"Every child deserves a champion – an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be."
Wise words from 40-year veteran teacher, TED talk speaker, and professional development coach Rita F. Pierson.
Truly connecting with and championing your students requires one very important, key ingredient: trust. Without trust, there can be no respect, no nurturing, no safe space in which to grow and learn.
And nowhere is trust more important than in the early years of education. This is where students first begin to blossom, and where they form their first impressions of teachers, learning, and their own potential as human beings.
If you're planning a career as an early childhood educator (ECE), learning ways to build trust with the youngsters in your care will be a top priority.
Read on for three approaches every ECE can use to create positive teacher-student relationships and an inspiring classroom environment.
Patience, Compassion & Consistency
Most people who choose an early childhood education career are naturally drawn to children and would describe themselves as patient and compassionate. However, when you're managing a busy daycare or working in a hectic preschool classroom, there will definitely be days when your patience is tested!
Being able to remain calm and continue to show compassion for each child under your care, even under challenging circumstances, will go a very long way to building trust in the classroom.
Consistency is a key element here, in several ways. First, making sure you're consistent in how you behave with students—your level of care, positivity, and attention—is crucial for gaining their confidence.
Second, it's also important to be consistent in the way you enforce classroom rules and follow established routines. Children need structure and a sense of dependability in order to feel secure and truly trust those who care for them.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines "stable, responsive, nurturing caregiving" as a "critical element of child development."
Show your students that you are there for them, with consistent support and stable routines, and in return, you will gain their trust and willing attention.
Watching, Listening & Learning About Each Child
You can't build a positive relationship with a child you do not really know. It takes time and effort to connect with youngsters; to learn about each individual's unique learning needs, character traits, and social behaviours.
In order to create a bond of trust, ECEs carefully observe their students, listen closely to their questions, stories, and comments, and give plenty of feedback and attention in return.
When you show your students genuine respect and get to know their interests and dreams, you cultivate the ideal conditions for trust to grow. A great way to get started is by asking questions and encouraging the youngsters in your care to share things about themselves—their likes and dislikes, family life, pets, and favourite hobbies.
ECEs often organize projects and activities around these kinds of themes, which accomplishes two important goals:
1) You'll let students know you're genuinely interested in them and their lives.
2) You'll collect all kinds of interesting information about your students, which you can draw on to make stronger connections with each child over time.
Correcting Negative Behaviours with Positive Techniques
Toddlers and young children are at the very earliest stages of learning how to share, listen, and follow instructions.
If you're working in a daycare or preschool, you can definitely expect behaviour management to be a significant part of each day. Helping students learn how to socialize, work in groups, and communicate effectively is a big part of your job—and a major aspect of early childhood education.
Quality ECE training will equip you with a wide range of positive techniques for handling negative classroom behaviour and creating a safe and supportive learning environment.
Resorting to yelling, threats, and ruling through intimidation and fear is the fastest way to lose the respect and trust of your preschoolers (not to mention parents and supervisors!)
Today's ECEs use much more sophisticated, effective behavior interventions, such as positive reinforcement, redirection, behavior modelling, and adaptations for students with behavioural disabilities. This makes for a much safer-feeling classroom—a place where all students feel supported, secure, and trusting of their teachers.
Are you interested in learning more about ECE training?
Consider the early childhood education program offered by Herzing College.
Chat live with an admissions advisor to discuss your questions and career goals. Or click below to learn more about the diploma program. We're here to help!