Perceived Influences of Significant Life Experiences on Early-Childhood Educators' Teaching Practices
School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
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The first purpose of this qualitative study was to explore self-reported significant life experiences of early-childhood educators to determine how experiences of traditional pre-K educators differed from those who taught in nature-based programs. The second purpose was to explore whether these experiences influenced their teaching practices. I interviewed ten traditional pre-K teachers and ten nature-based teachers to obtain reports on whether early experiences influence their teaching practices. The nature-based participants were reportedly more influenced by early outdoor experiences and the traditional pre-K participants were reportedly more influenced by role models. The findings from the nature-based participants align with prior research on significant life experiences. That is, those who have memories of early outdoor experiences continue to exhibit concern for the environment in their adult lives emphasizing the importance of outdoor experiences for all young children. I recommend that the philosophy and practice of nature-based programs should become part of teacher preparation programs.
Early childhood education