A Straight A Student: Attachment
Emerald Connection, February 28, 2023
Can you recall the first three elements of a Straight A student? No, really; pause and check your memory. It’s a great learning skill. This week I’ll write about the fourth and final one: attachment. You can check for the whole list at the end of this article.
Attachment is about feeling a sense of belonging. While the literature suggests that a single attachment can suffice, the ideal is for children to have attachments, plural, to both people and “things” at school.
It goes without saying that having a friend at school makes a big difference. In a small school like ours though, having friends, plural, is important. Kids benefit from both having a group to connect to and being able to take mini-breaks at times in their relationships as we are so close together. In our classes, we stress kindness and friendliness; friendships emerge and are nurtured. However, as parents and caregivers, you have a huge role to play, too. While our kids show uncanny maturity at times, they still need assistance navigating social connections and they certainly need help navigating our community as not everyone lives within easy walking or biking distance of each other. You can greatly support your child’s sense of attachment by both initiating and facilitating playdates. While some kids are naturally gregarious, others need more support to make these initial and ongoing connections.
Attachments to one or more trusted adults are key, too. While every child has a homeroom teacher, they may make their deepest connection with that teacher, with another of their teachers, with someone in the office, or even with a teacher they don’t have regularly. I overheard a conversation between Matt, our Kindergarten teacher, and an eighth grader today where the eighth grader sought Matt out to share good news and talk about their thought process. One of the greatest strengths of our faculty is in their ability and willingness to make connections with all of our students, even those they do not teach regularly.
Connections to people matter most, but connections to the stuff of school matters as well. It is nice when children love everything about school, but they often have favorite classes, experiences, and traditions. These favorites are often what shape students’ sense of belonging; they know there is a place where they fit and feel most connected. I have been particularly pleased this year to see us start with one club in the lower school, Girls on the Run, and one in the middle school, QSA, and watch clubs grow, largely due to student voice. We now have five middle school lunchtime clubs and two after school clubs. The newest club is a leadership club and all middle school students are welcome. We are also adding a new lower school culinary club next week for grades 1-3. Details can be found in this week’s Emerald Connection newsletter.
This series has been about what makes for student success. This model creates a useful heuristic to check against. Are students finding and feeling success in their achievements? Is there a culture of altruism where students are taking care of each other and those around them? Do students have and use their voice in making decisions both inside and outside the classroom? And finally, do students feel connected to people and things within their school? As your children come home in the afternoon and the evening, these are great questions to ask. How was school today? doesn’t always yield the desired response, but asking who they took care of today or what they connected to are both powerful ways to determine how they are doing and to help shape their perspective towards being a Straight A Student, one who experiences achievement, altruism, autonomy, and attachment at school daily.