Enhancing development and learning through teacher-child relationships

Kathleen Cranley Gallagher, Kelley Mayer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Research confirms that "children's development in all areas is influenced by their ability to establish and maintain a limited number of positive, consistent primary relationships with adults and other children. These primary relationships begin in the family but extend over time to include children's teachers and members of the community" (Bredekamp & Copple 1997, 15). To appropriately address children's needs, teachers and programs must put children's relationships at the forefront of planning and implementation of interactions and activities. Putting relationships at the forefront involves recognizing the child, becoming familiar with the child and family, respecting the child's individuality, and committing to the ongoing process of being in the relationship (Gallagher & Mayer 2006). The beauty of working with young children is that while we, as teachers, practice building relationships, we also model relationship-building practices for them. The privileges of caring for and educating children are not separate. We do both every day, building relationships with children and supporting their development and learning. Prospective parents would often ask, "Is your program child care or a preschool?" The response has always been, "We are both. We cannot care for children without educating them, and we cannot educate children without caring for them." We do both by building relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)80-87
Number of pages8
JournalYC Young Children
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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