A Caring School Environment in the Twin Cities

A Caring School Environment in the Twin Cities
Julie Harnack

Making sure your children get an excellent education is important for their future success. However, it is the school environment and culture that makes a child excited to go to school each day and have positive memories of their school experience after they graduate.

8 Things to Look for in a School Environment

How do you know if a school community is a positive one? Here are eight things to look for when you are considering a school for your child.

  1. Teachers appear happy to be there. When you are touring a school and talk to the teachers, do their eyes light up when they talk about their students, education, and learning? Teachers that enjoy teaching children are creative, innovative, and love to learn themselves. They are engaged in the learning process and are always looking for new ways to inspire children to learn. 
  2. Teachers demonstrate attention to each child. Children know when their teachers care about them as a person. When there are strong relationships between teachers and students, students put in more effort and look forward to attending class each day. Teachers who care about the children they teach are interested in learning about each child's particular hobbies. By understanding each child, they can teach to that child, encouraging them to develop their talents and uncover their true potential. 
  3. Words of kindness are heard in the hallways and classrooms. As you walk through the school you are considering, look for kindness and caring in the interactions you observe. Are you greeted in the halls with a smile or "hello"? Do faculty and staff greet each other as they pass? Do students say "hello" to you or give a friendly smile? These small gestures tell a lot about a school culture and how people feel about each other.
  4. Children are kind to each other. When you watch children interact with each other are they kind to each other? Do they greet one another and seem to care about the other child they are interacting with? Look for kindness in big and small ways. From a conversation to a hug to helping another student who may have dropped a book or notes, these are all ways children can show each other that they care about one another.
  5. Hallways and school classrooms are lively but not chaotic. Children exude joy and happiness naturally. In any given day, there will always be a lot of interaction happening between students at a school, but the overall feel in a school should not be one of chaos.
  6. Children demonstrate respect adults. Observe how children talk to adults such as teachers, faculty, and parents. Do they answer when a question is asked of them? Do they listen and do what is asked of them? Children respect adults when they feel safe, secure, and confident in their surroundings.
  7. Teachers and staff demonstrate respect children. A culture of kindness and respect is mutual. Adults also need to show respect to children, just as children show respect to adults. As you watch teachers interact with children do they show respect to each child by listening to each child as they speak? Children are very perceptive, and they follow the behavior that is modeled for them. By modeling positive behaviors and being a role model, adults provide a template for a child's behavior. 
  8. Teachers, staff, and students are happy. While you can't ask each person that you see if they enjoy attending or working at the school you are touring, you can get a general sense of how people feel about their environment if you observe their behavior. Genuine happiness can be contagious, so if you find yourself feeling your mood lift as you tour a school, chances are that others feel the same way as you. 

These intangibles are hard to pinpoint, but make a world of difference in the day-to-day life of your child and your family. If your child is happy at school, the entire school experience can be elevated from ho-hum to exceptional.

If you're in the Twin Cities and looking for a private school be sure to check out Minnehaha Academy. It's impossible to describe, but when you and your family walk into Minnehaha Academy, you'll feel it. Students and parents say that our culture of kindness and care is what makes us unique. 

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