Ideas for Parents
Easy Ways to Build Assets for and with Your Child
School Climate: What’s the Forecast?
Most people like the weather to be warm and sunny, and most students like their school to be the same. According to Quest International, an educator training organization, “School climate is the feel of a school- the mood and atmosphere you sense the moment you enter a school building.” You want a climate that promotes learning. A cold, dreary school climate isn’t one your son or daughter would want to be in for very long.
What causes a school to have a warm positive climate? A lot depends on how people interact.
When your son or daughter comes into contact with a lot of different people during the day, which affects the school’s climate. It may start out with the way the bus driver treats your child, or the way other students interact with him or her. Then there could be interaction with a school secretary, custodian, cook, bus driver, and so on. The way the people feel about the school will affect how they treat each other, and vice versa.
One person’s attitude can make a significant difference. At one school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, everybody could count on the school secretary. She always had a smile on her face and knew everyone by name. In fact, students often stopped by to see her because she always helped them feel so valued and cared for. When she retired, she received over 1,000 flowers, one from each student.
That school rarely had a rainy day in its climate.
Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when their school provides a caring, encouraging environment. 29% of youth surveyed by the Search Institute have this asset in their lives.
Three ways to improve the climate at your child’s school:
Questions to discuss with your child:
Ø If you were to compare your school’s atmosphere to the weather, how would you describe it most of the time?
Ø What do you think causes you school’s climate to get better at times? Worse?
Ø How do you think our family could improve your school’s climate?
How can your child help warm up the climate in his or her school? One way is for your child to do his or her part to help others feel cared about and supported. Following are several ways he or she can try:
· Learn the names of as many as students as possible. Whenever you see them, whether in school or in the community, smile and greet them by name.
· Reach out to students who seem isolated or lonely- those who don’t seem to belong to any groups or cliques. Be their friend.
· Stick up for students who are bullied by others.
· Make an effort to get to know your teachers.
· Get involved in programs that build assets.
The most important factor in a caring school climate is a positive learning environment in which all students feel challenged and supported to succeed, and develop caring relationships with teachers. How can you make a difference? Try some of these suggestions for helping teachers do their job:
“A positive school climate needs to be nurtured; it doesn’t happen automatically.” – Quest International