Teaching the Whole Child: What It Means and How It’s Done

Feb 27, 2019 by

Teaching the whole child. It’s a phrase that’s been tossed around for some time now, but what exactly does it mean? And it does it affect the way you teach? This article offers a comprehensive guide to what it means to teach the whole child and how it may or may not affect your approach to teaching.

The Creation of Teaching the Whole Child

This concept didn’t come out of thin air. Teaching the Whole Child is actually an initiative designed to accommodate the changing times of the 21st century. Children should leave school prepared, not only academically, but also emotionally to succeed in college, their careers, and citizenship. In the past, too much emphasis was placed on grades and academic performance alone. This left little room for error when handling students with different learning abilities and skills outside of academics. This shift in teaching methods better prepares students to handle challenges and capitalize on opportunities, both in school and into the future. Teaching the whole child also involves a strong connection between the school, students, parents, and the community. Think of a well-rounded person, skilled in a variety of things, rather than a student with all book smarts and no common sense or advanced skills.

What It Means for Teachers

Teaching the whole child doesn’t mean shying away from academic responsibility. Instead, it means incorporating other elements into classroom lessons. The foundation of this belief is rooted in social and emotional development and learning. This site can answer the question what is SEL (social emotional learning). In brief, teachers must now focus on fostering different aspects of a student’s personality, rather than just their brains. When students are equipped with the right tools, they can make conscious, informed decisions about themselves and others. Here are just a few elements of SEL that teachers must now focus on when teaching the whole child:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Relationship management
  • Social awareness
  • Responsible decision making

One of the greatest benefits of focusing on a student’s social and emotional learning is that it opens them up to academic success. It builds confidence, improves communication, and promotes positive behavior.

What It Means for Students

Because all students learn differently, teaching the whole child opens up countless possibilities. Students can embrace their differences and focus on personal skills and attributes. Although student grades and academic performance are still of utmost importance, they have the opportunity to shine in new and different ways. The connection between student and teacher is also strengthened. Teacher and student can connect on a deeper level, as teachers dig deeper into student personality than simply their academic ability. Teaching the whole child focuses on working relationships. Those students who were once frustrated by poor grades or struggled academically, are now able to find self-confidence and self-worth in other subject areas. This reduces student stress, improves behavior, and increases productivity.

No person is one-sided. We all have layers and its in those layers where true potential lies. Teaching the whole child gives students the opportunity to uncover their abilities and helps teachers get to connect with them on a deeper level. After all, life is about more than just academic skill. When you teach the whole child, you prepare them for life in the real world.

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