Prekindergarten teachers’ perspectives on decision-making regarding initial set up of classroom environments, modifications during the academic school year, and barriers associated with creating optimal physical environments
The purpose of this study was to examine how prekindergarten teachers in various settings make decisions about physical classroom environments. This qualitative study composed of 22 participants who all participated in a one-hour interview revealing how they make initial decisions regarding classroom environments at the start of the school year, how they go about making decisions about when and if to modify physical environments during the school year, and finally what some of the barriers they face in creating optimal physical environments for prekindergarten age children. The main themes regarding initial decisions about classroom environments were that prekindergarten teachers decide on the initial classroom layout at the start of the school year based on curriculum or approach their school uses, the fact that a new school year is starting, and based on their total work experience. During the school year, prekindergarten teachers make modifications based on communication with other teachers and children, observation of the children and their needs, and finally needs of a center or an area to be modified based on observations or professional development. Finally, prekindergarten teachers face the barriers of space, budget, and time when it comes to creating optimal physical classroom environments. The stakeholders in the field of early childhood education must work hard in order to remove the barriers of space, budget, and time for prekindergarten teachers because children spend a considerable amount of time in build environments (home or classrooms) and it’s imperative that physical classroom environments are funded, intentional, provide adequate spacing, and overall high quality.