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What does feeling safe have to do with Learning? Turns out…EVERYTHING

Our beautiful brains have one job – to keep us ALIVE.

Before our brains deal with behaviour or learning or relationships – they deal with safety.

The brain is obsessed with safety – always asking:

  • Is my body safe?

  • Am I hungry?

  • Am I free from pain?

  • Am I free from danger?

  • Sensory overload…let me assess.

  • Am I tired? Exhausted?

  • What was that loud noise….?

  • What about temperature…am I getting too cold?

Once the brain has done the safety checks that deal with physical safety it moves on to emotional safety.

  • Is my heart safe?

  • Am I cared about?

  • Am I loved?

  • Am I feeling welcome here?

  • Am I feeling understood?

  • Am I feeling seen & heard?

It’s only when the brain feels all of the above safety checks a in order, that it is ready to LEARN.

As parents and Kaiako we have to remember that unless a child feels safe, loved and connected it won’t be able to give a full effort to learn, plan, regulate and make decisions or think through consequence.

Young brains feel safest when they feel connected and cared for by the adults in their world. Every adult with an active role in a child’s life has a part to play.

If we want to guide a child or young person to learn something they must feel safe and connected to us. To feel safe also means to feel welcome. A sense of belonging promotes a sense of safety which in turn enables our brains to relax and start learning.

In the early childhood setting we:

  • Encourage multiple settling visits = to become familiar with the new spaces and faces

  • Follow room routines = to create a sense of belonging in the space

  • Follow a child’s individual routine = to feel cared for and understood

  • Greet children by name = to feel welcome

  • Keep belongings in the same place = to promote confidence

  • Provide regular pockets of learning where children are listened to = being heard

  • Talk to children at their level = being seen and heard

  • Allowing children to take responsibility for the space = ownership and belonging

Our goal is that tamariki feel a real sense of belonging at Eduplay and a genuine sense of safety. They need to know and feel that they are welcome in our place.

There is no point directing a child toward learning until they feel safe. A very real sense of safety for each child – because all are different.

Safety first is the key to everything – relationships, behaviour and learning.

The best way to achieve this sense of safety for a young child is though connection.

CONNECTION gives us the GREENLIGHT to teach, guide, and instruct a child.

When the brain feels safe it can freely pour into the fun stuff – learning, playing, discovery and friendship.

So, what does feeling safe have to do with learning…..EVERYTHING!!!


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