Teaching to Temperament
October 31, 2018
There are few things more entertaining or interesting than watching a roomful of children. It’s noisy and bustling and offers a lot to learn. Almost from the start, you’ll begin to see some very familiar personality types. There are active ones and quiet ones, happy ones and fussy ones, some who love to show off and others who prefer the sidelines. It reinforces that every child is an individual, with his or her own unique style when it comes to interacting with the world around them. That unique style is known as temperament.
“Every classroom is filled with so many different temperaments,” said Sandra Graham, Kiddie Academy’s Director of Training. “Our teachers and staff work to know every child in their classrooms and identify each one’s temperament. This helps them differentiate the way they teach to meet the needs of each individual child.”
Characteristics of Temperament
Knowing what to look for is important. Behaviorists have long sought to figure out what makes up the recipe for temperament. In general, they’ve landed on at least nine characteristics that affect it. Among them are:
- Activity Level – the level of physical activity a child displays in their daily activities
- Approach and Withdrawal – the way the child responds to a new stimulus
- Adaptability – the degree of ease or difficulty in adapting to a new situation
- Intensity – the degree to which a child responds to a situation
- Mood – how the child’s mood (positive or negative) is reflected in words and behaviors
- Attention Span – the ability to concentrate without distraction
- Sensory Threshold – the amount of stimulation needed to get a response from the child
Can You Change a Child’s Temperament?
Temperaments can change, especially when children are very young and still having their first experiences and interactions with people and situations. But by the time they reach school age, their temperaments are fairly well-defined.
Remember that roomful of children from the top of the story? When you look around, you’ll see the differences. Some children take longer to adjust to change. Some handle the hubbub better than others. Watching how a child behaves in various situations helps us understand what makes them tick. And knowing that helps us anticipate their reactions to the situations they encounter throughout the day.
“We’re not going to totally change a child’s temperament,” said Graham. “They were born that way and it makes them the special person they are. Our job is to recognize and respect a child’s temperament for what it is and to help them grow and be successful in school.”
Here are links to resources for more information on temperament:
“Understanding Your Child’s Temperament,” PBS Parents
“Understanding Temperament in Infants and Toddlers,” Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning
Thank you for reading along, as we work together in raising the next generation of amazing kids!
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