Schools need love
Text: Monika Pedersen
February is associated with romance, red roses, chocolate hearts, and more. It is linked to a passionate romance or a long-term relationship. It can refer to the maternal bond between a mother and child. It can also be a display of strong feelings for pets, activities, or life in general.
Why do we seek it?
The feeling of love stimulates the release of certain chemicals in our bodies, such as dopamine and Phenylethylamine, PEA, which fill us with happiness. Love also triggers oxytocin production, a bonding hormone that lowers stress and anxiety levels. Love is powerful; it enriches our lives and makes us feel safe.
Love in a schooling context
Love might not be the first word associated with school, but it is an essential emotion needed to fulfil a vast aspect of its work. In the first instinct, people associate school with the subjects taught, schedules, and the exams sat and passed. This is, in part, correct, but it is only part of the work performed. First and foremost, an environment that fosters a sense of belonging and emotional safety must be created before any learning can take place.
Creating this atmosphere falls mainly on teachers. Children coming to the first class will experience a massive step in their social and emotional development. During their early years, the closest connection is with their mother and other family members, who foster a circle that provides love and security. Suddenly, there is a vast broadening of a child’s world with new, critical figures, including the teacher, teacher assistants, and other children. The known dynamics have been blown up, so the family and the school must partner to establish a larger, safe circle.
"The educator has a responsibility to form a close connection with a child. Each interaction and reaction are significant, as they influence a child’s perception of the new adult in his/her life."
In ‘loco parentis’
A mother’s role in this process is to reaffirm to her child that the new person in her child’s life is someone who can be trusted, liked, and is part of daily life. There is a handing over of the reins for a period of the day, where the teacher provides a child with emotional strength, reassurance, and love. This responsibility is a legal requirement of a school.
The educator has a responsibility to form a close connection with a child. Each interaction and reaction are significant, as they influence a child’s perception of the new adult in his/her life. The volume and tone of the teacher’s voice impact a child’s emotions, so a calm and friendly approach is advisable. Body language also tells a child much about a teacher’s attitude towards him or her. In addition, a warm, colourful classroom with calendars, schedules, visual aids, and distinct learning areas helps a child navigate the day and experience a sense of security. Every considered aspect enhances a child’s ability to settle and feel that s/he can see the class teacher and the classroom as an extension of the family unit and home.
An investment of emotions
Each child is an individual whose habits and behaviours need to be learnt and appreciated, so a winning and lasting connection can be made. A primary teacher must emanate a lot of love, which must be genuine, for young children can sniff out falsehood! The repayment on establishing a trusting bond is an almost unconditional love back.
The teacher also needs to bond with the entire class so there is a caring and respectful feeling among class members. Team building activities, class outings, modelling, and sharing are part of forming these connections, which, in some cases, results in lifelong friendships among class members.
In a world where turmoil exists in many places and areas, the need for carving out a place of stability and positive interactions is ever more critical. Where this happens, the situation allows children to experience harmony and build on ethical, solid values that are pointers for navigating life.
Giving, showing, and promoting kind emotions is a large part of a teacher’s day. Without it, the real work cannot even begin!