Teacher-child relationships are essential to young children’s development. Can positive relationships facilitate children to learn, or are they the result of how children behave themselves? A recent longitudinal study examined the relationship between teacher-child relationships and children’s approaches to learning, specifically, the ways children initiate, engage in, and complete learning tasks.
Children 3 to 4 years of age from 59 kindergartens in Guangdong province in China participated in this study. These kindergartens were selected by stratified random sampling from municipalities that represented different levels of economic development. Through teachers’ assessment, the study evaluated children’s approaches to learning, which included competence motivation, learning strategies, and attention/ persistence. A total of 595 students was first assessed at the end of their second preschool year, then 439 of them were assessed again at the end of their third preschool year.
The results indicated that teacher-child relationships are driven by children’s approach to learning. The details of the findings are as follows:
- Children’s attention/persistence positively predicted teacher-child closeness and negatively predicted teacher-reported conflict with individual children across the study
- Children’s learning strategies negatively predicted teacher-child conflict over time
- However, children’s competence motivation had no significant relationship with either teacher-child closeness or teacher-child conflict
Given the results, the authors concluded that policymakers and kindergartens should pay more attention to improving children’s approach to learning; on the other hand, they suggested that teachers also need to be aware of their ability and responsibility to actively build relationships with children, instead of just reacting passively to children who did not have sufficient skills.
Source: Guan, L., Hu, B. Y., & Winsler, A. (2020). Longitudinal associations between Chinese preschool children’s approaches to learning and teacher-child relationships. Children and Youth Services Review,116, 105240. DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105240.