First Advisor

Christine Chaillé

Date of Publication

Fall 12-5-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction


Early childhood education, Child development, Child mental health, Teachers -- Training of, Behavior disorders in children



Physical Description

1 online resource (x, 192 pages)


All early childhood educators who work with children between birth and six years of age are likely to encounter young children who experience behavioral and mental health challenges throughout their careers. Research demonstrates that educators can play a vital role in children's mental health and behavioral development. However, often early childhood educators do not believe they have the knowledge or tools to accurately identify and successfully handle the unique challenges that arise when working with children with behavioral and mental health issues.

Using an Anti-Oppressive Framework, this research study explores, through a qualitative case study design, how students in an in-service teacher education program experience children with mental health and behavioral issues in their classrooms. The following research question was used to guide this study: how do students in an in-service early childhood teacher education program think about, emotionally react to, and engage with children who express mental health issues and challenging behaviors in their classrooms?

This paper begins by discussing the prevalence and needs of children with mental health and behavioral issues in early childhood environments. It then synthesizes the relevant literature related to the phenomenon. Next, it describes and defends a study that offered opportunities for students in an in-service teacher education program to consider their beliefs, emotions, and actions concerning inclusive education. From the research findings, implications for practice are revealed, offering ideas to support teacher education programs in better preparing their students to work with all young learners. Lastly, ideas for future research are elucidated.

Persistent Identifier