Travis Elementary students will need stable environment, familiarity

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Travis Elementary is going to be closed by the San Antonio Independent School District as a cost-cutting measure.
How will the young children currently attending the school be affected by this closure? Such a question needs to be viewed from the type of educational practices that occur there.
In terms of young children (ages 0 to 8 years), the characteristics of a quality educational experience are well-known and established in solid research.
The key to that quality experience lies in the interactions of the teacher with individual and small groups of children, the interactions of the children with other children and the interactions of the children with other adults they encounter in the environment.
For the teacher, these interactions should be developmentally informed and appropriate.
That is, the teacher should have a sound knowledge of how children develop in all areas — physical, social, emotional, cognitive and language — and use that knowledge as a framework in their interactions with the children.
This developmental framework also forms the basis of the curriculum that determines the physical setting and activities for the children.
Thus, while the physical plant and the grounds of the school are a necessary part of the learning environment, the most important elements in a child’s learning are the people with whom they interact.
Those people will be what are missed most and that is what I have heard again and again in stories about the closing. Hopefully, the children will be able to find new and positive relationships at the new schools they will be attending.
Hopefully, the students will attend these institutions with at least some of their current friends.
If that is the case, the children will be fine, or at least as well off as they currently are at Travis. If that is not the case, then it will be a difficult time for the children.
One other influencing factor on a young child’s educational experience is the relative size of new school.
Ideally, for young children, numbers of less than 100 children work best. Numbers higher than that can be intimidating and frightening to the young child.
I have taught and observed at local elementary schools that number 400-600 students each, and I felt intimidated.
The dynamic of the institution is changed by such numbers and not in positive ways.
“Controlling” such numbers becomes the priority, rather than those critical interactions.
I would hope that the new schools these children will attend will not be much larger than Travis.
In the end, I think the children will do as well in their new schools as they have at Travis.
They will miss the building and the playground and other things that provided such happy memories. But they can begin to establish new ones at their new schools.

Dr. Steve Jensen is the chair of the department of early childhood studies at this college.


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