The whole child
The child is endowed with unknown powers, which can guide us to a radiant future. If what we really want is a new world, then education must take as its aim the development of these hidden possibilities. (The Absorbent Mind)
–Dr Maria Montessori
Education must focus on the child as a whole -which means, the pedagogy must cater to the physical, emotional, social and cognitive development of the student. It is a fact that every student must excel at the academic subjects, but teaching essential skills that are required for personal growth and successful living is what makes students confident. An integrated curriculum that has elements of problem solving, critical thinking, scope to develop leadership skills, team spirit and collaborative work is the need of the day.
When an educational system claims to ‘educate the whole child’, what does it mean?
It sounds like a new concept. But it’s something the Montessori schools have been doing for many years.
Dr Montessori studied not only the physical development of children, but also the intellectual and social development of a child. She was the first person who evolved the method of educating the ‘whole child’. She said that It is an approach that gives importance to the character and the development of the child in physical and emotional aspects.
Montessori teaching takes a holistic approach to education. Education of a child means providing a comprehensive content and paying attention to overall growth of the child, and not restricting the education to only academic subjects.
The whole child approach ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged; this approach gives the expected sustainable school improvement and provides room for student’s success.
The purpose of this approach is to prepare the child to become a responsible member of society.
This approach will develop and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of today and tomorrow by addressing students’ needs through the shared responsibility of families, schools, and communities. They deserve to be educated in a positive environment where they feel safe, comfortable, motivated and engaged in their learning.
All educators will agree that our mission is to educate our children and prepare them to be continuous learners and responsible citizens,focusing on the students’ social, physical and mental health, access to food, their safety and environment and their exposure to curriculum and instruction.
They must have a safe and nurturing environment to develop academic skills and a positive school environment to foster a safe bully-free school and cultivate a good rapport with peers and teachers.
It is for this reason that schools need to build leadership capacity in their teachers to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary tools and resources to teach and monitor their students.
The Whole Child Approach covers the complete growth of the child as given in the table. (on the following page)
Though schools and teachers are our first platform of learning, the involvement of parents, industries and communities is essential in ensuring the holistic growth of the child since learners are now exposed to the world more than ever due to the advent of the social media. Hence, everybody needs to play their role well in the child’s growth and development.
SAFE & SECURE ENVIRONMENT
Putting your students’ emotional needs first is important because without feeling safe and understood, no instructional strategy will be effective. ~ Jasper Fox, Sr.
It is essential to keep the school environment/infrastructure including the school buildings, premises, playgrounds, laboratories, swimming pool, computer rooms, libraries, toilets, drinking water facilities, school buses, transport area and the surroundings safe and secure. The buildings should be built to ensure ‘life safety’, and be more durable against hazards.
School administrators, staff, teachers as well as students need to be aware and be prepared to respond to any emergency, natural or man-made.
It seems like a dream that schools in our times had no security guards, cameras, or metal detectors. Nowadays, schools tackle their problems with surveillance cameras, additional security guards, effective metal detectors, extra locks, strict rules and regulations. We need to ask why there has been a decline in security and how we should address the problem.
It is a fact that the sense of security in schools has declined. Perhaps the most effective way to make schools safer would be to restore a sense of reliance on the stakeholders, reduce strength in schools and to have rules to ensure safety and healthy interaction with students on one to one basis.
Teachers must keep track of the students at all times to effectively monitor their physical presence.
Watching the students’ behaviour will help in providing emotional support and safety. When the students enter and leave school, the teachers must monitor the disciplinary concerns, medical issues, academic achievements, etc. It is important to have secure processes in place to protect the students from any external threats and overcome fear.
Taking roll checks is a simple way to account for the students’ presence. The teacher must keep a check on the students’ mental well-being. But to be truly effective in the role, we need to take a practical approach to anticipate emotional problems and then act quickly to provide the right kind of support to the right student at the right time.
A teacher’s job today is very complex and demanding. At the same time, it is also the most rewarding job because when the teacher gets things right, children are happy and successful.
All children are born to grow, to develop, to live, to love, and to articulate their needs and feelings for their self-protection.
Health education builds students’ knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health. It motivates students to improve and maintain their health, prevent disease, and reduce risky behaviours.
Health education helps students learn skills which they can use to make quick decisions and choices throughout their lifetime. It promotes learning in other subjects. A study has shown that academic scores of students who received comprehensive health education and participated in sports activities were significantly higher than those who did not.
Numerous studies have shown that healthy students tend to perform better in school. They are always engaged in learning new things, have good attendance, secure better grades, perform well in examinations and are ready to accept challenges.
So much developmental trauma can be avoided if we simply give children the right to exercise, their natural right to play, to move, to explore the outdoors unsupervised… if we let children be children!
Padmini Sriraman, M A in History and Economics, M Ed and M Phil, is the Principal of The Hindu Senior Secondary School, Chennai. She is also the Vice Chair person of Chennai Sahodaya Group of Schools.
She received the CBSE National Award in 2012 and the Best Principal Award from the Bombay Stock Exchange. She has also received awards from Mylapore Academy, Rotary Club, recognition from various other institutions and the International School Award from the British Council.
She has written social studies books for Classes 6, 7 and 8, EVS books for Classes 1 to 5 and articles in educational magazines.
She has conducted workshops in Social Science, EVS, Classroom Management, Handling Slow Learners, Life skills, Value Education, CCE, and Study Techniques in various states in India, also at Dubai and Doha.
She has learnt Carnatic music, does oil painting and was a basket ball player during her school days. Her personal vision is to create a positive impact and motivate everyone with a ‘can do and never give up’ attitude; to encourage inspire and motivate everyone to discover and develop their potential while igniting their passion for life and their dreams. Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org mobile –9841131685