Last week I presented two workshops at the California Head Start Conference. I discussed with one group about one of the Head Start goals, which is helping families acquire basic needs. These basic needs are essential for the family to function well and for the child to learn in her preschool setting. We also discussed how research indicates that there are ‘other’ basic needs a child has to feel in a classroom in order for her to be an effective learner. Three of those basic needs are safety, security, and respect. I think good teachers can help children fulfill those needs, even when the physical aspect of the school/classroom is not the best. I was thinking about this again when my granddaughter, Audrey, recently sent me a sketch she made for her teacher.
I am not sure what thought processes were happening when she created this cartoon, but I do know that we can help children feel safe and accepted in many different physical surroundings. She was definitely telling her teacher that she felt safe and loved in her school environment.
Some teachers complain about their lack of resources or their less-than-desirable classroom setting. While these issues are a concern, having the teacher create a safe and loving environment is much more important. I have student teachers in a very old school building right now. However, that school is run very effectively, is spotlessly clean, and is filled with great teachers. The students there are safe, secure, respected and are learning on a daily basis. I actually see more learning taking place in that school than in some of the other schools that are relatively new.
Safety, security and respect are things that we can provide for children, even if we are in a less than perfect building or classroom. As Audrey stated, we can brighten any alley.