kelly10000 asks:

Most suitable learning environment for sensitive child?

What learning environment (type of school pedagogy) is most suitable for a highly sensitive child (as per Elaine Aaron).
In Topics: School and Academics, Learning styles and differences
> 60 days ago



May 28, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Dear Kelly,

I am loosely familiar with Dr. Aaron's work, however, I don't know whether she has made specific recommendations about the ideal school environment for the sensitive child. My gut reaction, however, is that a sensitive child would do well in an environment that has structure with an emphasis on a warm, caring environment. A structured classroom with clear expectations would provide a safe, "holding" environment for a sensitive child because they know how to behave and what is needed of them. It can be stressful for any child when the expectations of the environment are confusing and ambiguous, but a more chaotic environment will be particularly difficult for a sensitive child.

A caring and compassionate teacher and classroom balances the structure. A sensitive child needs a teacher who is understanding and values the importance of enhancing social-emotional development and teaching children positive coping skills. For example, a sensitive child will likely need a space in the classroom where they can go when they are feeling overwhelmed, a place to wind down. An understanding teacher can provide this.

In many instances, a public school could be a good fit if the sensitive child is matched with the right teacher. A school that emphasizes "whole child" education or social-emotional growth would likely be a nice fit. I have some concerns about Montessori or Waldorf schools for a sensitive child as teachers in these programs often minimize the use of structure in the classroom.

Of course, each sensitive child is different, so the child's unique temperament should be considered when deciding on a school fit.


Laura Kauffman, Ph.D.
Licensed Child Psychologist
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