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Barriers and supports to nutrition education in the early childhood classroom are most often presented from in-service teachers’ perspective. Little work has been done to understand pre-service early childhood educators’ perceptions of barriers and supports before entering the classroom. The purpose of this study was to identify early childhood pre-service teachers’ perceived barriers and supports to nutrition education. Using phenomenology, eleven in-depth telephone interviews were conducted with early childhood pre-service teachers from two public universities in North Carolina. Three major themes were revealed: (1) identification of barriers and supports, (2) individual perceptions of nutrition education and the potential influence of barriers and supports, and (3) educational background and training. Pre-service teachers reported human resources (e.g. colleagues, collaborators, administrators), resource availability (materials, time), and policy constraints as anticipated barriers and/or supports. Participants’ perceptions of how they would experience barriers and supports in practice varied, but teachers were generally positive about their ability to overcome potential barriers and obtain needed support. Implications and recommendations for teacher-education programs and the early childhood field are discussed. Relevant pre-service trainings, integration of nutrition education into curriculum, and development of teacher self-efficacy are needed to prepare teachers to navigate barriers and supports in early childhood education.
Updated: Apr. 11, 2022