Teachers Can Play Too: Teacher-Child Relationships, Social-Emotional Development, and Academic Engagement

Teachers Can Play Too: Teacher-Child Relationships, Social-Emotional Development, and Academic Engagement

Szu-Yu Chen (Central Michigan University, USA) and Natalya A. Lindo (University of North Texas, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2224-9.ch016
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Positive teacher-child relationships are key factors for children's social-emotional development and academic success in schools. Teachers' ability to provide children with emotional support and understand children's unique needs may improve challenging behaviors in the classroom. Play-based teacher intervention training models provide teachers opportunities to become therapeutic agents and learn how to use humanistic play therapy skills and language to communicate with children and respond to their unique needs. In this chapter, the authors introduce four play-based teacher intervention training models: Kinder Training, Child-Teacher Relationship Training, Relationship Enhancement for Learner and Teacher, and Teacher-Child Relationship Building. The authors also illustrate these models' goals, training structure, research support for their effectiveness with teacher-child relationships, children's behavioral issues, academic engagement, and teachers' classroom management skills.
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The Impact Of Teacher-Child Relationship

Children’s primary relationships with significant adults, such as parents, caregivers, and teachers are highly influential in young children’s lives and can greatly influence their development (Draper, Siegel, White, Solis, & Mishna, 2009; Guerney, 2000; Hamre & Pianta, 2005; Landreth & Bratton, 2006). Pianta (1999) discussed the impact of inadequate attachment with significant adults on children’s lifelong developmental outcomes. Specifically, children who have experienced unstable and negative relationships in early childhood have a higher risk for challenges in social, emotional, and cognitive development and therefore have the potential to exhibit poor school performance and classroom adjustment (Janson & King, 2006; Perry, 2001; Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004).

Children’s relationships with their teachers are among the most important relationships they establish in the school environment (Birch & Ladd, 1997). Given the large amount of time teachers spend with students, teachers can be significant role models in children’s lives (Stulmaker, 2012). Researchers have suggested that children’s developmental outcomes largely depend on the quality of teacher-child relationships (Birch & Ladd, 1997, 1998; Pianta, 1999; Pianta & Stuhlman, 2004; Hamre & Pianta, 2001, 2005). Research also has shown that healthy teacher-child relationships may enhance children’s social-emotional development and academic success. Positive teacher-child relationships encourage children’s active participation in learning and peer relationships, contributing to a functional classroom environment (Baker, 2006; Birch & Ladd, 1997; Howes, 2000; Hamre & Pianta, 2005). However, negative teacher-child relationships have been linked to children’s poor behavioral and academic outcomes as well as negative attitudes about school (Birch & Ladd, 1997; Decker, Dona, & Christenson, 2007; Garner & Waajid, 2008).

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