In early childhood, positive relationships with teachers are extremely important for intellectual, social and emotional development. Indeed research shows that secure attachments formed in early years do not just prepare the foundations for positive relationships in adulthood but predict positive life outcomes as well. The following article provides strategies on how Educators can build relationships with children.
Active Listening involves lending your undivided attention to someone who is speaking to you, unlike passive listening which is merely hearing the speaker without trying to understand what is being said. When a child is saying something to you, give them your complete attention. Focus on what they are saying, both with their words as well as with voice inflections, rate of speech and body language. For example, when a child is explaining a picture they have drawn, observe their gestures and facial expressions as a clue for how interested they were in the task.
Engage With Them
Maintain eye contact with the child and get on their level for face-to-face interactions. Interact nonverbally with your learners using small gestures or verbal affirmations, such as nodding your head or offering very brief comments such as “I see”. Vocalizations such as “uh-uh” or “hmm-hmm” are other effective ways of showing that you care about what they are thinking or feeling. Use a pleasant, calm voice and simple language while avoiding exaggerated gestures or dramatic expressions which could confuse the child as to the import of the words said or take away the focus from them to you.
Offer Positive Contact
Use affectionate behaviour with children to build positive relationships. Examples include smiling at them warmly, praising sincerely and welcoming them lovingly when they arrive in the classroom. Respectful and appropriate physical contact like hugging, holding hands and patting on the back are other ways of nurturing positive attachment between educators and children.
Use Age-appropriate Strategies
While building nurturing relationships with children, it is important to use strategies that are developmentally appropriate. strategies that take into consideration children’s differing needs, interests, styles, and abilities. For example, when responding to crying infants or toddlers, teachers usually have affectionate physical contact like hugging and holding young children in their laps. However distressed preschool children might feel more reassured when teachers offer them opportunities to express their feelings before responding with soothing words and gestures. Likewise, positive relationship-building strategies will have to take into account the needs, preferences and communication styles of different children. So reassuring words and vocalizations may be more beneficial to soothe an auditory learner than a tactile learner who may respond better to hugs or being held.
Take The Child’s Lead
Learner-led activities and lessons are among the most effective means of building classroom rapport and motivation. Give children ample opportunities to express their interests and curiosity. Look for teaching moments in free play or discussions to facilitate their understanding of curricula concepts and skills. The other advantage of learner-led and driven lessons is that they increase task compliance since activities are aligned with their interests.
Implement Positive Guidance Measures
In order to build trusting relationships with educators, children need to feel emotionally and physically secure in the classroom. To minimize the occurrence of disruptive and negative behaviour by using positive guidance strategies like positive guidance techniques through modelling appropriate behaviour, redirecting children to more acceptable activities, explaining classroom expectations, setting clear limits and reinforcing desirable behaviours among others.
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Building Positive Teacher-Child Relationships. Centre On The Social and Emotional Foundation For Early Learning