Free Wi-Fi! – The needs of a child (actual or perceived)

I think Maslow talked a lot of sense when he came up with his Hierarchy of Needs.

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My experience of children in various settings including schools and voluntary organisations together with the learning I am currently undertaking as part of a Counselling Skills course leads me to believe that children must have their basic needs met in order to fully thrive and reach their ‘true potential’.

There is discussion about the impact of needs being met/not met on the education of children here. I have also read from a number of people on Twitter, for instance, that many children from poorer families will have academic success despite their basic needs not being met and I am sure that this is the case.  I’m not an academic and I’m sure there are many who could point me in the direction of evidence to support arguments in support or denial of Maslow’s theories.

This week I have read that teachers should not try to be social workers by @LearningSpy.  Discussion followed and many teachers agreed that the key role of a teacher is to teach whilst at the same time @imagineinquiry sounded the note of caution about not ‘shrugging off’ the responsibilities we have to the children in our classes when they turn to us when ‘life’ deals them a bad hand.

I believe that in many ways I am in an enviable position; I work in a school where there is a Learning Mentor who is second to none.  With a background in Social Work and an overarching sense of care and concern for the children and families of our school tempered with a healthy dose of practicality and a sound awareness of what support (or not) is out there, she is the first port of call for most of the adults in our school when we become aware of a difficulty in a child’s life that goes beyond the everyday trials and tribulations of the primary aged child.  This frees me up to teach but, rightly or wrongly I still see my role as more than just that.

The images below have been circulating the internet for quite some time.  People laugh or have a wry smile when they see them, acknowledging the hidden truths that they convey.

maslow-wifiCredit (2)       no-wifiCredit (3)

Reading around Twitter this week I have been thinking about the other things that children feel like they need.  The little things that we may not notice or don’t take the time to find out more about.  This morning I watched this video about refugees and the things that are so important to them to take when they flee their countries. Some of the items I would never have imagined.   It made me think about the things that I have heard this week that are important to children, that unless we take time to know them as well as teach them we may be missing an opportunity to develop relationships that we can build on once we are teaching:

  • Going to gymnastics club
  • Someone to chat with at lunch time
  • Being able to talk to an absent parent
  • Having a close friend
  • Matching socks
  • No mayonnaise on their sandwiches
  • A pencil to do their homework
  • A clean PE kit
  • Being ‘first’
  • Having a yellow plate
  • A pony tail instead of plaits

So, I’m a teacher, not a social worker, my job is to teach and ensure the children become ‘cleverer’ (and there’s been quite a bit of debate about the use of that word this week in my classroom) and I know this.  It’s what I trained to do.  But I don’t leave my heart behind when I enter the classroom or school.  I can’t ignore the girl who can’t think about anything else other than the fact that her mum has walked out on the family vowing not to return and as a consequence the child hasn’t produced any work that morning. (Not in present school).

I have been rewarded many times over for taking time to know these things about children.  I enjoy being privy to the details that occupy their minds when they are not in lessons (lunchtimes can be so funny and entertaining) and if this means that sometimes I then have to do something about what I have been told, then I will.




About hardingsonline

My first career was in the Nuclear Engineering Industry but I took the opportunity for a career break/rethink when my youngest son was born. I worked as a Teaching Assistant for ten years and during the last five of those I completed my teaching qualification part-time whilst working full time and bringing up my two sons. I qualified to teach in 2006 and have worked in two primary schools. I have been a SENCO for five and a half years and I am passionate about making outstanding provision for children with special needs. I am on the senior leadership team and enjoy the resposibility and challenge of this alongside my class teaching. I love being a teacher and retraining was the best career decision I have made. I am always looking to learn and improve what I do in school.
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