Fostering the Whole Child

May 2, 2018 by

Photo by Jay Clark on Unsplash

As an early childhood educator, I place a lot of importance on fostering the whole child. This means not focusing solely on a specific aspect of the learning process but instead, teaching the youth of America how to be well-rounded, ethical, and productive members of society. And it’s really never too early to start doing this.


One of my favorite ways to teach empathy to students is by participating in different fundraising and volunteer efforts. This helps them to understand that there’s a world that exists outside of themselves. There are greater needs and causes that they are capable of supporting. All they require is a little encouragement. It’s important to note that children are egocentric by nature, up to the age of seven. This is when they begin to understand the feelings and needs of others, as well as how their behavior affects the world around them. This is the perfect time to start involving students in fundraising and volunteer efforts.


In the small town in which we live we have a shockingly high number of residents dealing with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. And sadly enough, a handful of those patients are children. For the past several months and moving forward into the foreseeable future, each month we “adopt” a member of the community as the focus of our fundraiser. In order to raise money for the family or individual in need, we host different events including fun dress-up days, group walks and marathons, sidewalk and bake sales. We post the fundraising information on the main bulletin board in our hallway where parents can clearly see the reward of their children’s efforts. A meter shows how much money we’ve collected and then a final total of what was donated. Of course, the children enjoy participating in the events but we also talk a lot about why we’re doing these fun things, emphasizing the need to help others.


This selflessness stays with the children long after they leave my facility. I was fortunate enough to have a boy enrolled who decided to use his birthday as the perfect opportunity to help those less fortunate than him. Instead of gifts for himself, he asked people to donate food items to the local food pantry. The food pantry services families from around the local counties by providing boxes of food necessities, baked goods, and some household items. This young man successfully collected over 100lbs of food for local families, all in lieu of receiving birthday gifts of his own. This just goes to show you that the lessons you instill in children at a young age have the potential of shaping the people they become.


I am also proud to have my center listed as an approved facility for local high school students to volunteer their time. The school requires that all students complete at least 10 volunteer hours per year. This is done for the same reason I encourage charity and fundraising at my center – to teach the students about giving back. Not only does volunteering enrich a young person’s mind and character but its recognized by many colleges and universities when it comes time to apply. These students may even be eligible for scholarship money based on their community service and volunteer efforts.


This is even more proof that the lessons and values you teach as an early educator truly are the foundation of a young person’s future. By offering programs that teach to the whole child, you are setting your students up for success down the road. There’s nothing I love more than watching children walk at our preschool graduation only to later see them graduate into the real world. Early educators truly are shaping the future and there’s nothing more rewarding in this world.

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