Date of Conferral

1-1-2010

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Teresa Lao

Abstract

Studies indicate the importance of supporting children's creative and social skills during the early years of their development, in part because children can develop low self-esteem when these skills are left unattended in preschool environments. However, as of yet research has not identified strategies preschool instructors used to prepare preschool environments to nurture the development of these skills. This qualitative case study examined how preschool environments nurture the development of preschool children's creative skills and relationships. Grounded in Vygotsky's sociocultural theory and Torrance's theory of guiding creative talent, the study used a purposeful sample of 9 prekindergarten and kindergarten teachers from 5 private preschools. Data were collected from 3 sources: (a) interviews, (b) online websites and school documents, and (c) student artifacts. Data analysis identified related themes, categories, terms, and key phrases using an adapted rubric, and open, axial, and selective coding. Findings showed that preschool environments applied 18 strategies to nurture the development of relationships and creative skills in preschool children. These themes included participation, establishing trust, acceptance/self-awareness, dramatic play, collaborative play, organization, open-ended materials, observation, creativity enhancing curricula, children's transitional processes, encouraging social skills, language application, understanding children's culture, cooperative learning, children's self-concept, teachers' pedagogy, nurturing creativity and preparatory exercises. The study has a positive social impact by providing preschool teachers and administrators with a framework for preparing environments that not only promote academic achievement but also to use to nurture preschool children's creative and social-skills development.