming potential issues surrounding the child’s emotional stability (Bryan et al, 2008).
Also the variety of cultures and beliefs of Australian children should be taken into careful consideration as to ensure that all aspects of the program are appropriate to all racial and cultural backgrounds and personal beliefs. Hence, considerations need to be met in the food that is provided to the dress codes or uniforms being used (Rossman et al, 2008). Through a thorough understanding of the children’s impairments and ability levels a successful program can be planned and designed.
2.3 Issues in the implementing stage
Implementing a program or initiative into a pre-school, involves a collaborative approach by staff, parents, carers and support from community and government organisations (Hurd et al, 2008). Without this strong connection between those working within the pre-school and those on the outside, parents and supporters, problems surrounding funding, awareness and participation may arise. The political environment of the time of implementation can play a part in the funding success of the program. Having a local government that can provide financial support and help will have a significant, positive impact on the program. Once a program has been developed a strong and enthusiastic leadership team or person needs to be able to engage the help of financial support in order for a program to be implemented (Hood et al, 2007).
There are pre-schools in nearly every socio-economic setting, from disadvantaged to privileged, thus the issue of maintaining a cost effective program also needs to be adhered too. A program needs to be appropriate to the socio-economic status of an area for it to be successful and long-lived. Also a strong system of leadership should be committed too to see out the implementation of a new program (Hurd et al, 2008). With clear documentation and resources available to all staff, parents and carers a common understanding of what is trying to be achieved is known. Having a guide or manual as a reference point can also be helpful throughout the process of implementation.
2.4 Issues in the evaluation stage
When looking at evaluating a leisure program it is important that outcomes, indicators and/or goals were set out before the commencement of the program. By having a set of aims and progression points of what is to be achieved throughout the program, a more effective evaluation can be undertaken (Cunninghis et al, 1996). These outcomes can range from a child’s progression through activities when demonstrating specific skills to overall monetary goals and cost effectiveness. Having a desired outcome set out in most areas of the program gives ease to the evaluator and also a benchmark for further improvements to be made to the program. This is where having good organisation comes in to play.
It is vital for ongoing documentation to take place throughout the duration of the program (Dattilo, 2008). This paints a more accurate picture of what takes place rather than trying to evaluate on an entire program and all its finer details at the end of the program. Furthermore having access to appropriate technologies can also aid in this process. Having computer programs and online documents can decrease the chance of losing paper documents and checklists and a good, simple system can be set-up that can be easily accessed (McLean et al, 2008). This access may become an issue when funding comes in to play. If there is no allocated funds for this technology a more careful and managed approach should be exercised. With proper organisation and recording throughout and at the end of the program numerous issues in evaluation can be drastically reduced.
It can be seen that a number of issues have the potential to arise when planning, designing, implementing and evaluating a program for a pre-school. When taking into consideration a child’s personal history, socio-economic status, beliefs, disability, and their social, political and cultural environment preventative measures can be put in place to stop these issues from occurring. It is with thought and time that ways of overcoming these issues can be sought and a successful program undertaken.