We often hear about the five love languages for adults, but children express and receive love in their own way too. Being aware of each of your students’ love languages can help you understand how best to communicate with them, and also how they best learn.
We know that it can be difficult to determine and understand the love languages of each child while also managing a classroom. Instead, the important thing is to be intentional and consider a child’s love language when feasible. Learn more about the five love languages and how they can be applied your early childhood classroom.
What are the Five Love Languages?
The five love languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, and acts of service. They are the same for adults and children, but certainly how children express and receive their love may vary. Below are a few examples of how the love languages might be expressed or received in children, but by no means is this comprehensive.
- Physical touch: Seeks hugs and kisses or pats on the back
- Words of affirmation: Loves to hear “I love you” and verbal affection
- Quality time: Values focused attention and one on one time
- Gifts: Lights up when they receive a note in their lunch box or a sticker
- Acts of service: Appreciates thoughtful acts like pancakes in the shapes of hearts or when someone fixes a broken toy
Perhaps the easiest way to understand the five love languages is to think about real examples you’ve encountered in your classroom. For example, have you ever encouraged a student after he or she has completed an activity? Perhaps that child felt really excited and smiled when he or she heard you acknowledge their accomplishments. You might’ve provided the same encouragement to a different student, but that child became shy and didn’t respond in the same manner.
This doesn’t mean that that child felt unappreciative. What it likely meant is that one of these children enjoys words of affirmation, while words of affirmation is not the primary love language of the other child.
Another example of the love languages is quality time. You may find that some children in your classroom require your focused attention when they are connecting. They appreciate eye contact, and they respond when you connect on their level. Others may not require that same focused attention, or they may not require it as often.
How Love Languages and Learning Go Hand in Hand
Being cognizant of the five love languages enables you to create a supportive learning environment for each student. Many factors affect a child’s ability to learn, but a teacher’s care and involvement can help a child grow and flourish. All children learn differently, and they all express and receive love differently.
According to Gary Chapman, author of The 5 Love Languages of Children, “We can prime our child’s learning pump by continually filling his emotional tank.”
This means as an educator, you can help each child’s emotional development through fulfilling their love languages, which in turn makes them open to learning.
As a teacher, you can use the five love languages to think about how you might:
- Motivate children to take initiative
- Encourage children to explore their own interests and express themselves
- Manage children’s behaviors in the classroom
Let’s return to the example above with words of affirmation. For the child who likes to receive words of affirmation, he or she will respond well to specific, positive phrases like, “You worked through this challenging puzzle until you figured it out!”
On the other hand, words of affirmation can also be effective for changing behaviors if that is the child’s love language. He or she may respond more effectively to verbal communication rather than being asked to take a break and separate from the conflict.
Importantly, you won’t be able to use each child’s primary love language all the time, and it doesn’t mean you should only use one type of language per child. Every child still needs to receive all five love languages in order to develop a healthy sense of self. However, love languages can be guiding principles for you to use.
Remember, “Affection and love mean expressing appreciation for the very being of a child, for those characteristics and abilities that are part of the total package of the person.” Knowing and understanding love languages is a great step towards developing a trusting relationship with your students. Love languages can help to facilitate a meaningful connection between you and your students, thus helping you become the best teacher you can be.