Survival in School

In my classroom management course at the university, we learn how children must have their basic needs satisfied prior to establishing an attitude where learning can be nourished and supported. When we think of basic needs, we usually think of food, water, shelter, safety, etc. However, there are basic needs in the classroom, as well. Those basic needs include: security, association, belonging, dignity, hope, power, enjoyment and competence. Teachers need to routinely ask themselves, “Do my students feel safe? Can they associate with others comfortably and do I make them feel like they belong to the group? Do I treat them with respect? When they are here, do they feel hope associated with learning new things? Do they help make decisions so they feel a measure of power in my class? Do they enjoy being in our classroom and do they feel success on a regular basis.”
Sometimes we educators are so consumed with teaching the appropriate skills that we forget there needs to be a fertile ground for those new sprouts of knowledge to grow. If the child feels uncomfortable about any part of the school day, he may not be learning at his capacity. In fact, he most assuredly is not. I hope those of us who work with children will take this holiday break to rejuvenate ourselves and be committed to creating the optimal learning environment. One where the children have basic needs met while expanding with new skills and knowledge.

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2 responses

  1. Your comments are right on point. I believe the research literature on early childhood education strongly suggests that the long-term effects of ECE depend upon developing these more subtle "soft skills". Nobel-prize winning economist James Heckman has repeatedly argued for the importance of soft skills in ECE. It is hard to believe that whether a child knows a few more letters or numbers at age 5 will persist very long. However, "soft skills" — how the child views his or her self, how the child views others, whether the child can plan, etc — tend to APPRECIATE rather than DEPRECIATE. Hard skills have their own importance, and the two cannot be completely separated, but the soft skills you mention should not be overlooked and are at the heart of quality ECE.

  2. You have made some basic points that teachers as well as parents should take into consideration. The same "soft skills" are necessary in the home for a child to develop a love for learning that will last a lifetime. AS the title of your post indicates "survival" is what we want for our children in schools.

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