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Montessori Education Bozeman Montana

This article was published in the March 2011 issue of Montana Parent

The Child-Teacher Relationship: The Way to the Mind is Through the Heart

By Maureen Bright

On a shelf in my classroom is a small golden chest, lined with red velvet. In it are many treasures like cut out hearts, cards full of hearts, a shiny ribbon and a handwritten note that reads, “I get frustrated. Thank you for understanding me.” Each item is a precious pearl – a reminder of when a student has given me their heart for safekeeping.
Thirty years of working with children and families, both in and out of the classroom, has taught me that the way to a child’s mind is through their heart. It follows then, the best predictor of a child’s success in school comes down to one thing: believing that their teacher likes them and that they like their teacher.

Children are not designed to follow strangers, which is why I start cultivating a relationship with my students before their first day of school, by meeting their parents. When parents – their children’s first and best teachers – introduce me to their child during a home or school visit, I become part of the village necessary for raising their child.  This is a simple ritual, but one that is often overlooked.  

In a good relationship between a child and teacher, the parent is always in the picture. We support each other and communicate back and forth. One of my jobs as a teacher is to help children hold their parents close during their long day at school through various forms of connection.

I want my students to know that it is my job to help them. When they seek me out because they are frustrated or hurt or when their gloves are wet, I tell them, “I’m so glad you came to me.” You might think that my students would be glued to me all day, but the opposite is true. When children know they are taken care of, they can venture forth on their own. 

There is such a preoccupation today with independence that we sometimes force it upon our children before they are ready, causing great insecurity.  Whether I’m offering a snack, help with their work, a quiet space, or an encouraging word, I provide whatever is needed to let my students rest in the sense that they are under the wing of a caring, responsible adult who will protect their dignity and tender heart. All growth and learning comes from this place of rest. 

I have a relationship with each student drawing out their interests at their level and pace. All guidance is done one on one in a receptive space, within the context of this relationship, since the heat of the moment is not the teachable moment. Part of life is learning how to handle disappointment and frustration, so I make sure to allow room for sadness – reassuring them that I’m alongside and that “we’ll get there.” I want them to feel a generous invitation to exist fully in my presence and to be their own person. 

With the mounting anxiety on the planet being felt by all ages, I want them to feel lovable just the way they are – particularly when they’re in a difficult moment. Children, or no one for that matter, should be alone with overwhelming feelings. I trust that as their emotions are felt, and as they move, on the other side, there’s a growing resilience and happiness. 

Why do I delight in helping my students feel seen, known and understood? Because each child is a treasure.  And the younger the child, the more impact we have on their life. And I am aware that I can only guide them along life’s way if I have their heart. When they look to me as a compass, and a source of comfort and guidance, it becomes possible to clear the impediments to their growth and maturation. 


Article Posted July 17, 2017 by Maureen Bright

Turning Point: Some Pivotal Insights into Behavior and Learning

By Judith Bluestone

“Sit Still and Listen”

One common mistake teachers make is to direct children to Sit still and listen.” Without getting into the technicalities of nervous system structure and function, let me explain briefly why, for some children, those are two contradictory statements. There are actually several explanations, depending on the nature of the movement the child is exhibiting. Read More…



Article Posted July 17, 2017 by Maureen Bright

Young Children Develop in an Environment of Relationships

Harvard University

Healthy development depends on the quality and reliability of a young child’s relationships with the important people in his or her life, both within and outside the family. Even the development of a child’s brain architecture depends on the establishment of these relationships. Read More…



Article Posted July 17, 2017 by Maureen Bright

Playing Matchmaker: Cultivating Relationships with Teachers and Adults Who Care for Our Kids

by Dr. Deborah MacNamara

When we give birth to a child, we also need to cultivate the village of adults that will help us raise them. This community may consist of daycare workers, teachers, coaches, instructors, to extended family. This is critical as children flourish in environments where there is a seamless connection or invisible matrix of adults surrounding them. The challenge is parents can’t leave this formation to chance, they must introduce and matchmake one’s children to the adults who are responsible for them. Read More…

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