Preschool Classroom Success: Meeting the Needs of the Developing Child

Have you heard the phrase Maslow before Bloom? 

Before our students can perform at their best and work their way through Bloom’s Taxonomy (a hierarchy of learning objectives), they must first work their way through Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (a hierarchy of human needs). When our students’ needs are met their bodies and brains are ready (and able) to learn.

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Undesired behaviors often stem from needs not being met. By using this tool in our dance classes, we can ensure we are offering a supportive learning environment. We can identify and meet the needs of our students so they can bloom and thrive in our classes!

There are five levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. These needs are often presented in a pyramid, although I prefer to view them as stairs. With each step up the hierarchy, we meet the needs and continue to climb to the top. Along the way, our journey may move down the stairs and that’s ok! We can recognize what needs are not being met so we can climb back towards the top. 

Let’s take a look at the five levels…

Level 1: Physiological. These are our basic needs to live and survive: Water, Food, Sleep, Warmth. We can meet these needs by providing water breaks, appropriate class times (being mindful of naptime, mealtime, and bedtime), and a warm studio during the colder months. 

Level 2: Safety. Once our basic needs are largely met, we can climb to level two. On this level, we need our safety needs met. We need a safe space. We need rules. We need consistency and predictability, and we need a safe zone for our emotions. 

Level 3: Love and Belonging. Once our basic and safety needs are largely met, we can climb to level three. On this level, we need to feel loved and like we belong. We need connection, friendship and community. We need to trust the people around us. 

Level 4: Esteem. Once our basic, safety, and love and belonging needs are largely met, we can climb to level four. On this level, we need to feel independent, we need success and mastery, and we need to feel valued.  

Level 5: Self-Actualization. When our basic, safety, love and belonging, and self-esteem needs are largely met, we are then able to recognize who we are, who we want to be, and what we are capable of. We feel a sense of purpose, and with all our needs met we are ready to take on the world. 

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When a child has reached this level you will see full participation, pure joy, enthusiasm for learning, and enhanced creativity. Can you think of a student or students that you can identify as being on level 5?  Don’t you wish that for all of your students?

We can do this! We can help each and every child that enters our studio reach their full potential. Use this tool to guide you through your teaching journey.  

Here’s to having a class full of level 5s!

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Pam Simpson is the founder, president, and driving force behind Forte Arts Center, which was established in Morris, Illinois in 1993. In addition to building her business from a small, one room studio to a large, multi-location organization that offers dance, tumbling and cheer programs as well as private music lessons, Pam is a leading force in the realm of small business ownership in the dance and tumbling industries as she travels all over the country speaking to and educating for large organizations such as Rhee Gold Company, Dance Teacher Summit, and More Than Just Great Dancing. When not working on her businesses, Pam enjoys spending time with her family and visiting her daughter, who is a performer at Walt Disney World.

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