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Preschool environments, relationships and creative skills: A case study

Dissertation
Author: Petronella Anita Cameron
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.

i Table of Contents List of Tables .................................................................................................................... vii List of Figures .................................................................................................................. viii Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study ....................................................................................1 Background of the Study ...............................................................................................2 Statement of the Problem ...............................................................................................5 Purpose of the Study ......................................................................................................7 The Nature of the Study .................................................................................................7 Research Questions ........................................................................................................7 Conceptual Framework ..................................................................................................8 Definitions of Terms ....................................................................................................11 Assumptions of the Study ............................................................................................12 Scope of the Study .......................................................................................................13 Limitations of the Study...............................................................................................13 Significance of the Study .............................................................................................14 Summary ......................................................................................................................14 Chapter 2: Literature Review .............................................................................................16 Introduction ..................................................................................................................16 Varying Perspectives of the Study ...............................................................................17 Policymakers’ Perspectives ...................................................................................17 Practitioners’ Perspectives .....................................................................................19 National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Perspectives ..........19

ii Overview of Social-Competency Skills .......................................................................20 Theme 1: Peer Relationships .................................................................................22 Theme 2: Parent and Teacher Collaboration in Social-Skills Development .........24 Theme 3: The Role of Language ...........................................................................26 Overview of Teacher–Child and Peer Relationships ...................................................30 Theme 4 The Role of the Environment..................................................................31 Theme 5: The Role of Materials ............................................................................38 Overview of Creative Skills .........................................................................................40 Theme 6 The Role of Play .....................................................................................41 Theme 7 The Fine Arts ..........................................................................................47 Theme 8 Teachers’ Role ........................................................................................54 Disconfirming Studies .................................................................................................65 A Review of Differing Methodologies ........................................................................67 Summary ......................................................................................................................69 Chapter 3: Research Methodology.....................................................................................71 Introduction ..................................................................................................................71 Rationale ......................................................................................................................71 Research Questions ......................................................................................................74 The Role of the Researcher ..........................................................................................74 Research Setting and Participants ................................................................................75 Participant-Selection Criteria .................................................................................75 Access to the Population ........................................................................................77

iii Ethical Protection of Participants...........................................................................78 Data-Collection Procedures .........................................................................................80 School Documents .................................................................................................80 Website Documents ...............................................................................................81 Artifacts..................................................................................................................82 Interviews ...............................................................................................................85 Interview Questions ...............................................................................................86 Data-Analysis Strategies ..............................................................................................88 Open Coding ..........................................................................................................88 Axial Coding ..........................................................................................................89 Selective Coding ....................................................................................................90 Discrepant Data ......................................................................................................90 Memorandum Writing ...........................................................................................91 Verification ..................................................................................................................91 Validity ..................................................................................................................91 Reliability ...............................................................................................................92 Pilot Study ..............................................................................................................93 Summary ......................................................................................................................94 Chapter 4 Findings .............................................................................................................96 Data-Collection Procedures .........................................................................................96 Documents .............................................................................................................97 Interviews ...............................................................................................................99

iv Data Management ................................................................................................102 Researcher’s Bias .................................................................................................102 Evidence of Data Collection ................................................................................103 Data Analysis and Emerging Understanding .............................................................103 Constant-Comparison Methods ...........................................................................103 Coding Process.....................................................................................................104 Memo Writing ......................................................................................................104 School-Document Analysis .................................................................................105 Websites-Document Analysis ..............................................................................105 Artifact Analysis ..................................................................................................106 Interview Analysis ...............................................................................................107 Research Findings ......................................................................................................108 Findings From School and Website Documents ..................................................108 Artifact Findings ..................................................................................................115 Interview Findings ...............................................................................................123 Discrepant or Disconfirming Data .............................................................................176 Interview Responses ............................................................................................176 School and Website Documents ..........................................................................178 Artifacts................................................................................................................178 Evidence of Quality ...................................................................................................178 Summary ....................................................................................................................179 Chapter 5: Conclusions, Implications, and Recommendations .......................................182

v Overview ....................................................................................................................182 Interpretations and Conclusions of Finding ...............................................................183 RQ 1 .....................................................................................................................184 RQ 2 .....................................................................................................................195 Implications for Social Change ..................................................................................208 Recommendations for Action ....................................................................................209 Recommendations for Further Study .........................................................................210 Researcher’s Reflection .............................................................................................211 Summary ....................................................................................................................212 References ........................................................................................................................214 Appendix A: Letter of Permission From the Director .....................................................228 Appendix B: E-mail Sent to Teachers .............................................................................229 Appendix C: Sample Coded Excerpt From School B Curriculum ..................................231 Appendix D: Sample Coded Excerpt From School E Curriculum ..................................232 Appendix E: Coded Sample School A and B Copies Of Children’s Art Projects ...........233 Appendix F: Coded Sample School C and D Copies Of Children’s Art Projects ...........235 Appendix G: Permission to Use the TTCT ......................................................................238 Appendix H Interview Questions.....................................................................................239 Appendix I: Audit Trail ...................................................................................................240 Appendix J: Coding Transcript Examples .......................................................................245 Appendix K: Code Abbreviations and Definitions ..........................................................247 Appendix L: Adapted Rubric From Torrance ..................................................................248

vi Appendix M: Raw Data ...................................................................................................249 Curriculum Vitae .............................................................................................................263

vii List of Tables Table 1. 13 Creative Strengths Framework .......................................................................84 Table 2. School Artifacts Evaluation ...............................................................................116 Table 3. Interpretations of the Findings ...........................................................................184

viii List of Figures Figure 1. Interrelationships of elements in the conceptual framework. .............................11 Figure 2. The relationship among language, cognitive processes, cultural competency, decision-making skills, and interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. ...............22 Figure 3. Themes for RQ 1. .............................................................................................109 Figure 4. Themes developed for RQ 2. ............................................................................113 Figure 5. Creative strengths across schools. ....................................................................117 Figure 6. Themes developed for RQ 1. ............................................................................119 Figure 7. Themes developed for RQ 2. ............................................................................121 Figure 8. Diagram of themes for RQ1. ............................................................................131 Figure 9. Diagram of themes for RQ 2. ...........................................................................155

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Chapter 1: Introduction to the Study Early childhood educators are continuously faced with the challenging task of promoting academics during the early years of children’s development. This focus has reduced the time available to prepare preschool environments that can foster the development of their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills (Feldman & Benjamin, 2006). Interpersonal relationships refer to the relationships that children establish with others, whereas, intrapersonal relationships relate to how children view themselves in relation to others (Gardner, 1983). The term creative skills refers to children’s ability to develop original ideas, and create and solve problems (Duffy, 2006). Children must be provided opportunities in preschool environments that allow them to communicate effectively with their peers such that they can develop their creative skills and their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). When these relationships are good, children are able to use their creative skills to express their feelings, to enjoy art, drawing, painting, and music, to develop original ideas, and to improve their emotional responsiveness (Fraser, 2000; Torrance, 1977). Therefore, the preparation of preschool environments can be a viable approach to support the development of preschool children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills, which, in turn, may increase academic achievement. Intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships serve as a foundation for children’s social-competency skills (Han & Kemple, 2006). Another major component related to social-competency skills is children’s ability to use language effectively in developing intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships (Han & Kemple, 2006). Children can

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express their creative and social skills in preschool environments that provide various play experiences and a variety of flexible materials (Fraser, 2000; Katz & Chard, 2000). This study focuses on how preschool environments affect preschool children’s development of interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. Studies showed that when children’s creative skills are left unattended in preschool environments, they suffer from low self-esteem and experience difficulties in building social skills (Ladd, Herald, & Kochel, 2006; Maslow, 1987; Torrance, 1964). The purpose of the study was to examine strategies used by teachers in preschool environments to determine whether preschool environments nurture the development of preschool children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. Two specific research questions were explored using a qualitative case-study methodology. In this chapter, the background, problem statement, purpose, nature, conceptual framework, and significance of the study were presented, followed by terms, assumptions, scope, limitations, and summary. Additional detailed discussions related to the study are provided in Chapter 2. Background of the Study It is important to conduct this study because the environments for preschool children play a critical role in development of intrapersonal and interpersonal relationships, cultural competency, emotional regulation, and many other domains of social-competency skills. Children’s creative skills and interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships continue to be an ongoing and controversial topic among parents, teachers, and early childhood educators (J. E. Johnson, Christie, & Wardle, 2005). This research study focuses on the effect of preschool environments on the development of preschool

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children and how these environments might nurture their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. Because interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships are embedded in social-competency skills, both of these terms are used interchangeably throughout the study. Parents and teachers view social-competency skills as children’s ability to achieve or accomplish specific social tasks, rather than considering competency from the child’s perspective (Hutchby & Moran-Ellis, 1998). Studies (Appl & Spenciner, 2007; Lillvist, Sandberg, Bjorck-Akesson, & Granlund, 2009) suggested that, although positive environmental factors are necessary in fostering social-competency skills, teachers perceptions of social-competency skills are more important. This finding implies that teachers are responsible for assisting children in developing appropriate social- competency skills as teachers and children relate to each other. This assistance can be effective when teachers provide supportive environments that can foster those skills. It was not until the 18th and 19th centuries, the beginning of the Progressive Era, when living conditions improved and early childhood educators, including Vygotsky (1978) and Piaget and Inhelder (1969), developed theories to understand and support children’s overall development. During the Progressive Era, teachers and administrators took children’s development seriously and sought to provide new strategies to foster specific skills in young children by supporting various forms of play (Fantuzzo, Sekino, & Cohen, 2004). Thus, when teachers assisted children as they worked together on various activities or projects, children were able to exchange ideas with the teachers and their peers, which in turn developed their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills.

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Teachers and parents must take time to assist children in building these various components because children can develop these skills only with responsive adults. In addition, the relationships that children establish with their peers serve as a significant force in enhancing interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. According to Katz and McClellan (1997), “social competence involves a complex interplay of feelings, thoughts, and skills” (p. 1). Hutchby and Moran-Ellis (1998) proposed that children’s social competency skills must be situated in a setting where children interact. In addition, children should be provided with the materials and cultural resources required to engage in developing interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. Matson and Ollendick (1988) suggested that when children’s social-competency skills are being observed by teachers or other adults, these skills can be enhanced as adults provide opportunities for them to share, negotiate, and work together. The second aspect of social-competency skills relates to how children perceive themselves, known as individuation (Hutchby & Moran-Ellis, 1998). In this phase, children may attempt to define their sense of worth based on societal expectations. Children may also learn to adapt their personal characteristics, that is, where they are aligned with the requirements of interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, occupational, sex, and family roles (Hutchby & Moran-Ellis, 1998). Hussong, Zucker, Wong, Fitzgerald, and Putler (2005) indicated that social-competency skills entail children’s ability to establish and maintain friendships, to develop social skills in relating to their peers and fostering popularity. However, children develop social-competency skills in various aspects of their development, particularly when they engage in different forms of play (Spodek & Saracho, 1995). Gagnon and Nagle (2004) posited, “children

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learned to regulate their emotions and to develop a shared understanding of social norms and expectations when they engaged in peer play” (p. 183). This finding suggests that when children are provided with opportunities in preschool environments to help them develop their social and creative skills they will understand how to establish relationships with their peers and be open to new ideas. Because preschool environments can affect the development of interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills for preschool children, the results of the study will provide teachers with other strategies to prepare preschool environments that might nurture those skills. The preparation of these environments will aid children’s transitions in schools and may contribute to academic achievement. Statement of the Problem An initial review of the literature revealed that interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships relate to social-competency skills and that a child’s ability to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships is essential to overall development of social skills (Hussong et al., 2005). The problem is that children develop low self-esteem interacting in preschool environments with their peers and thus are unable to develop positive relationships (Ladd et al., 2006; Maslow, 1987). Thus the environment in which children interact plays a critical role in the development of their interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. A large portion of the literature discussed strategies that can be used in supporting, teaching, and assessing social-competency skills (Denham, 2006; Han & Kemple, 2006). Other studies discussed the effect of language impairment on social-competency skills, and on teachers’ and parents’ perceptions of social-competency skills (Honig, 2006; Kang, 2007; McCabe & Meller, 2004). These

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studies all emphasized the fact that preschool environments are directly related to social- competency skills in general. Children’s ability to engage in sustained attention is important because social problem solving is related to some form of unexpressed creative skills and positive feedback from others (Murphy, Laurie-Rose, Brinkman, & McNamara 2007). This finding suggests teachers can be supportive by preparing environments to engage children in creative group activities and nurturing those creative and social skills through positive and warm responses. Children’s creative skills are critical to their development as fully functioning human beings (Fraser, 2000; Gardner, 1983). H. M. Marshall (1998) viewed social- competency skills as the effective use of language: social and emotional skills are used to interact with others. Social-competency skills also include children’s ability to understand the application of social standards for social interaction in their communication approaches with their peers (Hussong et al., 2005). Teacher–child relationships necessitate social interaction and communication. Social-competency skills entail the effective use of language, decision-making skills, cultural competency, cognitive skills, and interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. What was not given in the literature is how to provide preschool environments with tools and resources that can nurture the development of preschool children’s creative skills and interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships. This study provides early childhood teachers and administrators with a framework to prepare curricula that are creative and also focus on improving academic achievement.

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Purpose of the Study The purpose of the study was to examine strategies used by teachers in preschool environments to determine how preschool environments nurture the development of preschool children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. The Nature of the Study The study used a qualitative case-study design to gain knowledge about how preschool environments impact the development of preschool children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. The study was conducted in the western United States. Nine teachers from five private preschools participated in the study. Data was collected from three sources: (a) comprehensive open-ended, structured and semistructured interviews; (b) documents from the schools and online websites, including newsletters, school policies, and curricula; and (c) artifacts of children’s artwork, including photographs of paintings, drawings, and collages. A qualitative case study was used to gain a deeper perspective of how meaning related to the environment is socially constructed by the participants in interaction with their world (Merriam & Associates, 2002). I was the primary data-collection and -analysis instrument, which involved intensive fieldwork and the application of an inductive approach. This qualitative case-study approach allowed me to describe, discover, and probe for deeper meanings from participants’ perspectives and analyze the data, identifying themes, recurring patterns, and categories using open, axial, and selective coding. Chapter 3 provides an in-depth explanation of the research design. Research Questions The study sought to answer two main questions:

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1. How do preschool environments impact the development of preschool children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships? 2. How do preschool environments impact the development of preschool children’s creative skills? Conceptual Framework The study is grounded in the overarching approach of Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory and Torrance’s (1964) theory guiding creative talent. Three major tenets of Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory are social interaction, the zone of proximal development, and the role of language. Torrance’s guiding creative talent theory discusses children’s creative skills by relating how creative talent can be encouraged, the need for concern about children’s creativity, identifying the creative personality, creative development, and goals for guiding the creative talent. Vygotsky (1978) theory stated that “social interaction is characterized as the relationship between the biological bases of behavior and the social conditions in and through which human activity takes place” (p. 124). Vygotsky attempted to understand how children’s development is influenced by their environment, culture, and language. Vygotsky proposed that children interact with each other through social speech or language, the signs and perceptions that enable them to understand the physical and behavioral characteristics of preschool environments. As Vygotsky indicated, the environment, culture, and language are critical elements for children in establishing and maintaining relationships among teachers and peers; these elements also reflect the overall level of social-competency skills. Vygotsky (1978) developed the concept of the zone of proximal development to define the potential and actual development of children. Potential development relates to

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the activities that children are unable to accomplish independently, but would be able to accomplish with the assistance of a competent peer or an adult. Potential development, in contrast, relates to the tasks that children can accomplish by themselves. Potential and actual development are important because, based on Vygotsky’s theory, children’s may have acquired skills that are immature, which can be classified as potential development. However, these can be either creative or social skills or both and they can be cultivated to maturity with the support of responsible adults or peers. Children’s actual development relates to the activities they can accomplish independently, which means that they can work on creative or social tasks where the demand for assistance is not as great as that needed during their potential development. The zone of proximal development is applicable to the study because it provides a framework to guide early-childhood educators in their attempts to understand the internal and external processes of children’s development. Torrance’s (1964) theory was also used as a conceptual framework because it provides teachers with the skills to identify and support creative talent. In order for teachers to support creative skills, they must be able to identify the characteristics of creative children. Torrance believed that creative skills can be assessed through the lens of originality, fluency, flexibility, and elaboration of children’s ideas: cognitive skills reflected in their communication and various activities. Torrance stated that assessing children’s creative skills is a necessary step in identifying the specific abilities that children acquire that are considered to be essential elements in their development. Torrance indicated that the natural way for children to learn is to be able to employ their creative skills through drawing, dancing, painting, language, and music. These

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opportunities help children develop critical-thinking skills and become fully functioning individuals. As children participate in creative activities, they are able to express their internal desires, which contributes greatly to how they feel about themselves in relation to their capabilities (Torrance, 1964). Teachers can be valuable resources to facilitate the creative process through the kind of classroom culture they provide and their teaching approaches. Children need to feel that their creative aspirations are being acknowledged and supported in warm responsive preschool environments. In addition, children need to be able to express themselves using various media that include their abilities to use language effectively to communicate their ideas. Teachers must be supportive of children’s creative skills by encouraging children to explore, experiment, construct, and hypothesize (Torrance, 1964). Furthermore, teachers and administrators can show their concern by implementing effective approaches in the curriculum that can identify children’s creative skills in music, art, sports, mathematics, and divergent thinking (Gardner, 1983). Figure 1 shows how relationships and creativity are influenced by society, culture, teacher’s pedagogy, and the settings in which social interaction occurs. Vygotsky (1978) stated that children’s abilities to interact in warm and supportive environments are germane to their development of social skills. In such contexts children are able to apply language effectively in communicating with peers and it is through these social interactions they learn about themselves and others. Bronfenbrenner (1979) indicated that societal values and beliefs also influenced how children feel about themselves, and their capabilities. The activities that occur in these settings impact their interpersonal and intrapersonal relations.

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Cultural competency. An individual who understands how to respect and value other cultures, enabling them to develop effective relationships (Han & Kemple, 2006). Emotional development. Children’s ability to control their emotions to a point at which they are able to use those emotions appropriately (Duffy, 2006). Individuation. The second aspect of social development, which relates to how children view themselves and differentiate themselves from others (Hutchby & Moran- Ellis, 1998). Intrinsically motivated. Activities and ideas that emerge naturally from the child that do not involve adult input (Gardner, 1983). Language impairment. An individual’s inability to use language effectively (McCabe & Meller, 2004). Linguistic intelligence. The capacity to use language to convince other individuals, and to assist in remembering information (Gardner, 1983). Logical-mathematical intelligence. The ability to engage in solving problems that are unrelated to communicative processes or a particular medium (Gardner, 1983). Multiple intelligences. Gardner’s theory (1983), which includes children’s musical, mathematical, linguistic, and physical abilities. Scaffolding. A term used by Vygotsky (1978) that involves the teacher’s ability to help a child build on previous experiences and learning. Assumptions of the Study Four assumptions are associated with this study: 1. The principal of the school chose the most experienced teachers to participate in the study; therefore, it was assumed that these teachers

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would provide more detailed responses to the interview questions. This assumption is based on the notion that experienced teachers will have more to share about best practices and classroom activities. 2. Early childhood teachers focused only on providing environments that support children’s academic achievement; thus paying little or no attention to creative and social-skills development. 3. Supportive preschool environments enhance preschool children’s self- esteem. 4. It is assumed that the teachers will share their honest feelings and were not influenced by my presence in the classroom during the interview sessions. Scope of the Study 1. This qualitative case study included interviews with 9 teachers, a collection of documents from five private preschools and their websites, and artifacts of children’s artwork from these private schools. 2. The study was conducted in five private preschools with only kindergarten and prekindergarten teachers participation. Limitations of the Study 1. This case study was limited to five private pre-schools located in California. Public and Charter schools were not considered because it was during the summer when the schools were selected and these schools were not conducting classes in the summer. 2. The study’s participants were all female teachers from only prekindergarten and kindergarten preschool environments; the inclusion of

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male teachers may have presented a different perspective (Cameron, 2001). Significance of the Study This study may provide various teaching strategies that can be applied in preschool environments to help teachers in nurturing the development of children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. The study may also provide teachers with the tools and resources to support and shape children’s outlook on themselves, their peers, education, and their world. This study provides positive social impact in that it provides early-childhood teachers and administrators with a framework for preparing environments that not only promote academic achievement, but also nurture preschool children’s creative and social-skills development. When children develop interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, they can establish and maintain friendships; they can apply their ability to explore, discover, and apply their creative skills in preschool environments (Damon, 1988; Gardner, 1983; Hussong et al., 2005; Torrance, 1964). Bredekamp and Copple (1997) argued that preschool environments must be considered a community that focus on building creative skills and positive relationships among teachers, children, and parents. Summary The purpose of the study was to examine strategies used by teachers in preschool environments to determine how these environments nurture the development of children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. This chapter presented an introduction to the study, provided the problem to be examined, and the purpose and nature were described. Several studies were presented that outlined the

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background of the study related to preschool environments, creative skills, and relationships. A qualitative case study was discussed in how it relates to the nature of the study. Two major questions were developed: (a) How do preschool environments impact the development of preschool children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships? And (b) How do preschool environments impact the development of preschool children’s creative skills? The study was grounded in the overarching approach of Vygotsky’s (1978) sociocultural theory and Torrance’s (1964) guiding-the-creative-talent theory. In addition, key operational terms used in the study were defined and presented, followed by a discussion of the assumptions, scope, limitations, and significance of the study, concluding with a summary. Chapter 2 explores current research relevant to the study and the research questions. Chapter 3 presents the research method used in conducting this study. Chapter 4 presents the data-collection and analytical procedures, and Chapter 5 presents summaries and interpretations of the findings.

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Chapter 2: Literature Review Introduction The purpose of the study was to examine strategies used by teachers in preschool environments to determine how these environments nurture the development of children’s interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills. Children’s development is influenced by many variables. Among them are divorce, single-parent homes, and diversity issues (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Teachers must provide preschool environments that enable children to develop interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships and creative skills (Torrance, 1977). This chapter presents a discussion of theories, ideas, and methods. Disconfirming literature is also presented. The literature review entailed a thorough search of various online databases to locate peer-reviewed journals from the last 5 years. These databases included Ebsco Host database which contain ERIC (education), Education Research Complete, Academic Search Premier (a generalist database) ProQuest Central, and Academic Search Complete. In addition to online sources, libraries were used to provide more information in preparing the review. These sources included a variety of journals and scholarly books from California State University, University of Los Angeles California, and Los Angeles Public Library. Keywords and phrases used in the search included academics achievements, creative skills development, language efficacy , social competence skills , preschool environments, interpersonal relationships, collaborative play, prosocial skills, social interaction, teachers’ role in children’s development, and fine arts. I examined more than 60 studies; 50 were retained that were germane to the topic. For instance,

Full document contains 279 pages
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.