What does “Educating the Whole Child” mean?


"Educating the Whole Child" was identified in the ONE by ONE Community Agreement as a top priority for improving education in Duval County. It has also been adopted as a key strategic plan goal by Duval County Public Schools. But what exactly does "Educating the Whole Child" mean?

The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) has developed a useful framework for helping us think about what educating the whole child includes.

These are ASCD's whole child tenets:

  • Each student enters schools healthy and learns about healthy lifestyle. Healthy students (both emotionally and physically) do better in school. Healthy students tend to miss fewer classes, engage less in risky behaviors, and achieve better academic scores.
  • Each student has a safe environment both physically and emotionally. Studies have shown that when students feel safe at school they tend to achieve higher academic goals, are more engaged and less absent.   
  • Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community. Motivation is a vital component of students' academic life. Students who are motivated and engaged have better results both academically and in their personal lives.
  • Each student has access to personalized learning and receives the support of caring and qualified adults. Supportive schools prevent students from dropping out, and from engaging in negative behaviors such as violence.
  • Each student is academically challenged and prepared for success in life, regardless of their choice (college, employment). Providing an environment in which students are challenged with real-world problems that demand higher-level thinking help them to develop skills they will need in their future lives.

In other words, educating the whole child means thinking about each student as a human being in full, and not limiting the scope of education only to a narrow focus on core subject areas.

For more information, read the full ASCD report, or check out more on their website WholeChildEducation.org


--Maira Martelo

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