A study released this month illustrates a clear relationship between a child’s mental state and the quality of his classroom. Children taught by teachers who felt inferior to their colleagues developed more mental health problems than kids whose teachers felt respected. In addition, children whose classrooms were lacking in adequate learning materials and supplies also exhibited a higher rate of mental stress.
The authors of this recent study examined four different areas of mental health, including attentiveness, externalizing of problems, interpersonal relationships and anxiety or sadness as a result of internalizing mental frustrations. All four of these areas were reported to be elevated for children who were in substandard learning environments.
Melissa A. Milkie, a sociology professor at the University of Maryland, who led the study, described her findings. “Being in a classroom with a lack of resources might adversely impact children’s mental health because children are frustrated or disheartened by their surroundings,” Milkie said. “Teachers also may be more discouraged or harsh when they can’t teach properly due to the fact that they are missing key elements.”
“For teachers to get the support and encouragement that they need from colleagues, including the principal, is likely important for whether the teachers are able to create a classroom climate that helps children thrive,” Milkie said. “If teachers are feeling stressed out because they aren’t getting what they need from their colleagues, that stress may carry over to the kids.”
This new evidence clearly shows that our children’s mental stability and well-being is directly impacted by these major external forces. Because the school day represents a large portion of our children’s lives, the information gathered in this study warrants the need for additional research to ensure our future scholars can excel both academically and emotionally.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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