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Academically at-risk children benefit from teachers’ emotional support

How emotionally supportive classrooms help children navigate the many challenges of early adolescence

The last years of primary school can be a challenging time for children as they prepare for their transition to secondary school. There is significant pressure to achieve during this period; in many countries, test scores play a major role in determining the next phase of a child’s education. This can take a toll on student-teacher relationships, which have been shown to be vital to overall child development. A recent study shows how emotional support from teachers can help students, particularly those who are academically at risk, to deal with this pressure, and contribute to positive educational experiences in schools.

Over the course of one year, 1,209 students in grades 5 and 6 (when children are about 10 or 11 years old, respectively) from 61 school classes in Switzerland participated in a research study at the University of Teacher Education Lucerne that assessed how the emotional support children receive in the classroom shapes their perceptions, and thus also the quality, of their relationships with their teachers. The researchers looked specifically at the aspects of caring and fairness, and compared the experiences of at-risk students with those of children who are at less academic risk.

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