Why is it important for an early-childhood teacher to consider the learning style and social context of the child?

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

How many times have we heard about poor teachers and an inability to “reach” some of their students? The learning environment is reliant on many factors, the least of which is not the personality of the child and the teacher. An early childhood teacher is most likely to be the child’s first experience of formal or semi-formal schooling and as such, any influences can have a far-reaching effect later in the child’s education.

Teaching is difficult due to the whole range of characteristics at play in any given classroom environment. Many teachers have their own children who are expected to behave a particular way. The teacher then may have preconceived ideas of how a child should behave and therefore when his or her expectations are not met, a negative relationship may develop.  

A child whose parents are facing divorce may be affected, not necessarily by the divorce itself but the economic stress and conflict that is apparent in the household. A teacher who is aware of this is far better equipped to deal with any outbursts or withdrawal that he or she notices. Relationships between adults and children are crucial for the child’s development.  Academic performance may be affected by any adverse situations – an absent father, away for business, a new sibling, an ill relative, and so on. Unfortunately, it is not possible for a teacher to be familiar with all the challenges learners face and part of their development is learning to cope but an astute teacher can always get the best out of students by being aware that the challenges do exist.  

Non-verbal behavior which includes hand gestures, eye contact, facial expression and so on all encourage learning in any child and hence a good teacher will ensure that these things are all in place  so that young students are positively motivated, regardless of external factors.

Many young learners are tactile learners as they love to experience through touch.  A teacher who encourages this is able to minimise anything that may have a negative impact on an early learner. Logical thinkers are usually identified as the inquisitive children and a teacher can ensure these children get to satisfy their curiosity. Functional learners can be accommodated through a well-organised classroom space. So whilst it is important that a teacher is aware of the learning style of a child, he or she can work around a whole host of styles without having to know every fact.

The social context is something that a bright teacher can actually make part of the learning process. Culture, especially in the twenty first century, is crucial to successful integration. Children must accept each other and the fortunate thing in a classroom of young children is that they take things at face value and can have an appreciation of each other’s similarities and differences with no judgement or stigma attached. They are accepting and supportive. So when a teacher is aware of the structure of his or her class, steps to curtail peer relationship troubles amongst students can be beneficial and maladjusted children, aggressive or withdrawn children can be helped.

It is not sufficient for a teacher to ‘teach;' he or she must observe. A positive experience at this early age can make it possible for children from any background or family circumstance to move forward.