Using a whole child education approach, some educators are implementing strategies that cultivate both the brain and body.
The pedagogical approach of whole child education encompasses a complete mental and physical focus on the overall welfare of the individual student. As the phrase “whole child education” implies, this style of teaching seeks to reinforce the strength of every aspect of a child’s life in order to nurture the entire student. By educating the whole child through this type of development, educators create an enjoyable and more subjective approach to learning, while instilling a sense of importance, value, and responsibility. According to Whole Child, an initiative of the global education community ASCD (the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), this method requires five criteria be met for educating the whole child:
- Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle.
- Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe.
- Each student is actively engaged in learning and connected to the school and broader community.
- Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
- Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.
This different learning approach fits well within a STEM-rich experiential education that allows children to develop an unconventional, yet real world, learning process that is his or her own. Through a strong STEM foundation, which emphasizes the search for answers through exploration, along with trial and error, whole child education offers an outline for successfully teaching students through nurturing their curiosity, self-esteem, and accountability.
Every piece of the whole child education formula relates in some way to building a strong STEM foundation. Through the health sciences, students learn about their own bodies and how safe maintenance leads to optimum performance in the classroom. By understanding the psychology of how their own emotions, and those of classmates and teachers, influence the classroom atmosphere, students can learn to contribute to a respectful, nurturing learning environment.
Teachers who provide these experiences of educating the whole child are cultivating students who will develop a greater understanding of concepts that help them grasp concepts in other non-STEM areas, including humanities and the arts. These students will graduate from high school prepared for undergraduate studies or entering the workforce, as their understanding of the world will be built upon strong education principles and acceptance of self.
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