Protective Factors that Help Homeless Students

Research studies show that when schools are places where students routinely receive respect and support, the students’ motivation to learn is improved. To counter the many risk factors in the lives of homeless children, schools need to enhance protective factors that promote positive behavior, health, well-being and personal success. A child’s resilience is fostered by building enough protective factors to offset the impact of a stressful life.   Protective factors are grouped into three categories:
1. caring and supportive relationships;
2. positive and high expectations; and
3. opportunities for meaningful participation in school activities.

Schools can promote protective factors by helping children and their families link with programs and activities that offer opportunities to strengthen existing relationships and create new ones. School-based parenting and enrichment workshops can help parents build stronger bonds with their children and the school community.

Educators should set clear standards for attendance, behavior and satisfactory performance. These expectations can serve as a positive structure to a mobile family.

When schools provide caring relationships, maintain high expectations, and provide opportunities for participation in school activities, they can serve as a “protective shield” for students. The skills learned and the recognition received in these activities are keys for growth and a sense of well-being.