Date of Graduation

Spring 5-21-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Organization and Leadership (O&L)


School of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Walter Gmelch

Second Advisor

Dr. Seenae Chong


The purpose of this study was to research parents’ and alternative educators’ perspectives on the role of the educational environment in early education and how this impacts their pedagogical beliefs. The qualitative study explored the following research questions: What do traditional school parents and outdoor alternative parents seek in their child’s early education environment? What shapes parents' decisions on their child’s educational and learning experiences? How do alternative educational leaders and educators understand the role of the alternative environment? How does this impact how they think about education? Interviews were conducted with two traditional parents, two alternative parents and four alternative educators. The study found that authentic, experiential, outdoor learning opportunities are sought after by all parents. There are a multitude of factors which shape parents’ educational decisions based on unique family and child differences. Alternative educators regard the outdoors as an optimal and liberating space for a child’s holistic development and work to shift traditional teaching and learning dynamics.