Pupils come to school with varying baggage

Children have varying experiences and qualifications for functioning both educationally and socially at school. Great awareness usually exists that differing qualifications for school learning call for tailored teaching, but pupils also have different starting points for their behaviour and emotions.

Sad boy leans his head and hands against a window. Photo: iStock. Photo: iStock.

No child is alike.

They have different moods, for example. While some are always happy, others easily become anxious or sad. They also differ greatly in their degree of extroversion. And children vary in temperament and in the ability to control their behaviour or to concentrate over time.

These conditions are just as important for learning and development as cognitive qualifications to absorb lessons. That must be taken into account when shaping the learning environment.

Differences in behavioural and emotional dispositions have varying causes. Inheritance plays a role, for example, with temperament and a propensity to react with anxiety or sadness having a fairly strong genetic component.

Furthermore, the parenting style of guardians and other aspects of the quality of care which the pupil has received will influence the ability to regulate behaviour and emotions.

Positive and negative incidents in the pupil’s life will also influence behavioural and emotional dispositions which could find various expression in the school context.

A tendency to react with anxiety or sadness, for example, could manifest itself in an increased inclination by the pupil to avoid various types of challenges, a lack of energy to maintain a commitment to work, or problems in concentrating on learning assignments.

Problems with behavioural regulation could be a substantial risk factor for later maladjustment at school, such as reduced motivation, anti-social behaviour and breaches of the law.

A learning environment concentrated on motivation and mastering, as well as supportive teachers with clear expectations of the pupil, will create security, predictability and structure which equip the pupil to meet forthcoming challenges in school.