Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Jerry McGuire, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Julie Owens, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Sheryl Reinisch, Ed.D.


This study explored the support for play in public school kindergarten classrooms in a single urban school district in the Northwest region of the United States. Through a three-phased data collection approach that included an online survey, in-person interviews, and classroom observations, the researcher gathered information to describe how teachers are supporting play through five key attributes: teacher perspectives, opportunities for play, the play environment, types of play, and the role of the teacher (teacher practices). The online survey was shared with all kindergarten teachers in the district, with nine survey participants who expressed high support for play selected to participate in one-on-one interviews. From the nine teachers interviewed, three were selected for classroom observations to describe support for play in the real-world context of the kindergarten classroom. The descriptive case studies of these three teachers revealed the following findings on support for play: kindergarten teachers view play as developmentally appropriate and synonymous with learning; daily opportunities are provided for free play and guided play experiences; playful kindergarten environments provide well-defined areas and organized materials for work and play; playful kindergarten classrooms support multiple types of play in child-initiated and teacher-initiated experiences; and teachers support play by creating structures and rules, responding to ensure safety, and advocating for play.

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