In this article, we discuss how holistic development for every learner can be checked and assessed with the use of indicators and the components that match each of their categories. Through these, the corresponding matches provide a glance of how each tenet can be grounded through indicators. All these are based on the basic tenets of the Whole Child approach which ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Further, we look into the sustainability of each standard in terms of how it comprehensively improves the whole community.
Every school must sustain a culture that supports and reinforces the health and well-being of each student. This extends to each school's health education curriculum and instruction support being designed to prioritize and reinforce the push towards a healthy learning environment, not just in terms of physical health, but also with the mental, emotional, and social dimensions of health. This means that each component of health is integrated into the holistic approach: lifelong achievements are supported through adequate knowledge of basic fitness, positive attitudes and behaviors, and basic life skills that promote a healthy balance for young learner's developing minds and bodies. Having a healthy environment, in this sense, should also comprise of well-integrated professional development and assessment practices that help support and address the health needs of everyone in the learning community: from teachers, to the staff members, to parents, and to the young learners themselves. This means having, setting, and aspiring to reach realistic health goals for students and school staff that are built on accurate data and sound science: from healthy eating patterns to food safety and nutrition, to routine food services and special programs for students and staff.
A safe environment means a happy and positive environment for learning. When we consider the school as a learning environment, the first thing that comes to mind is how it is built and designed with the learner's safety as its priority. The grounds, playground equipment, vehicles, and details of the internal and external spaces of the school must be secure and must meet all established safety and environmental standards. The structures must be well-built, with good flowing spaces for walking and adequate spaces for vehicles like bicycles and other automotives. The school must also bear in mind the needs of those who are physically challenged: properly placed ramps and holding rails must be made and polished without defects. With these physical safety measures in place, the definition of safety can now be extended with further indicators that help build a space where students can feel valued, respected, and cared for. Every school that aspires to create a holistic learning environment must take into account that the behavioral and social aspects of development are also important in providing a safe space for young learners. Practicing social-emotional skills like effective listening, conflict resolution, problem solving, personal reflection and responsibility, and ethical decision making helps shape the way young learners develop their perspectives of the world and the community around them.
Learning in a rapidly changing world can be complicated, and one thing that runs through a holistic learning environment is this: connection. Broader and stronger connections between a student, the school, and the whole community that they live with is key to creating and sustaining active learning strategies and new modes of cooperative learning and project-based learning. This helps schools offer and provide a range of opportunities for every young learner to contribute to and learn within the community at large: from service learning to internships with industry partners, apprenticeships with renowned professionals in a young learner's chosen field, to civic and social volunteering projects that widen a young learner's awareness of the world around them. With the wider awareness brought about by these initiatives, young learners can now begin to be active citizens, voicing their concerns over problems that bear a relevance to their local situations and further reflect on the changing needs of a global world. When a young learner knows how their decisions resonate with the world at large, they begin making more responsible decisions that help them throughout their lives.
Personalizing learning means growing a set of strategic goals tailored for each student, one that foresees the outcomes of how a student will progress with a framework for decision-making that is based not only on what the future demands from each learner, but also on what each student's potential can bring forward, as shaped by a holistic approach to education. With the Whole Child approach, supporting a student means balancing the academic and social goals in such a way that a young learner's formative years are spent with as much freedom and fun as possible, one that promotes their growth in all aspects of life. From curricular, instructional, and school improvement decisions to the management of student performance information, every school that aspires to create a holistic learning environment must take into account how their respective school's vision and mission reflect with their policies and goals. These ideas must be communicated properly and shared as guiding values that help propel everyone forward.
The way we create what we teach is as important as how we serve them to young learners. A school that aspires towards the holistic development of every learner must make an effort to ensure that every student receives a challenging and comprehensive curriculum that covers all content areas needed for 21st century learning. Aside from having a wide-ranging curriculum, a school must also provide opportunities for young learners to hone their capacity for critical thinking and reasoning, two skills that help improve their problem-solving competency and proficiency when it comes to interacting with technology. By exposing students to worthwhile experiences like community-based programs for extra-curricular and co-curricular activities, schools provide them with hands-on knowledge that become relevant as they transition to higher education, to their respective careers, and towards their roles as citizens of a nation moving forward.
To make sure that a school's integration with the Whole Child approach remains sustainable in the long run, we must foster collaboration and coordination. Implementation is key, and the way we gather data and analyze its different factors weighs in on how we decide for our learning communities. As decision-makers in the field of education, the role of professional development for school administrators, school staff, and teachers cannot be neglected. It must be individualized in the same way that the Whole Child approach creates individualized efforts to sustain a young learner's needs. Schools following the Whole Child approach must regularly review whether they are still aligned with the policies and practices promoted with the initiative to push holistic learning forward: to sustain health, safety, engagement, support, and challenge for every young Filipino learner. With organization in mind, schools must also strive to connect with local communities and agencies that foster the young learner's capacities, helping each other meet specific goals for students through active collaboration and coordinated intervention.
A NOTE FOR THE FUTURE
By sharing and opening this new approach to everyone from the students, to their families, and the schools and communities that shape their learning environment, we hope that today's students can be better equipped and improved to take on the challenges of living with the radical changes that the 4th industrial revolution has brought about. With this transition from a previously myopic focus on what is loosely considered as "academic achievement" to one that promotes the long-term development and success of every young learner, the Whole Child approach aims to support educators, families, community members, industry leaders, and policymakers to change the way they think about education through sustainable and collaborative action.
Learn more about holistic development of every learner here: https://www.rexpublishing.com.ph/infographic/2018/07/whole-child/