Early Childhood Student–Teacher Relationships: What is the Role of Classroom Climate for Children Who are Disadvantaged?
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The current study reports the results of a study examining the relationship between classroom climate and the development of the student-teacher relationship for young children at-risk. Participants were 267 children and 93 early educators. All children were from low income backgrounds and were experiencing developmental concerns in the area of language, cognition or social-emotional development. Teacher surveys were administered twice during the academic year (fall and spring) during a child’s first preschool year, and observations of classroom climate were conducted in the spring of the same year. Findings indicated that classroom emotional support predicted the development of the student-teacher relationship, such that children in classrooms characterized by higher levels of emotional support experienced greater improvement in the overall relationship and closeness in the relationship, and greater decreases in conflict in the relationship relative to peers in less emotionally supportive classrooms. Classroom organization and instructional support were not found to predict changes in the student-teacher relationship. Implications for research and practice are discussed.
KeywordsStudent–teacher relationship Classroom climate Early childhood
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grant R324A120153 to the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute of Education Sciences or the U.S. Department of Education. We extend special appreciation to the participating families, teachers, schools and agencies for their willingness to cooperate and learn with us throughout the project.
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