Four Ways Schools Can Support the Whole Child
Children should be taught about how to develop as whole people. Their physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth should be emphasized. Tests shouldn’t dominate the curriculum.
A whole child approach is needed to ensure that children learn. Children need to be supported, communicated with, and modeled. Their brains develop most fully when they feel emotionally and physically safe.
Learning is social, emotional, academic. Positive relationships, such as trust in the teacher, increase the capacity of the brain for processing information and learning. Negative emotions, including fear of failure, anxiety and self doubt, decrease the capacity of the brain. Children can build skills to work with emotions in their relationships.
Adversity—poverty and housing and food insecurity, and abuse and neglect produces toxic stress that affects learning. Schools need to be aware of this issue and create policies and practices to prevent it. A positive school climate, productive instruction, social emotional development, and individualized support allows students to learn.
Foster a supportive environment that promotes strong relationships among staff students and families
Schools should be designed to promote student success by creating a positive learning environment. Students should feel comfortable enough to ask questions and seek help when needed. Teachers should work closely with students to ensure that everyone succeeds.
A smaller school and class size allows teachers to get to know each student better. This helps create a safe environment for everyone.
Looping is a method used by teachers to help students feel comfortable and safe in school. Teachers may also be assigned to advisory classes, which allows them to monitor student progress and communicate with parents about any concerns. Cultural competency means that teachers understand different cultures and how those cultures affect learning. This helps teachers create an environment where every student feels welcome and accepted.
Home visits and regular parent- teacher-student conferences to strengthen the connection between school and home. Staff collaboration and leadership that strengthens trust among educators. For instance, one way to help children feel that they belong is by engaging them in developing their own shared class norms that are posted and frequently referred to, and assigning classroom tasks so that each child is involved in supporting the whole community. Teachers can also send the message that they’re capable. This is especially true for students who’ve received mixed or discouraging messages from adults in the past.
A variety of other practices can be used to build a sense of community around schools. Community walks, in particular, can help build cultural awareness among educators. Professional development can also help them develop their own social-emotional skills and well-being.
A positive school climate promotes deep relationships among adults and students. This helps them feel safe and belong together. This leads to better learning outcomes.
Implement meaningful engaging instructional practices that develop students’ ability to manage their own learning
Students who drop out of school often do so because they aren’t interested in what they’re doing. Teachers need to make sure that classes are engaging and interesting to students.
Students need to be taught how to cook, draw, play sports, etc. Teachers should teach these subjects using real life examples.
Inquiry-based learning is an effective method of teaching because it motivates students to learn about things they care about. Students who design campaigns to reduce waste and litter at their schools are motivated to do this because they see the benefits of reducing trash. This type of project teaches them important skills such as collaboration and problem solving.
Capstone Projects are great ways to get students involved in real world problems. Students are given the chance to explore issues that matter to them. They then present their findings to panels of experts who provide valuable feedback. Their final project is reviewed by teachers and parents.
Students’ control over their own education isn’t limited to school hours. Student-led conferences allow students to share their work with parents, and reflect on their learning. Effective instructional strategies connect learning to real life situations, and empower students to use their knowledge for themselves and others’ benefit.
Develop habits skills and mindsets that build students’ social emotional and academic competence
Students feel stressed at school most of the time. When they are overwhelmed, they are less likely to adjust at school. In fact, they lose 11 million instructional days due suspension.
Social-Emotional Skills help develop greater awareness of yourself and others. Students learn how to manage stress and boost social skills such as collaboration and empathy. These skills help students feel safer and more connected at school.
Restorative Practices help students understand their roles and responsibilities within the community and improve academic achievement. Schools use Circles and Peer Mediation to reduce suspension and other disciplinary measures.
Create an integrated system of school supports that includes extended learning opportunities and community partnerships
Children who come from poor families tend to be less likely to get into top schools. This is because rich parents spend more money on enrichment activities for their children than poor parents do. Rich people also tend to send their children to private schools while poor people tend to send them to public schools.
Community schools should be flexible enough to adapt to the needs of each student. Before- and after-school programs help students stay focused during the day. Summer learning programs give students an opportunity to explore new interests. Immersion programs allow students to work alongside professionals in their field.
Schools provide health, mental health, social services to help students overcoming barriers to learning. Students need to be trained by professionals who work in schools.
These kinds of supports are essential parts of a holistic framework that maximize opportunities for all students to succeed. In practice, this kind of framework helps students, with all their human complexities and humanity, to develop fully.