Catholic schools integrate rigorous academic curriculum with the teachings of Catholic tradition, providing a superior, well-rounded educational experience. Without doubt, one of the greatest benefits of religious teachings is its emphasis on structure.
Why is structure important?
Think about how difficult it is for you, an adult, to manage all the changes life throws at you. Now think about what it must be like for your child who is constantly facing change and doesn’t yet know how to process it all.
“Helping Your Child Transition from Public to Faith-Based School,” acknowledges why having a routine helps students when changing schools, but really, structure can benefit children every day. Maybe you’ve even heard that students crave structure. It sounds hard to believe, but it’s true. Structure, or routine, brings consistency to a child’s life. It takes away fear of the unknown. And according to parenting expert Dr. Laura Markham, “Children’s fear of the unknown includes everything from a suspicious new vegetable to a major change in their life.” Therefore, in providing a safe and secure environment, a school must alleviate this anxiety — or learning won’t happen.
So what is structure in the classroom?
A structured academic environment is one in which there are clear rules and routines that are consistently implemented. Children are far more likely to be successful when they know exactly what is expected of them. This is especially true when the expectations are high and students are held accountable for their own actions, including learning.
But why does structure in the classroom work?
For some students, school may be the one consistent thing in their lives, a safe haven. When students feel that sense of security, they are less distracted and can focus their attention on learning.
Structure also promotes discipline. When we discuss discipline, we’re usually talking about the external type, a negative consequence in response to inappropriate behavior. Of course while behavior management must be a top priority in schools, so must internal discipline, i.e. self-regulation.
Self-regulation, or self-discipline, is learned. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: “the ability to make yourself do things that should be done.” In the classroom, self-discipline is characterized by engagement, completion of work, and following behavioral expectations.
Understanding why classroom rules and conventions are important leads to an understanding of why those of society are too. It also teaches students how to organize their worlds and become better equipped to handle whatever changes come their way. Because of this, structure provides invaluable lifelong lessons.
The Catholic schools within the Archdiocese of Hartford emphasize structure and discipline. We understand that only when these conditions are present will a school be able to foster a culture of academic excellence that will create virtuous and productive members of society.