Teacher-Child Relationships

Responsive, sensitive relationships with teachers allow for preschoolers to learn and grow across all areas of development
teacher playing with a turtle puppet with students

What You Need to Know

When children feel safe and connected, they are more able to explore and engage in the world around them. They take appropriate risks, try new things, and show increased self-reliance, persistence, compliance, and focus. When teachers anticipate issues and/or calmly address them when they occur, children are more able to quickly re-engage in an activity. Children use their relationships with teachers as a model when learning to communicate and relate to others. They seek out teachers to help them when they encounter problems or when they need comfort, support, or guidance.

What It Looks Like

A quick glance at ways you can make preschoolers feel welcomed and supported

Make a Personal Connection

Having a daily routine that focuses on relationship-building, like greeting children at the door, helps young children feel safe, supported, and connected. 

Join in Children’s Play

Valuing what children have to say and showing genuine interest in their thoughts and ideas promote their independence.

Have Social Conversations

Engaging in social conversations at lunch, during center time, and on the playground can be a great way to get know children and stay connected.

FOUNDATIONAL STRATEGIES

Building Strong Relationships

Responsive, sensitive relationships between teachers and children allow children to learn and develop across all areas. Learn quick and simple strategies you can use to build relationships throughout the preschool day.

image of teacher and student smiling
child and teacher play with toy phone

TARGETED STRATEGIES

Banking Time

Is there a child in your group that is struggling or hard to connect with? Banking time is an evidence-based, targeted approach you can use to foster close relationship with individual children.

TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE

At the Heart of Healing

University of Virginia’s Dr. Amanda Williford talks about cultivating connections after trauma.

FAMILY CONNECTION

Engaging Families Early On

Strong relationships with families lead to strong relationships with children. NAEYC shares key practices that engage families in their child’s early learning.

CONSIDERING EQUITY

Disrupting Racial Bias

Stanford University’s Jennifer Eberhardt discusses the power of racial bias and how to disrupt it in our relationships with children. 

BUILDING CONNECTIONS WITH BOOKS

The Dot

The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds illustrates how a sensitive, responsive teacher supports a child when she needs it. Vashti, a reluctant young artist, finds inspiration because of her teacher’s actions. Books like this provide opportunities to talk about teachers and adults as helpers/partners when children have problems.

cover of the book "The Dot"

Activity Cards for Preschool Classrooms

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can build relationships with children
activity card for whatchamacallit
embrace diversity

Watchamacallit

Build community by embracing similarities and differences.

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give voice

News and Updates

Give children a chance to share something new happening in their world.

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activity card conversation
talk together

Conversation Starters

Great ideas to get children sharing with you and their peers.

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activity card corners
share ideas

Corners

Children answer a series of yes/no questions by running to a corner.

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Get Our Resource Guide

Includes questions and activities to guide your use of the videos, book suggestions, and activity cards featured for each of our core social-emotional skills