Learning and development begin long before a child enters a classroom for the first time. Research has demonstrated that healthy relationships providing consistent support to a child’s development lead to better social, emotional and cognitive development, which lay the foundation for successful outcomes later in life.

A new study from the Early Childhood Research Quarterly (ECRQ) tested how a close, affectionate and communicative relationship between teacher and student in the preschool classroom impacted a child’s performance in elementary school and likelihood of the child being referred to special education programs. This study reiterates the importance of not only a healthy relationship between a child and their teacher, but all those exposed to the child in their primary years of life.

Because the role educators and caregivers play is so influential during a child’s early years when their brains are rapidly growing, it is important to provide those from whom a child learns with professional development that addresses strategies for building and maintaining positive relationships.

Continuous access to training and coaching opportunities can support teachers and caregivers in their professional development, which ultimately serve to improve child outcomes. Already we have seen commitments made at the local, state and federal levels to help meet these needs. But despite this network of supports at multiple levels, the need far exceeds the available supports. Providing parents with access to a network of resources positions them to achieve a level of stability that can contribute to reduce stress levels later on.

As their child’s primary caregiver and first teacher, it’s important to consider the influence of stress on them as well.  In order to promote school readiness, it is important for caregivers and educators to have the tools necessary to support a child’s development. .

The study urges future research into the teacher-student relationship Babies’ brains are not born, they are built, and  healthy relationships help children foster not only better social skills, but literacy and mathematical skills as well.  Early relationships and family conditions are powerful in shaping a child’s success in school and in life.

Read the full report here.