Early learning classrooms are bursting with children eager to learn. These children come from diverse backgrounds, but the one thing they all have in common is the need for a safe learning environment. Building relationships is an integral part of creating a safe, unified early learning classroom.
Building Relationships in the Early Childhood Classroom
How can you get the children to work together and take turns?
What do you do when little Jackson has the blue marker and Sophia wants it right now?
How do you get children to line up without pushing and shoving?
A child’s social skills, emotional state, and sense of value affect his or her academic learning. Yes, it is important for children to learn their letter sounds, count, and identify numbers. But it is also important for children to learn how to build relationships. An early learning classroom should help children establish secure relationships with adults and help them learn how to:
- Help, share, and work together in a group.
- Take turns.
- Participate in activities with the class.
- Trust and respect responsible adults.
- Engage and communicate with teachers and students.
- Develop friendships with peers.
- Cooperate with others.
- Be mindful of people and of the classroom environment.
All of these learning goals are part of building relationships in the early learning classroom.
“The teacher is responsible for keeping the children safe.
Teachers guide learning and foster a safe learning environment.
– PreK Teacher
Positive Effects of Building Relationships
When building relationships is at the center of an early childhood classroom, the quality of student-teacher interactions and academics improves. Teachers and parents notice children using kind words with each other. They see children working together as a team towards common goals. There is a decrease in aggressive behaviors and negative attitudes. There is an overall improvement in the classroom climate. Academics and school readiness also increase.
“Oh, you can go first.” – 4 year old Sarah said to her friend.
How to Start Building Relationships
It is important for classrooms to have a curriculum embedded with building positive relationships into everyday play and learning. The Frog Street Infant, Toddler and Pre-K programs (FSPK), are comprehensive programs that are not only child-centered and aligned to the Head Start Early Learning Framework, but also have a focus on social emotional development featuring Becky Bailey’s Conscious Discipline®.
From the beginning of the year, children in classrooms using the Frog Street Pre-K program are taught strategies during morning circle time such as S.T.A.R., an active calming technique to self-regulate with breathing. They learn that, if they are feeling angry or feeling frustrated, they smile, take a deep breath and relax.
Teachers lead group discussions, model, and practice building relationship skills such as how to kindly get a friend’s attention, how to take turns, and how to solve friendship squabbles.
These opportunities to learn and practice within each day help children connect with others, disengage stress, and commit to making positive, kind choices.
“Children need to learn how to be positive community members who are responsible to themselves and each other. “ Mom to 3 year old.
Learning More about Building Relationships in the Early Childhood Classroom
Admittedly, teachers and staff must first learn and implement strategies to create a compassionate classroom environment that encourages students to problem solve and self-regulate before they are able to teach them to children.
Even for experienced classroom teachers, it is important to continue to learn, and to make changes to routines in order to create a more effective learning environment.
Choosing a curriculum such as FSPK provides detailed lesson plans for teachers to follow. To learn even more about building relationships, teachers, staff, and administrators can:
- Read books on building relationships.
- Visit education websites for activities and information.
- Request and take in-service classes on building positive classroom relationships.
- Attend webinars on building relationships.
- Register for early childhood educational conferences that include topics for classroom management and building positive relationships.
Register for Frog Street’s Splash Conference July 30th – August 1st, 2015, where Jill Molli will be presenting Conscious Discipline classroom techniques. Join us!
FREE Building Relationship Webinar:
We invite you to join in a FREE webinar: From Chaos to Calm: Help Children Learn How to Self-regulate, Pay Attention and Care for One Another presented by Becky A. Bailey, Ph.D., award-winning author and Founder of Loving Guidance, Inc. This event is sponsored by Frog Street and will take place on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 from 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (Eastern Time).
This free webinar makes a great staff development. Be sure to tell your education team, have them register for the edWeb event, and mark it on your calendar. A CE certificate will be emailed to attendees within 24 hours of the live event.
Join Frog Street’s Early Childhood Learning Solutions community to access the webinar recording and even more educational resources.
Are you a school, Head Start center, or child care facility interested in purchasing our books, materials, or early learning curricula for Pre-K, Toddler, or Infant classrooms? Please contact us at 1-800-884-3764 for more information.