Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



ABSTRACT Research into young children’s leadership skills is sparse and focused on leadership in classroom contexts. Understanding of leadership development in young children can be expanded by studying parents’ perceptions of children’s leadership development as it is enacted in contexts outside of the school. The purpose of this qualitative study was to provide an examination of beliefs, practices, and contextual relationships of families with young children who were identified within their schools as having strong leadership skills. Student leaders were identified using the Leadership subscale of the Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students--Third Edition (SRBCSS-III; Renzulli et al., 2010). Four mothers and three fathers of identified first graders who met income level, gender, and ethnic selection criteria participated. Interviews were conducted with structured and unstructured open-ended questions and parent journals were collected from participants. This research provides (a) a synthesis of early childhood leadership research in classroom settings and (b) an understanding of the parenting practices and beliefs that parents perceive as helping young children develop leadership skills. A synthesis of early childhood leadership resulted in 10 categories of young leadership typically seen in the classroom. The resulting categories were: shows awareness of differences in people, has influence on others, regulates emotions, is socially active, expresses creativity, is highly organized, displays physical competence, displays self-confidence, exhibits linguistic competence, and listens to peers. This study added new categories of young leadership enactment outside of the classroom setting. The new categories were: determination, morality, love of learning, and non-biased attitude. Using Bronfenbrenner’s Bioecological Model (1979; 1999), contextual influences on young children’s leadership development were investigated. Findings indicate that parents perceived the child’s personality and the child’s environment as having a joint effect on leadership development. Parents discussed their perceptions of supportive and non-supportive influences on young leadership development. Implications of parents' perceptions for classroom teachers' support of young children's leadership development are provided.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Casbergue, Reneé



Included in

Education Commons