Key takeaways

  • Why belonging improves academic achievement, emotional well-being, and reduced risk-taking behaviors.
  • What are the motivations beyond the intrinsic power of belonging?

Why does belonging matter in schools? How does it affect students' academic achievements, emotional well-being, and behavior

Extensive research has shown that fostering a sense of belonging can create a positive and inclusive school environment, leading to long-term benefits for both individuals and society. This is the antidote to behavioral issues, poor attendance, discrimination, and a lack of purpose among students. It is crucial for them to feel they belong to a community that values and supports them. 

By actively cultivating a sense of belonging, we can create a ripple effect of positive change. Let's explore the multiple benefits of belonging in schools and why it is important for every student to feel they belong.

Teenage friends Multi ethnic group of teenagers in the park together. students high school stock pictures, royalty-free photos & images

Why has belonging become the essential ingredient for student success?

Imagine a winning team where victory stems not from a single star player but from their shared seamless teamwork, unspoken understanding, and unwavering support. That's the magic of belonging in a school environment. Just like a team thrives on unity and shared purpose, students blossom when they feel embraced by their school community.

Belonging transcends mere fitting in. It's about feeling valued, accepted, and seen for who you truly are. This deep sense of connection has been linked to a constellation of benefits for students, transforming them from isolated individuals into empowered members of a collective force.

Research echoes this transformation, emphasizing that a sense of belonging is integral to positive student experiences in schools. 

Students who feel they belong are, overall, more motivated and engaged, exhibit higher attendance, experience less disruption and distress, achieve higher test scores, and complete school at higher rates”

Here are a few research-backed advantages of cultivating belonging in schools:

  • Academic Achievement: Belonging students are more motivated and engaged learners, leading to higher attendance, improved test scores, and increased graduation rates. 
  • Emotional Well-being: Feeling connected reduces stress and anxiety, fostering a sense of security and building self-esteem. Imagine a shield against negativity, allowing students to navigate challenges with confidence.
  • Reduced Risk-taking Behaviors: Students with a strong sense of belonging are less likely to engage in risky behaviors like substance abuse or violence. Belonging offers a sense of purpose and positive alternatives, steering them away from harmful choices.
  • Social Harmony: Discrimination and bullying diminish when students feel accepted and respected. Empathy and understanding take root, creating a more inclusive and harmonious school environment. Picture a diverse tapestry woven with respect, where differences are celebrated, not ostracized.

Students experience belonging not as a passive gift but as a journey we actively co-create. These benefits extend beyond the individual, radiating throughout the school community. Engaged students become active contributors, fostering a more positive learning environment for everyone. A school where belonging thrives becomes a breeding ground for future responsible citizens equipped with the empathy and understanding to create a more just and inclusive world.

The power of "We": Building a truly inclusive classroom

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Creating a school where every student feels valued, seen, and empowered is challenging. Biases, discrimination, and social anxieties can create obstacles, but the rewards of achieving this vision are unparalleled. "Belonging is the irresistible need to be connected to something larger than oneself" ( Robert Frost), and we must bridge the gap to make belonging a reality.

To achieve this goal, we must all play our part.

Teachers must become champions of inclusivity by creating classrooms that celebrate unique perspectives.

Parents can partner with schools to encourage open conversations about differences and acceptance.

Students can be the changemakers, speaking up against bullying and discrimination.

Schools must invest in programs that promote empathy and understanding. They should provide resources and training for staff to create inclusive practices and showcase stories of belonging within their community.

Every action, big or small, counts. We have the power to create a ripple effect of belonging.


Kuttner, P. J. (2023). The Right to Belong in School: A Critical, Transdisciplinary Conceptualization of School Belonging.

Author: Paola Mileo

Posted: 12 Apr 2024

Estimated time to read: 7 mins

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