The role of domestic workers, as child carers, in the stimulation of motor development of preschool children in Bloemfontein, South Africa
Du Plessis, Annemarie
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Introduction: A child’s health and growth are completely dependent on the ability of the person responsible for them to perceive and meet their needs. Domestic workers, as child-carers, spend a lot of time with the preschool children in their care and therefore play a significant role in the daily stimulation of the preschool child. However, it is unclear whether they are knowledgeable of their contribution to help the child develop optimally. Objectives: To describe the role of domestic workers as child-carers in the stimulation of motor development of preschool children in Bloemfontein. Methods: In this study a cross-sectional research design was used. A group of 30 domestic workers and their employers completed the demographic information sheet and questionnaires as well as a structured interview. Results: It is clear from the literature study, that there is very little data available on domestic workers as child-carers in South Africa.The study sample included 30 (female) domestic workers working in the middle-class suburbs of Bloemfontein, with a median age of 48 years as well as their employers. The majority (73.3%) of the domestic workers’ home language was Sotho followed by Tswana (13.3%) while 77% of the employers were Afrikaans speaking and 23% English speaking. 56.7% of the domestic workers’ highest grade passed was Grade 10 (16.7%), Grade 11 (26.75) and Grade 12 (13.3%), where the other 43.3% domestic workers passed Grade 9 and lower, while 69.9% of the employers have obtained a degree or higher. Sixty percent (60%) of the domestic worker have indicated that they have a signed contract with their employer, whilst only 53% of employers indicated the same. According to the employers, 65.5% of domestic workers are responsible for between 7 - 9.5 hours of childcare per day, similarly the domestic workers indicated 63%. Eighty percent (80%) of employers indicated that domestic workers were clearly aware of the expectations of employers regarding childcare duties while 77% of domestic workers indicated that they were clearly aware of the childcare duties expected of them. Seventy percent (70%) of employers expect domestic workers to actively stimulate the child or children in her care for between 1-2 hours while only 57% of domestic workers were complying. Eighty percent (80%) of employers would like their domestic worker to receive further training in childcare while 83% of domestic workers agree. Ninety seven percent (97%) of employers specified that domestic workers were clear about the employers’ expectations regarding domestic duties while only 57% of domestic workers agreed. Motor Development Infant category- the participating domestic worker was not spending a lot of individual time with the infant in this category due to the mother still being on maternity leave. Therefore, the domestic worker did not play a role in the motor development at the time of the study. 4-7 months- in general, domestic workers were often practicing fine and gross motor skills that were specifically important for this age group. Therefore, domestic workers were, sometimes unintentionally, assisting the infant with fine and gross motor development. 8-12 months- it can be reasoned, that domestic workers play a constructive role in the gross motor development of infants between 8-12 months but require further training and guidance to contribute more positively towards the fine motor development of this age group. 13-24 months- domestic workers generally played a positive role in the gross motor development of toddlers between 13-24 months, yet they require some direction regarding object manipulation skills, especially with regards to assisting toddlers with throwing balls underhand and overhand. In contrast, domestic workers did not spend enough time on the stimulation of fine motor skills, especially visual motor skills. As mentioned previously domestic workers are often led by what toddlers want to play instead of what they “need” to play to improve specific motor skills. 25-36 months- it is perceived that when toddlers are older than two years they require a more structured plan to efficiently stimulate the fine and gross motor development. It appears that domestic workers are currently acting in a more supervisory role allowing toddlers to do activities which they prefer or choose instead of encouraging them to do specific activities. 3-4 years- it was found that domestic workers do not play a supportive role in the motor development of preschoolers aged 3-4 years. Conclusion: A conclusion can therefore be drawn that specific and intentional training should be considered directed towards domestic workers as childcare-providers to provide them with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively and intentionally stimulate the motor development of infants, toddlers and preschoolers. Training domestic workers as childcare-providers could possibly not only provide them with more job opportunities and higher salaries but also improve self-confidence and their sense of self-worth as well as contribute to the motor development of the children in their care.