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Delivered To: 

  • Children/Students
  • Parents/Carers
  • Primary teachers and staff


  • Component 1 : A positive school community


  • Belonging and Connectedness

Special Student Group: 

  • Culturally/Linguistically diverse
  • Lower socioeconomic/disadvantaged


Target group:

Caring School Community program is aimed at elementary (primary) school students in any grade-level configuration (e.g., K-3, K-5, K-8).

Designed for, or demonstrated applicability to, special groups:
The CSC program has been shown to be effective with students from low SES backgrounds as well as culturally and linguistically diverse populations.

Delivery By: 

  • Other


The Caring School Community (CSC) program focuses on building a supportive school community based on caring relationships among students, between students and teachers, and between schools and families. Such caring is expected to increase student attachment to school and mediate positive student social, emotional, and academic outcomes. In a caring school community, students learn to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour. They also learn the values of fairness, helpfulness, caring, and respect. The program’s four components support that learning.



Program content and components:

The key principles of a caring school community include:

  • Respectful, supportive relationships among students, teachers, and families - Stable, supportive relationships with peers and adults create a sense of safety and belonging for the students, allowing them to take the risks that allow for true learning.
  • Frequent opportunities to help and collaborate with others - The students learn to work with others through collaborative academic and service activities. These cultivate both concern for others and the motivation to work for the welfare of others.
  • Frequent opportunities for autonomy and influence - When students have a genuine say in the life of the classroom and school, they become committed to decisions they help to make, and feel responsible to the community they have helped to shape.
  • Emphasis on common purposes and ideals - When a school community deliberately emphasises the importance of learning and of behaving humanely and responsibly, students have standards of competence and character to live and learn by.

Subsequently, the program includes four complementary components:

  • Class meetings - provide teachers and students with a forum to get to know one another, discuss issues, identify and solve problems, and make decisions that affect classroom climate.
  • Cross-age “buddies” activities - a “buddies” program that pairs whole classes of older and younger students for academic and recreational activities. Helps to build caring cross-age relationships and create a school-wide climate of trust. 
  • Home/School connection activities - short conversational activities (in both English and Spanish versions) that students do at home with their parent or caregiver, and then debrief back in their classroom. Validates the families’ perspectives, cultures, and traditions, and promotes interpersonal understanding and appreciation.
  • School-wide community-building activities - innovative, inclusive, collaborative activities that link students, parents, and school staff in building a caring school environment.  Fosters new school traditions and promotes involvement of parents who typically do not participate at school.

Program Structure / Methods of Delivery: 

Teachers Package:

  • Class Meetings Kit. This kit provides templates for a range of meetings with different purposes. There are 30 templates for grades K–1 and 35 templates for grades 2–6. The Class Meetings Kit also contains an Overview of the entire program and a Teacher’s Calendar, which suggests a timetable for implementing all program components.
  • The Buddies program is supported by the Cross-Age Buddies Activity Book, which includes 40 activities in language arts, math, science, social studies, art, music, and physical education. For each activity, buddy teachers plan together, prepare their own classes, support the buddy pairs during the activity, and reflect on the experience with their students afterward.
  • Activities presented in the Homeside Activity Book (each is grade specific) begin in the classroom, develop at home, and then conclude in the classroom with group interaction and sharing. These activities give children an opportunity to share their school lives with the adults at home and give those adults an avenue for communicating with the children about what happens at school. The activities, 18 for each grade, are provided in Spanish as well as English.
  • Activities presented in the book Schoolwide Community-Building Activities bring families into the school and connect students with the greater community—both in and beyond the school. These activities focus on building relationships by emphasising participation, cooperation, appreciating differences, and reflection.

Principal’s Package:

The principal’s package includes all teacher materials for all grade levels. In addition it includes a 120-page guide that helps the principal to stage and coordinate CSC’s school wide activities. This guide also provides specific suggestions for building community among staff, supporting school wide implementation, and monitoring and assessing the program. Principals play a crucial role in supporting implementation of the Caring Schools Community program. The principal initiates activities that bring the staff and school together and integrate all the community-building efforts across the school.

Staff professional development (PD):

Staff training is neither compulsory, nor currently available, in Australia. However, upon request, DSC will send U.S. staff developers to provide one or two-day introductory in-service workshops.


  • Teachers Package: US$200 for each grade level package
  • Complete K-6 Package: US$1,350
  • Principal’s Package: US$385 (plus postage and handling)
  • Faculty In-service Workshops:
    • US$2000 for one day
    • US$4000 for two days (plus travel expenses and reimbursement)

Program Specific Audience: 


Professional Learning: 

  • Professional Learning Available

Professional Learning Compulsory: 


Formal Parent/Carer Component Provided: 

Evidence of Effectiveness

Identified Theoretical Framework: 


Identified Theoretical Framework Description: 

The CSC program is built on the recognition that children have basic psychological needs for safety, belonging, competence, and autonomy (see the motivational theories of Abraham Maslow and Edward Deci/Richard Ryan). Schools must meet these needs if they are to foster their students’ healthy overall development, and in particular, if they wish their students to become affectively committed to the school’s goals, values, and norms. Caring, supportive peer, cross-age, and teacher-student relationships are essential for meeting these needs, as are frequent opportunities during the school day for students to collaborate, exercise “voice and choice”, and provide help to others.

Survey/Audit Tools Available: 



Battistich, V. (2001, April). Effects of an elementary school intervention on students’ “connectedness” to school and social adjustment during middle school years. In J. Brown (Chair), Resilience education: Theoretical, interactive, and empirical applications. Symposium conducted at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Seattle, WA.
Battistich, V., Schaps, E., Watson, M., Solomon, D., & Lewis, C. (2000). Effects of the Child Development Project on students’ drug use and other problem behaviors. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 21, 75-99.
Battistich, V., Solomon, D., Watson, M., Solomon, J., & Schaps, E. (1989). Effects of an elementary school program to enhance pro-social behavior on children’s cognitive social problem-solving skills and strategies. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 10, 147-169.
Solomon, D., Battistich, V. Watson, M., Schaps, E., & Lewis, C. (2000). A six-district study of educational change: Direct and mediated effects of the Child Development Project. Social Psychology of Education, 4, 3-51.
Solomon, D., Watson, M., Delucchi, K. L., Schaps, E., & Battistich, V. (1988). Enhancing children’s pro-social behavior in the classroom. American Educational Research Journal, 25, 527-55.



Developmental Studies Centre

Contact Information: 

Developmental Studies Center
200 Embarcadero Suite 305
Oakland, CA. 94606 5300
Phone: (800) 666 7270