Date of Award

4-6-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Granting Institution

Lynn University

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)

Degree Program

Educational Leadership

Department

College of Education

First Advisor

Susan Saint John

Second Advisor

Richard Jones

Third Advisor

Sarah Hough

Abstract

Kindergarten is a German term meaning children's garden. In 1837, Fredrich Froebel founded kindergarten and stated, "Children are like tiny flowers; they are varied and need care, but each is beautiful alone and glorious when seen in the community of peers." Froebel believed that children needed to be nurtured and tended to like flowers in a garden. Kindergarten classes, at this time, encouraged children to develop and blossom freely through play under the guidance, not direct instruction, of the teacher. Through the years, kindergarten has changed drastically. Recent legislation has transformed the kindergarten curriculum even more.

Currently, many kindergarten teachers are challenged to teach rigorous state standards to prepare students for academic success. It has been said that kindergarten is the new first grade and the term children's garden is a concept of the past. However, research indicates that kindergarten children gain self-confidence, develop individuality, and enhance social skills while learning through play. Developmental playtime encourages children to explore, investigate, and develop ideas. Teachers need support on how to immerse academic content with developmental play to meet diverse learners' needs.

This qualitative research sought to support kindergarten teachers in adding developmental play back in the curriculum. The researcher provided a pre-survey to ascertain teachers' perception of developmental play and determine what is needed to provide kindergarten students with meaningful developmental play. After analyzing the survey results, the researcher created and facilitated professional development based on the teachers' needs. The data from the post- survey revealed that teachers do believe developmental play is essential. This research found that kindergarten teachers agree developmental play can increase critical social and emotional learning. Additionally, according to the data, providing professional development that demonstrates integrating the current standards with developmental play is beneficial for teachers while planning curriculum. Based on the research results, the researcher concludes that developmental play is a fundamental part of early childhood and vital to a young child's social and emotional growth and development.

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