The following article comes from primary school teacher Amy Pickard, who demonstrates the importance of developing relationships in the context of a recovery curriculum.

After the bizarre end to this school year, it may seem strange to be thinking about a Recovery Curriculum, especially when the Summer Holidays haven’t even started for many just yet. However I believe that something that is a core ingredient to successful teaching at anytime will become of even higher importance and even more crucial once schools return (in whatever format this maybe) after the Summer.

This is the developing and building up of RELATIONSHIPS.

It may seem a simplistic response but I think this quote sums it up perfectly: “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” – James Comer

It is important to close academic gaps but I truly believe this is all built upon forming positive relationships. This made me think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Need and how this may look in the context of a Recovery Curriculum.

So as relationships are the core of any Recovery Curriculum, I started to think about strategies I have found to be successful in developing and building these all-important relationships.

Here are just a few…

Maintain Online/Virtual Connection

The next year may need this picking up at any time with short notice. Use calls, voice or video messages and photos to develop and maintain a connection with your class after you have had a rest for the Summer first of course! I’m certainly going to think about sending things home to learn via an online platform and may be asking the children to record reading at home for example. Accessibility is key though and if a child hasn’t got access to the technology they really need to still be able to access that connection whether it be through paper copies, tech on loan or phone calls instead.

Bond with books

Regular story time is super successful. Research is very favourable in terms of how simply reading a book aloud can help accelerate children’s progress in reading but it also helps build relationships. Win, win!

Primary children in classroom

Develop routines

Build clear routines and show you will follow these to develop trust with your class. Also, have a visual timetable as this really helps so many children when they know what’s happening in a day and coming up.

Find out more about your class as individuals

Make them feel you are interested in them way beyond their academic abilities. This could be remembering they like a certain animal or even knowing something about one of their siblings for example.

Coping strategies, Wellbeing and Regular Breaks

Google ‘Copecakes’ for a fun way to develop coping strategies with children. Use websites such as Cosmic Kids Yoga, Peace Out, Zen Den or some of the mindfulness activities on Go Noodle or guided meditations for example and add them into your day. It gives children a chance to acknowledge their feelings and I have found has really helped them to settle into the other lessons. Concentration spans will be shorter as we transition back into lessons so regular breaks will also be very important. It’s in these breaks we can have some valuable interactions with the children that also build up your relationship with them.


Take photos of activities and children regularly as when you review these, children not only love seeing themselves again but they really remind them of what they enjoyed and this, in turn, helps their happiness!

Compliment, compliment, compliment!

If you see children struggling with behaviour remember to turn ‘what are you doing?’ into ‘Are you ok?’. This simple change in words is less confrontational and in my experience really helps relationship building.

Behaviour top tip

It really does catch on and helps build relationships. Have two children each week to be your compliment crew and spread the positivity even wider!

If you can, avoid assessing children until they have reached a certain level of stamina and built up their relationship with you to ensure the best outcome all round!

But first, enjoy the Summer Holidays and a well-earned break from what has certainly been a rollercoaster of a year! Self-Care and a positive relationship with yourself is also key to any kind of recovery.


Amy Pickard

A primary school teacher at the heart of education for 18 years who has taught across the age range and led a wide range of subjects.

Amy shares ideas and insights via Twitter and has recently started to write a blog to communicate thoughts about everything primary teaching related, but with a specific focus on the importance of relationships.

Follow Amy on Twitter – @teachersparkly

Visit Amy’s blog – Teachers Sparkly

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