Children's drawings provide a new perspective on teacher-child relationship quality and school adjustment

Linda J. Harrison*, Leanne Clarke, Judy A. Ungerer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    79 Citations (Scopus)


    A growing literature points to the importance of children's relationships with their teachers as a factor influencing attitudinal, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of school adjustment. However, such data may be confounded when the same teacher rates school adjustment as well as relationship quality. The present study sought to address this problem by investigating direct (self-reported feelings about the teacher) and indirect (representations through drawings) procedures to assess children's perspectives on the relationship. Self-report questions were adapted from measures of school liking and maternal acceptance. Drawings applied Fury's system for describing relational negativity in child-family drawings. Results, based on a sample of 125 six-year-olds, showed significant associations between children's reports/drawings and teacher-rated relationship quality and school adjustment. Negativity in child-teacher drawings was a particularly salient correlate, suggesting that children's representations of relationships can provide a useful independent means of identifying relationship or adjustment difficulties at school.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)55-71
    Number of pages17
    JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


    • Children's perspectives
    • School adjustment
    • Teacher-child relationship


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