Study suggests teacher-student bonds may be especially important for homeless kids

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A recent study of homeless preschoolers found a strong correlation between the bonds those children formed with teachers and the children’s risk of behavioral and emotional problems.

“It’s well established that children who are homeless are at higher risk of a wide variety of negative outcomes,” says Mary Haskett, corresponding author of the study and a professor of psychology at North Carolina State University. “However, there’s a lot of variability within this group. We wanted to learn more about what makes some of these children more resilient than others.”

For their study, researchers drew on survey and interview data from parents and teachers about 314 children participating in the Head Start preschool program.

The researchers found that 70% of the children were well adjusted and exhibited healthy behaviors, such as playing well with other kids. The remaining 30% struggled with behavioral and emotional challenges to varying degrees.

The study found that a high-quality child-teacher relationship was the variable that best predicted whether a child was in the healthy, low-risk group.

“The emotional bond or connection between teacher and child, and the lack of conflict in that relationship, was closely associated with the child being resilient,” Haskett says…

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