What Else Affects Learning?

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.

Articles/Links:

Does Class Size Matter? Report from National Education Policy Center (2014)

Some positive signs for children’s health and education

Tackling poverty

In Minnesota, whole towns coming together for students

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