Back to Basics in Schools

Improving student learning is the goal of schools, and Victoria Kornfield does a great job in today’s Bangor Daily News of sharing one clear way we can achieve our goal: make sure students have enough to eat. Other basic needs for children include adequate time playing outside, sleep, and positive relationships with adults. When children’s needs are met in these four areas they are in form to soak up the learning available to them in school.

While schools cannot ensure that all of a child’s basic needs are fully met they can help. Recess gives children time to play outside – let’s reinstate regular recess in all our schools. Teacher caseloads that allow for students and teachers to get to know each other enable positive relationships to develop over time – let’s end the practice of assigning hundreds of students to one teacher.  Schools that find ways to attract parents to events in the building pave the way for dialogue that includes helping parents teach their children to keep regular sleep hours – let’s get creative here and offer food, babysitting for babies and toddlers, the chance to see their child perform – in order to make coming to school events a pleasant experience for parents and thus build bridges.

Preparing our children to care for the world they will inherit is a formidable task, but it is not one we can safely neglect. We need well-educated students; a democracy is based on having an educated electorate. Providing for the basic needs of our children is the place to start in improving student learning outcomes.


Kathreen Harrison

About Kathreen Harrison

Kathreen Harrison is a public school teacher in Maine. She has a master’s degree from Bank Street College of Education and a bachelor’s degree from Harvard College. She has worked in a variety of schools in New York and Maine in a number of capacities – French teacher, gifted and talented teacher, elementary school teacher, and curriculum coordinator for island schools. She has lived in Maine for 20 years and has a particular interest in school reform.