Learning Environments Research

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 311–323 | Cite as

A phenomenological exploration of children’s school life and well-being

  • Lisa Anne NewlandEmail author
  • Daniel Mourlam
  • Gabrielle Strouse
  • Daniel DeCino
  • Cylie Hanson
Original Paper


This phenomenological study explored children’s school life as it relates to their subjective well-being in the United States (N = 22). It was conducted as part of a multinational comparative study of children’s well-being following a semi-structured qualitative interview protocol. Rural and urban children (aged 8–12 years) participated in an interview and mapping exercise that prompted them to illustrate and then describe aspects of and influences on their well-being. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using a phenomenological approach in which child verbal responses and mapped responses were analysed to explore (1) the essence of well-being from children’s perspectives and (2) their perceptions of the role that school life and context played in their well-being. Three main themes emerged. Theme 1 was that school climate is important to their well-being. Subthemes included positive environment, school safety, appropriate teacher dispositions, and supportive programming and policies. Theme 2 was that relationships within the school context are important to their well-being. Subthemes included relationships with teachers, peers and other school personnel. Theme 3 was that children view the school setting as one context, two worlds: academic and social. Subthemes included the importance of academic life, the importance of peer interactions that are unstructured in the school context, and the challenge of academic and peer worlds colliding. Results are discussed in regard to children’s self-report of the hedonic and eudaimonic aspects of their well-being, and in relation to what is currently known about the importance of school environments. Implications, strengths and weaknesses of the study are discussed.


Childhood Climate Learning School Teachers Well-being 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of South DakotaVermillionUSA

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