A positive learning environment is where young children achieve physical and psychological safety as well as recognition and acceptance from teachers and peers (Porter 2016, p.5). Such an environment improves the academic performance of the children, minimises the occurrence of behavioural problems, and reduces the rates of school dropouts (Millei 2012, p.89; Porter 2014; Porter 2016). A physically safe classroom is welcoming and inclusive while psychological safety requires protection from harassment by teachers or classmates. Porter (2016, p.17) stated that a classroom that positively supports learning is achieved by creating a sense of belonging, providing achievement feedback, and through prosocial teaching practices.

Addressing Children’s Needs Using Physical Environment and Pedagogical Factors

Based on the case study from Part A, learners’ needs include a sense of belonging, positive communication skills, social skills, and emotional skills.

Using Physical Environment Factors to respond to the Needs

Although the home environment plays a big role in a child’s behaviours, the physical setting of the classroom, relationships, activities, group dynamics and class size also influence how children conduct themselves (Porter 2014; Porter 2016). The following factors are necessary to solve the challenges in the case study:


Children feel safer in a learning environment where teachers care about them. In fact, Porter (2016) used the transient discomfort concept to inform teachers that they should investigate unsatisfied basic needs, like pain and hunger, when handling inconsiderate behaviour in young children.

When the pre-kinder class children become disengaged in the learning process or become defiant or upset, the teacher should try to find out if the inconsiderate behaviour results from transient discomfort. In the morning and after rest times, the problem behaviours may be caused by hunger as some children go to school without eating or they may have gotten hungry after playing.

If none of these seems to be the problem, the educators should check other discomforts in the physical environment. Disengagement in learning may be caused by obstruction to the teacher’s view. It could be poor lighting or design-related issues that prevent the children from hearing the teacher. Disengagement in learning may also be due to a lack of access to classroom tools. When learning materials are few, for instance, children may have to take turns using them.

However, if the materials are very few, some children may have to wait for way too long. The children may, thus, become disengaged in the learning process. Also, transition challenges may be caused by classroom accessibility difficulties and obstructions to mobility. If classrooms are located farther from playgrounds and dining halls, for instance, children may return late to the classrooms after rest and meals.


Social justice states that educational settings should respect the human rights of all children by welcoming and engaging them in the learning process. Moreover, educators offer equal opportunities to the learners, and discrimination (based on ability, gender, or ethnicity) is prohibited (Porter 2016, p.8). As an institution within a multi-cultural neighbourhood, the pre-kinder needs to be free from language or socio-economic or racial discrimination. The educational materials and resources should demonstrate respect for the individual attitudes, values, and beliefs of the children and their families.

Educators should use the spaces within the classroom to display multicultural materials that help children to understand their history or culture, and stereotypical festival pictures should be avoided. Educators should also express appreciation of the various languages that children speak on wall posters or books, enrol children from minority cultures, and provide the learning support/materials needed by children whose native language is not English. However, items that could shift the attention of children such as toys brought from home must not be allowed inside the classroom.

Using Pedagogical Factors to respond to the Needs

Teachers should understand how the actions they take will impact young children’s behaviour in the classroom (Porter 2014; Porter 2016). Educators should also reflect on their teaching approaches to identify how to improve the quality of their instruction. The following pedagogical strategies are vital:


Appreciation motivates young children better than humiliation and punishment. Besides, children who get praised for completing small classroom tasks enjoy participating in learning activities and use such opportunities to share their opinions while also listening to the ideas of their peers. Porter (2014, p.11) found that praising is one of the strategies that help teachers to attract children’s attention while reprimanding the children constantly only makes them view themselves are less valued in the class or educational setting.

In the pre-kinder class, for example, praising children may help to solve disengagement in the learning process. Humans like to be complemented, meaning that children will become more active in class because they want recognition. Again, a child that receives compliments will be motivated to stay attentive and involved in learning so he or she gets more praise.

Giving rewards also motivates children. When the teacher rewards a learner for excellent work or shares such significant achievements with peers, healthy learning behaviours develop. The teacher may take time to acknowledge the accomplishments of every child in the classroom. While doing so, the teacher should focus on explaining the strategies that the recognised achievers used to reach such goals.

Other students may later apply such learning strategies to improve their performance. These activities solve emotional difficulties (Porter 2014, p.4), reduce disruptive behaviour, and enable children to adjust better to school activities. Motivated children learn better and appreciate other learners. Such freedom and good feelings encourage children to express themselves or share ideas, and their communication skills get better in the process.

Providing Feedback

Feedback presents teachers with the chance to connect with children and ensure that learning objectives are achieved. For learners, feedback is an essential method for tracking learning progress, identifying mistakes, and making the required adjustments. Timely and consistent feedback creates an interactive learning environment where all learners are involved in pursuing the purpose and helps to strengthen the feeling of belonging (Steel 2009, p.17).

The sense of belonging contributes to overall well-being and improves children’s confidence and communication ability, and they become involved learners (Porter 2016, p.4). Feedback should as well be given to parents so they know how their children learn at school (Porter 2016, p.7). Information on children’s performance and results may as well be shared with colleagues and appropriate partners. Nolan, Cartmel and Macfarlane (2014) emphasise that educators should work with partners from professional sectors such as education, health, and community service for the benefit of families and young learners.

Planning of Lessons

Given that the children learn many academic subjects daily in the pre-kinder class, an appropriate lesson plan is essential in helping the young learners transition without struggling. Smooth transition leads to a consistent flow of the teaching process. Again, teachers need to assume that all children lack skills for interacting positively at the time when they join the pre-kinder class and must, therefore, be taught these skills (Steel 2009, p.16).  

The lack of social skills matches the ‘developmental inexperience’ stage which Porter (2016) associates with children’s inability to express their own feelings and practice self-regulation. The activities employed in the classroom should promote socio-emotional competencies and help children learn by observing the teachers and their peers. Integrating social skills into the curriculum is also crucial (Steel 2009, p.16). Other beneficial teaching approaches include guided performance and giving of constructive feedback.

Incorporating play

Play enables children to construct knowledge and acquire knowledge that helps them to interpret and understand their world (Porter 2016, p.12). Porter argued that adult-led instruction often demands too much from young learners making them feel like failures. In turn, children play with much freedom and can be very constructive if left with peers.

Although pre-kinder class already incorporates playtime, the activities are more productive if gain intellectual skills, verbal communication, social, and emotional skills (Porter 2016, p.15). Collaboration in the learning environment is, thus, essential as it helps to construct strong interactive culture. Teachers have the duty of keeping positive connections with young children, while also encouraging healthy interactions among learners.

Group activities and the use of less competitive games are vital in creating a sense of belonging for new learners and shy ones. These processes improve communication and establish cooperation, which helps with collaborative learning. Games are fun activities that increase children’s interest in attending classes and maintaining a friendly environment. When children play in groups, they interact with others and learn social skills that help them to make friends.

Another important skill is communication, as children must share ideas to solve problems that a game presents. On sharing ideas, children may experience instances where they have contrary views over a situation. They then develop emotional skills such as self-control, empathy, and conflict resolution. Letting children play on their own is one way of showing that educators acknowledge children’s role as educational actors (Millei and Petersen 2015, p.21). As a result, the pre-kinder class teachers will get to dispel the limited view of children’s behaviour.


Harmonious and rewarding connections with peers can help the new children to cope with the unfamiliar circumstances in the pre-kinder class. Steel (209, p.16) argued that children’s tendency to focus on what favours them, regardless of how it affects peers, is what causes failures in relationships as children settle down in a new environment. Teachers, however, believe that professional development depends on social competence.

Skills that help children to develop and maintain positive relationships with peers include friendly interactions, emphasis on empathy, self-control, resistance to peer pressure, and remaining sensitive when expressing feelings. Other than the relationship with peers, Porter (2016, p.6) states that teachers should also establish respectful connections with young children. Respectful relationships are particularly key in promoting communication. For example, children will be more willing to speak about their experiences with teachers who show interest in the children’s cultures, families, and communities.