The Value of Adult & Child Relationships:

How Teachers Fall in Love With Children

Building positive relationships  with young children is an essential and foundational piece of good teaching. All children grow and thrive in the context of close and consistent relationships that provide love, security, and responsive henry-and-katyinteractions. An investment of time, affection, and unconditional valuing by the teacher pays off with beautiful connections and trust-filled relationships.

“An environment of relationships is crucial for the development of a child’s brain architecture, which lays the foundation for later outcomes such as academic performance, mental health, and interpersonal skills.” National Scientific Council on the Developing Child (2004)

Program Practices that Build and Strengthen Relationships Between Children and Their Teachers:

  • Consistent Staffing — minimizing the number of different educators who work with  children.
  • Using a Primary Care Model — one caregiver takes the main responsibility for a small group of children, communicates with their families, and becomes knowledgeable about those children.
  • Managing Transitions — thoughtfully supporting children when they move to another group. Easing children into a new setting allows for new relationships to begin slowly, over time.
  • Providing Plentiful Opportunities for Play — a play-rich curriculum model allows adults and children to engage with one another authentically while they explore, discover and have fun together.

Saving Work

Think about the effort required to build a rocket ship with Legos, or to create mosaic tile patterns that fill half a tabletop.  Children engage daily in purposeful play and work that takes a great investment of their time, intellect, save blocksand effort.  When it is “clean up time”, often it is expected that the work be dismantled and all of the parts put back into their proper places. Imagine how frustrating this scenario might be.  What might happen if children could SAVE the “work in progress” to finish later?  At McKendree, we have found that encouraging kids to save work  supports their learning experience and sends a strong message:  “You and the work that you do are important!”  Children often return to the project with new insights and energy, and demonstrate more complex understandings.  Opportunities to encourage “pratical writing” also develop when work is saved — signs that tell the custodian to “please don’t move the blocks” to labels of ownership with first efforts at name writing.