Researchers at the University of Missouri (USA) have found that the relationships surrounding a child have a direct and critical influence on their academic success with the most direct impact being the attachment between the child and his or her teacher.
The researchers reviewed prior research and analyzed various factors including quantifiable factors such as class size and curriculum but concluded that relationships and attachments that the child has with three primary anchors - teacher, parents and school had the most impact. While the child-parent relationship had an indirect impact, the child's attachment to their teacher had the biggest direct impact and so did the child-school attachment.
A child who felt secure and had a positive attachment to their teacher and school, achieved higher academic success including higher scores on standardized tests.
"Secure student-teacher relationships predict greater knowledge, higher test scores, greater academic motivation and fewer retentions or special education referrals. Children who have conflicted relationships with teachers tend to like school less, are less self-directed and cooperate less in the classroom." says Christi Bergin, one of the authors.
To help enhance student relations, the authors offer research-based tips for teachers and schools:
- Increase warm, positive interactions with students
- Be well prepared for class and hold high expectations
- Be responsive to students' agendas by providing choices
- Use reasoning rather than coercive discipline that damages relationships
- Help students be kind, helpful and accepting of one another
- Implement interventions for difficult relations with specific students
- Provide a variety of extracurricular activities for students to join
- Keep schools small
- Keep students with the same teachers and/or peers across years
- Decrease transitions in and out of the classroom
- Facilitate transitions to new schools or teachers