The intervention was designed for teachers of preschool-aged children and focused on fostering close teacher-child relationships through one-on-one play. Children who participated in the intervention showed reduced levels of the hormone cortisol, an indicator of stress, said Bridget Hatfield, an assistant professor in Oregon State University’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences and lead author of the study.
Researchers believe it is the first time a study has examined the relationship between a teacher-child intervention and a child’s cortisol levels in an early childhood education setting.
The findings highlight the importance of the relationship between child and teacher, and underscore the value of warm and caring interactions, including one-on-one play time between a child and his or her teacher, Hatfield said.
“The big message here is that positive relationships between teachers and students matter,” she said. “What a teacher does in the classroom, the way they behave, their positivity and supportiveness, has an enormous impact on the children and their health.”