Teacher-Child Relationships

Responsive, sensitive relationships with teachers allow for children 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 children 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.


Building Strong Relationships

In this 15-minute webinar, educational coaches Stephanie Adams and Caitlin Powell talk about how we can foster and maintain relationships with young children in a virtual, hybrid, or socially distanced classroom environment.

Teacher and child wearing masks while playing with blocks
child and teacher play with toy phone


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.


At the Heart of Healing

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


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.


Disrupting Racial Bias

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


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

Part of the STREAMin3 curriculum, activity cards provide simple and fun ways you can build relationships with children while also fostering other critical skills, such as language, movement, memory, and impulse control.
activity card for whatchamacallit
embrace diversity


Build community by embracing similarities and differences.

give voice

News and Updates

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

activity card conversation
talk together

Conversation Starters

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

activity card corners
share ideas


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


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