Before choosing a school for their children, parents should check out the institution’s school climate to get a better idea of what kind of education their kids will receive. What is school climate? By definition, this term denotes the quality and standard of school life within a learning institution.
In order for your kids to benefit from a quality education, they need a school that exudes a high educational standard and whose teachers are concerned about the values and goals of their school. Schools with a healthy school environment are more likely to succeed in helping their students achieve their academic objectives. Such schools will also foster strong character development in their students, reducing the risk of bullying and drug/alcohol related problems.
How Important is a Positive School Climate?
As schools play an important role in a child’s life, parents should ensure they are making the right decision in the institution they choose. No parent wants their child to feel ostracized or unsafe in their learning environment. School structure, schedule, teachers, resources and student population all make a difference in a child’s experiences at school. Positive experiences will make your child feel comfortable and safe and enhance his learning capabilities. Negative experiences will do the opposite.
When assessing school climate, parents need to look beyond the physical aspects of a school. School climate encompasses the totality of school life to include teaching methods and ideology, school safety, relationships with teachers and peers, learning trends and more, on both an individual and group level. All these factors affect how students perceive their school and shape students’ academic growth and development. For this reason, parents should research their options carefully, ask questions concerning various schools in their area and make sure whatever school they choose has a favorable school culture and climate.
Benefits of a Healthy School Climate
There are many benefits to enrolling your children in a school with a high quality of life. Your children will benefit from a higher educational standard due to having teachers that care about their academic progress. They will also benefit from a safe, well supervised learning environment where they can focus on their studies without worrying about being bullied or harassed.
Children learn best when they feel comfortable and happy with their school culture and climate. A positive school climate promotes opportunities for socialization, personal growth and character development within a well-structured environment. Schools with a positive environment offer these benefits and more:
- Higher educational standard
- Academic achievement and success
- A reduction in disciplinary problems
- Fewer problems with bullying, cheating, drug and alcohol use and crime
- Lower absenteeism and dropout rate
- Increased interest in learning
- Quality teaching from teachers who are committed to their profession
- Shared educational vision, values and goals for a safe learning environment
- Cooperative environment that nurtures character development and respect
How Can Schools Improve School Culture and Climate?
With the help of the National School Climate Center (NSCC), schools can learn how to develop and maintain a healthy school climate. The NSCC is a professional organization comprised of experienced educators, counselors and consultants dedicated to promoting academic growth and advancement. The National School Climate Center works with school faculty, staff, counselors, parents and students by hosting workshops and seminars that explain how schools can improve their social, moral and academic skills. Parents will undoubtedly have questions on current school policies and norms that may need upgrading to meet their kids’ educational needs. NSCC seminars provide a platform for people to bring their questions, discuss new ideas and promote change for the better.
NSCC workshops and programs are designed to help schools establish strategies that contribute to a positive school climate. The quality of life in a school affects every aspect of a student’s education by enhancing or detracting from his academic performance. The goal of the National School Climate Center is to enhance learning capabilities by helping schools evaluate current conditions and pinpoint those areas that weaken their system and lower the quality of their education.
Many schools have benefited from assessing the strengths and weaknesses of their learning environment and seeking ways to improve. School assessments look at such areas as student and faculty safety, school rules, socialization, resources, teaching methods, ideology and relationships to judge learning capability. Once an assessment has been made, school officials, students, parents and community leaders can begin formulating a plan to improve those areas that are lacking. A collaborative effort will encourage a free flow of ideas and solutions to enhance schools in an entire area or district.
Maintaining a healthy school climate can be a challenge in today’s ever changing school environment. By making this a priority, however, schools from K-12 grade level can strengthen their learning environments against such negative factors as bullying, truancy, cheating and student dropouts. Difficulties with bullying, drugs, alcohol, etc., plague almost every school in society today. As a result, many children and teens fail to receive the quality education they need. By supporting changes that will improve the quality of life in their children’s school, parents can help boost their children’s academic performance.
School Culture vs School Climate
What is school climate compared to school culture? School culture and climate are similar in many ways; however, they are not the same. Modern educators distinguish the difference by giving the following definition for each:
School culture is defined as the physical state of a school or learning institution. An old school building or worn equipment on school grounds, for example, would be considered part of the institution’s culture.
School climate refers to student, faculty or parental perspectives and experiences in relation to a school’s learning environment. These perspectives are subjective, as people may feel differently about the same situation. One student may feel discouraged by having to attend an old school building and feel the institution has little to offer due to its worn state. In contrast, another student may be enthralled by the school’s uniqueness and appreciate its historical value. By getting input from a wide variety of sources, i.e. teachers, parents, students and local community, school officials will have a better idea of how to upgrade their establishment so that students can enjoy a favorable and positive school climate.