Teacher Relationships Can Help Children Overcome Impoverished Backgrounds,
16, 1999 -- Teachers who establish strong relationships
with at-risk students can often reduce
the failure and frustration the children experience, says the author
of a new book.
who maintain personal, supportive relationships with young children
positively influence the students' development, says Robert C. Pianta,
a University of Virginia education professor, school psychologist
and author of "Enhancing Relationships Between Children and Teachers."
The book is published by the American Psychological Association.
relationships with teachers are an essential part of the classroom
experience for all children, they are particularly important for
young children in families experiencing emotional, physical and
economic distress, Pianta asserts. In such families children may
suffer additional risk from the adult relationships at home.
such circumstances, relationships with teachers have the potential
for making a difference in the child's development," said Pianta,
who wrote the book based on his studies supported, in part, by the
Office of Educational Research and Improvement's National Center
for Early Development and Learning and from his experiences as a
clinical child psychologist.
children are in families where adults, feeling the stress of their
own lives, struggle to support their children's emotional and social
development. These weakened social relationships can undermine the
youths' potential for success in school. However, supportive relationships
with adults at school can promote children's social and emotional
development and academic progress, the author contends. "There is
ample evidence that child-teacher relationships can help compensate
for difficulties in a child's early history," Pianta says.
the single biggest error that educators make is assuming that a
child's competence is simply a matter of ability. A child's relationship
with adults has a direct tie to his or her ability to succeed,"
who have the support of caring teachers are less likely to drop
out of school or engage in high-risk behaviors, notes Pianta, drawing
on findings from school, clinical and developmental psychology.
They are more likely to succeed academically and socially.
author lays a strong case for school psychologists and counselors
helping teachers understand the multiple factors involved in classroom
relationships. Such personnel can assist teachers who may need help
in developing an interactive style that would encourage relationship
building, he says.
Ida Lee Wooten, (804) 924-6857.