Health issues, access to good nutrition, poverty-generating multiple stressors in a child’s life, a caregiver’s inexperience navigating the public school system – all are barriers to learning. New research shows a myriad of issues impacting a child’s learning. While many obstacles to a child’s learning happen outside the walls of a school building, schools need to do what is possible within their sphere so each child can learn.
Within the school walls, we know children learn best when: they have a trusted relationship with an adult and feel that that adult cares for their welfare; the child’s culture is represented in that school and the child feels at home; and parents and families see themselves as valued members of a school community with opportunities to impact the school environment for their child.
Class size is perhaps a parent’s most visible assessment of their child’s learning environment and a quality which parents often use to evaluate a school. How many students are too many? This number is up for debate, but many Minnesota school students are currently in classrooms where there is not a desk or a textbook for them – there are more kids than there are space or resources.
Trusted relationships, class size, great teachers, school climate – all can be barriers to student engagement and this student engagement is directly tied to achievement. These are all issues that urgently need to be addressed in schools.
Does Class Size Matter? Report from National Education Policy Center (2014)