A Deeper Connection: Connecting with Kids in the Classroom

by Johanna Fredericks, Bachelor of Education, Perth

Last week I listened to a very real and practical interview with Kristy Wood on the home page of the ‘Kids in Connection’ web site. The interview is a personal sharing about connecting with kids that relates to what many teachers and kids are feeling in classrooms and homes today, and the behaviours that result from that.

Listening to the interview I had many ‘ah-ha’ moments about kids’ behaviour and what is going on in society today with children and the way we (as adults) are being with them. Well worth a listen…

The one aspect from the interview that I would like to focus on and share involves a very simple technique that has a quite powerful purpose and outcome. Kristy spoke about the importance of connecting with kids today and how very little children actually feel met and connected to. She shared that she started the class with a circle where each person was able to share.

I teach a class of children full-time and making it about the kids first has been a real priority for me for many years. Each day I pay attention to the way I prepare the classroom to support the children, how I speak with them and how I move my body. I make sure that each child knows that they are seen and listened to by the way I choose to engage with them from the moment they enter the room to when we say goodbye at the end of the day. I can vouch that connecting with kids first and making the day about how we are in the class leaves very little room for behaviour issues to be an ongoing problem.

So on one level I was already doing what Kristy was suggesting – a community circle was already part of our daily classroom rhythm. However, when I listened to the interview I felt there was more for me to explore. I know that when children (and all people) feel connected to, the environment feels more harmonious. We can always learn and even deepen in the way we connect and relate to others.

When we used to have community circle I always gave the children a mini-topic to relate their sharing to and I limited this to a sentence or two. I have now realised that even though this was still about them, there were rules about what I was asking them to express, i.e.,

  • the topic at hand, and
  • the ‘one or two sentences’.

What I was doing wasn’t bad and it was about taking a moment to be able to let each child feel heard by all first thing in the morning, to make sure I had looked into the eyes of each child. Naturally this little technique built their confidence to speak in a group and allowed them to be more supportive of each other in their relations during the day.

But there was more for me to look at… Kristy’s words offered me a potential to deepen this connection. I had never thought to say “Just share one thing”.

Also, during this circle time I now sit on the floor with the children, in the circle, as compared to sitting in the circle on a little chair. Both of these little changes have made a HUGE difference in our day. These small changes, which have been done in connection with the kids, are actually making a difference in these children’s lives. They are feeling heard and completely met. This has all come from my willingness to deepen the connection with children in the classroom.

Our class now feels like it is just filled with a group of people who connect, then get on with their different roles… A room full of people of different ages who support each other and who are making an effort with the way they are choosing to be in the room and with each other.

Inspired by the work of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine.

183 thoughts on “A Deeper Connection: Connecting with Kids in the Classroom

  1. This is very beautiful and inspiring to read Johanna, knowing there are teachers like you and Kristy that truly care for children brings a smile to my face.

  2. I love the feeling of equality you brought to the classroom Johanna by choosing to sit on the floor with the students.

    1. I loved the feeling of equality too Deborahmckay this is so lovely for schoolchildren to feel, as sadly in most classrooms today the students are completely imposed upon.

      1. Absolutely Elizabeth as they’re not seen, felt fully and valued for the bright sparks that they truly are.

    2. Yes and it’s fun to remember what it was like as a kid to sit on the floor with a group of children. It is a beautiful holding space when everyone brings a level of care and respect.

      1. And the children naturally have a deeper respect for any adult who is prepared to meet them at their level. It’s wise to remember that we can learn much from children and that it’s not always the other way around.

  3. So enjoyed reading your sharing Johanna and taking on board Kristy’s wise words. I’ve recently joined a primary school and volunteer to help with whatever jobs that need a helping hand. The difference when I get down to the children’s eye level and truly listen, connecting to each and everyone of them – I can feel it, so I know for sure that they can too.

  4. I can’t help but see the potential for a parallel approach in business. Bosses connecting with their immediate teams in a way that’s authentic, that meets each person, every day. Sitting in amongst them rather than hierarchically elevated in an office. It’s happening in those organisations where people really do matter to the bottom line, but in others the lack of real connection between people leaves many institutions soul-less places where people only allow their real selves to manifest once they’ve left the building. Not a great way to spend the day.

  5. Thank you Johanna for a beautiful blog, for these young children in your care, to be met with such simple love is empowering for them.

  6. The world needs teachers who support and connect with the children in this way. This is essential as the foundations we raise our children up with is the world that will be in the future.

  7. Thank you Johanna for sharing your willingness to go deeper and be inspired to introduce changes that have increased the sense of connection for everyone. This is so crucial and will give the children you teach a solid foundation to build on as they move through their lives. Priceless and so needed as we get more ways of communicating but many feel increasingly disconnected from the rest of humanity.

    1. Absolutely Helen. It is a solid foundation for them to build on and even remember and choose at anytime in their lives. I know many of us remember our great teachers so I know the lasting imprint we can all have on others. Especially children when we choose to put the space, effort and time into meeting them in full. It’s a fabulous marker for them and a confirmation of what they deserve.

  8. Johanna, it is very timely that I came to read your blog this morning, as after Easter I will be joining the work force at my local junior school as a Volunteer. What I will be taking from your sharing is the importance of connection, both to my self and with every child I meet.

  9. Johanna in years to come, when the children you teach now are adults you will be remembered as the teacher who made a true difference to the course of their lives.

  10. When children feel ‘met’ it is a game changer , the child’s life can literally change direction from that simple interaction… and if an educator embodies this then many children will be blessed by that person.

  11. Truly wise and inspiring words, Johanna, with application beyond the classroom into all walks of life. ‘We can always learn and even deepen in the way we connect and relate’. It just comes from a willingness to recognise our equalness with another, meet them, hear them, acknowledge them and honour them. Simple really and really simple – yet we often override this simplicity in favour of time, expediency and effort. Your example shows how even through the smallest of changes great things can occur. An exquisite lesson for us all.

  12. What a beautiful environment for everyone, both children and teacher, to learn from! For many children this may well be the first time in their lives that they have felt heard, understood and appreciated. I am just imagining how powerfully inspiring that would be for them. I’m grateful that there are teachers such as yourself Johanna, who are working with children in this way because there is no doubt in my mind that the impact is huge.

  13. The thing that I love most about what you are sharing Johanna is that these regular start of the school day connections is how really important they are for the children (and most definitely any teachers or others in the room too). Not only are they feeling heard, but they are also learning to truly listen and understand others. A great foundation for life.

  14. This is great experience you share Johanna. It is often very subtle how we still condition others in their expression and how much more we can expand when we are allowed to simply be.

  15. It is quite shocking to experience how education is about a lot of aspects that don’t have anything to do with connection and that kids are basically raised to be this individually focused skilled vehicles that perform (or rebel) in a world that has totally lost connection. Life is about connection, why should education be about something else?

  16. What children crave is a true connection and to be meet to start the day in this way is a beautiful support for both the children and the teacher.

  17. Beautiful sharing Johanna. The children are blessed with teachers like you and Kristy. Reading this story I reflected back as a little girl in the classroom and felt into my years at school. I felt sad for not being met. Teachers are very special people in children’s worlds, along with parents and family.

  18. Gosh I wish I had had a teacher like you. My recollection of some of my teachers is of them coming into the class with an air of superiority, looking down at the group of lowlife that they had been presented with and given the impossible job to teach given our inadequate level of intelligence. Asking a question often led to being made fun of, which tended to resolve one to decide never to risk that again. There were a small handful of teachers that didn’t do this but they didn’t really connect with the children though.

  19. Beautiful Johanna. This is true education in connecting, in sharing and listening to each other as equals that is a lesson in life that will be felt long after the children have left school.

  20. “Just share one thing”. I love this. I volunteer in a primary school and listen to children reading, individually. As they get to know me, at the beginning of a new term, they open up and each week we talk more. I see my role as meeting and connecting with each child, not just about focussing on their reading ability – that is the tool I use to support, encourage and appreciate them. I have the luxury of time and also so appreciate classroom teachers.

  21. Every single being on earth loves to be met for who they are. Reading this I wonder if the anxiousness and nervousness that arises once we are in older grades at school (if what Kristy and yourself Johanna present has not been a child’s experience), when we are asked to speak about ourselves or even speak about any topic, comes from this lack of being met and lack of being heard. I felt it just this week when we were asked to share about ourselves in a round table at work… what is interesting is that there I things I can talk about and not having a problem but I can felt a nervous heat coming up when it came to my turn. Once I started I calmed down and expressed. I can definitely see the difference in children who are met and how they express more than children who have been ignored.

  22. The first time I felt met – By Simone Benhayon – CHANGED MY WORLD! I felt like a born again boy, So expansive and so receptive. By far the most influential single thing someone else has done for me

  23. Johanna I wished you would have been my teacher and I love what you have shared. Now I am wondering why this way of being with kids in school is not a normal way to be?

  24. In a world where everything is energy every little detail counts and makes a difference, such as looking someone in the eye, changing your posture, the words you choose. We discount these things far too much and make it about getting things done, achieving certain goals, fulfilling a picture, etc. Doing this we loose out and are then faced with a lot of problems later on.

  25. one of the keywords or phrases here is to actually meet the children… There is a lot within this… It means connecting with, and allowing oneself to be seen as well… This is always the foundation of the bridge of trust which must be built for any true learning to take place

  26. A gorgeous article of the power in truly meeting children for who they are. It makes so much sense that when you connect to kids it leaves little room for behavioural issues… this should be common knowledge in the education system and the foundation of all classrooms.

  27. So gorgeous Johanna to feel the quality of connection that you offer to the children in your classroom. I can remember as a child in school how seldom we had to opportunity to truly and simply express what we felt. The only opportunity we had was when we were asked a question about the subject at hand, of if we had a question, or when we were told to give a presentation to the class. None of which truly supports our confidence to naturally express. Yet what you offer, through connection and being met from who they are within, is a way children can express what they feel, without the pressure of needing to get anything right, and feel supported not only by you but also by their classmates and friends, so they can feel the power and confidence that they naturally hold within.

  28. Well, I have to say it’s heart meltingly gorgeous to read of any human being so devoted to truly supporting children. Everything you have shared is so relatable to adults and workplaces also, and this line really highlighted something important to me “I know that when children (and all people) feel connected to, the environment feels more harmonious.” We have in some ways lost what’s truly important in the world, which is relationships based on simply being together and connecting to who we each are, not through roles or what we do or achieve. Beauty in life always seems to come from keeping it simple.

  29. Wow. How would this generation of adults be different if we had experienced this kind of connection and honouring of us as children in the school system. So many can relate a deeply scarring experience at the hands of a teacher or school mates and so many have had the experience of one teacher who has held them in equalness and allowed inspiration to ignite in them, such that they have transformed their lives. School is a critical phase and we owe it to ourselves to bring this level of connection and support to everyone teachers and students alike.

  30. Kristy Wood has a lot to offer when it comes to kids and connection, be you a parent, teacher, adult, child or simply a member of humanity.

  31. This is like many others a very important topic, connecting with kids or connecting with people. It’s great to see the message I take from this article, always be flexible to see the next part no matter who is talking to you or when and where it comes from. So often we can close off in the ‘I’m already doing that’ or ‘yeh I know’ way that limits how we can expand or grow into the next moment. There is forever something for us to learn from every interaction with a person or really every interaction with everything. There is always a deeper point to see and that maybe just the true appreciation of everything we are already doing. The true connection to someone in any moment is always the key, no matter what is being said or what you are already doing, it’s the quality of the presence and not the doing or done that holds true.

  32. Teachers such as you Johanna are gold and very needed in the schooling system that has forgotten the importance of connecting to the children and allowing them to be who they truly are – the more we do this children can feel valued and accepted to be at school without feeling the pressure to perform or compete against others.

  33. The beauty of holding all in equalness – regardless of age or ‘position’. Johanna, you have spoken of the fundamentals of being a true teacher – who holds her ‘charges’ in the equalness of love, and is ever-willing to explore and go deeper in the relationships she has with her students.
    After all, who is really ‘teaching’ who?

  34. True connection and intimacy is the foundation of harmonious group work – love how you are supporting and connecting with the kids in your class Johanna, and I’m sure this is helping them in every aspect of their lives, not just when they are at school.

  35. This is very inspiring as I am currently teaching a group of students and I do notice how disconnected they are from themselves and do not seem much interested in connecting with others either. It is tragic when education is made to be all about getting a good mark and children grow up missing out on being met. I knew there had to be another way, and was wondering what I can do, but your sharing made me stop and question – and I can feel I was actually in reaction, rather than being connected with myself, therefore connecting with them, offering a reflection of another way of being as their equal.

  36. What you are bringing to the children in your classroom is priceless Johanna, ‘I can vouch that connecting with kids first and making the day about how we are in the class leaves very little room for behaviour issues to be an ongoing problem.’ To feel heard and completely met is what we all truly desire.

  37. Johanna I loved this part, ‘Also, during this circle time I now sit on the floor with the children, in the circle, as compared to sitting in the circle on a little chair.’ I have always found that when we bring ourselves down to the same eye level or as close as we can, doing the same as children are, there is an equality between everyone which lays a great foundation to work from.

  38. I love what you bring to everyone Johanna, both in the classroom and through these blogs, teachers like yourself are so important for all of humanity.

  39. When children feel heard and simply met for who they are, there is often less disruption because they know they don’t need to compete for any attention because it has already been given and that connection is still there regardless of what tasks they go on to do during the day, because the foundation has already been laid.

  40. All children have their own individual personalities and no two children are the same, the deeper we connect with them the more they express as themselves and the more we learn from them and about them too.

  41. Yes so true – connection is everything and it is so crazy that we live in a world where this is not number one principle lived (if lived at all).. So what we teach our young – we will see in the future.. And so, our education system must be based on connection first – before the practicals of studying etc. comes. As we can see, we need a different outcome for our future (new generation) , so we might wanna try connection out as first.. We can now, so why would we not give it a go?

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s