The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: The Holistic Child

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Holistic Child

Holistic education: a system postulating that the human mind must be studied as a unit rather than as a sum of its individual parts.

People are complex.  Children are also complex.  Why then, do we treat children within the framework of their current situation?  In school, they are learners.  In sports, they are competitors.  With their friends, they are supporters. At home, they are, well, all of the above!

Isn't it time that teachers and parents develop the whole child, not simply one of many parts?  The teacher who sees a child crying in the middle of a test may send her to the nurse or guidance office for assistance...or she may allow her to finish the test then ask to speak with her after class.  The child who is constantly disappointed with less than an A+ might certainly be the stellar student, but might he also be frightened of the consequences of a B at home?  Or the child who cuts gym class to help her friend with a problem ... does she deserve a detention or a star for her compassion?  See what I mean?  Kids are complex and need a holistic approach to their education.

What are you doing to promote holistic education in your classroom?  While no specific strategy is the solution to any given challenge, Antheil Elementary in Ewing, NJ has implemented initiatives to improve the overall development of their students. Some of these same initiatives may be the answer you’ve been looking for in your school:

  1. Closing Achievement Gaps: Through strategy distribution within the kindergarten grade level, students with lower reading levels were able to progress to learn at the same level as their peers at higher reading levels. Antheil brought in early literacy work and reading recovery programs and included the same alphabet in each classroom of the same grade level to provide consistency in classroom instruction.
  2. Parent Involvement: Antheil Elementary brings in all 1st-grade parents in January and teaches them how teachers work with the children and demonstrate with the children how the teachers use their specific seven strategies for reading. This allows parents to go home and help their children with what the children are already learning in school, and through the same method.
  3. Collaboration: Teachers at Antheil participate in common planning periods within every grade level every day.
  4. Measure Twice, Cut Once: Teachers and school leaders are constantly monitoring and assessing the learning levels of children on a whole, not just through testing, making sure they’re on track.
  5. Constructing a Community: The school worked to develop a relationship with the community to promote involvement with adult community members beyond parent participation.
WOW! What forward-thinking concepts!  My new series, The EntleTronsTM helps children learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) topics with character education in the literacy curriculum.  Parents and teachers can use these books to springboard discussions using the free learning guides available on the website:

Happy Teaching!

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