Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Mary Trube


There is insufficient research about teachers' perspectives on the prepared environment as a component of toddler program curriculum. Previous studies suggested the need to further investigate how teachers prepare toddler program environments to promote children's optimum development to meet their developmental milestones in group-based education. The conceptual framework for this study was grounded in Montessori's prepared environment and Malaguzzi's concept of environment as the third teacher. Twelve teachers with 3-19 years of experience in toddler education programs participated in semistructured interviews to answer three research questions about their perspectives on the prepared environment as a component of toddler program curriculum that promotes children's optimum growth and development, their perspectives on the environment as a third teacher that contributes to toddlers' developmental milestones, and their perspectives on resources they need to implement the prepared environment. Following the coding processes as outlined by Saldaña, data revealed that teachers are purposeful and thoughtful regarding the environment as part of the toddler program curriculum in the following ways: (a) enacting culturally sensitive and developmentally appropriate teaching philosophies, (b) preparing the environment as a third teacher, (c) observing and assessing children in the environment, (d) adapting environments to support all children in meeting developmental milestones, and (e) building relationships with children, families, and communities. Findings from this study will contribute to positive social change in toddler curriculum development and implementation as teachers prepare the environment as a third teacher. Professional learning will prepare staff and contribute to relationship-building among teachers, parents and communities. Social change will occur as toddlers' environments are continuously adapted to support all children in meeting their developmental milestones in group care and education.