Whole Child Education

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of Whole Child Education. This approach to education recognizes that children are not just academic learners but also social, emotional, and physical beings. A Whole Child Education aims to support children’s development in all areas, not just academic achievement. Here are some of the benefits of a Whole Child Education.

  1. Holistic Development: A Whole Child Education aims to support children’s development in all areas, not just academic achievement. This approach recognizes that children need support to develop their physical, social, and emotional well-being, as well as their cognitive abilities. By providing a well-rounded education that addresses all aspects of a child’s development, students are better equipped to lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives.
  2. Improved Academic Performance: Research shows that when students feel safe, supported, and engaged in their learning, they perform better academically. A Whole Child Education takes a holistic approach to student development, which helps students to develop a love for learning, improve their critical thinking skills, and take ownership of their learning. These factors can lead to improved academic performance and better educational outcomes.
  3. Social and Emotional Learning: A Whole Child Education includes a focus on social and emotional learning (SEL). This approach teaches children essential life skills such as self-awareness, empathy, relationship building, and problem-solving. By learning these skills, students can build healthy relationships with their peers, communicate effectively, and develop a positive self-image. These skills are essential for success in school and beyond.
  4. Positive School Climate: A Whole Child Education creates a positive school climate by promoting a culture of respect, inclusion, and support. When students feel valued and supported, they are more likely to engage in their learning, develop positive relationships with their peers and teachers, and contribute to a positive school community. This positive school climate can lead to improved student attendance, reduced disciplinary incidents, and a more positive learning environment for all students.
  5. Preparation for Life Beyond School: A Whole Child Education aims to prepare students for life beyond school. This approach recognizes that students need more than academic knowledge to be successful in life. By providing students with opportunities to develop social, emotional, and life skills, they are better prepared to navigate the challenges of adulthood. This preparation can lead to increased employability, better health outcomes, and a greater sense of well-being.

In conclusion, a Whole Child Education is essential for supporting students’ development in all areas, not just academic achievement. By taking a holistic approach to student development, we can provide students with the skills and knowledge they need to lead healthy, productive, and fulfilling lives. It is essential that we continue to prioritize a Whole Child Education to ensure that all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

The Benefit of a Holistic Education

Although holistic education developed recently in the history of education, with its movement beginning in the 1980s, educating an individual based on their entire human experience is seen in ancient civilizations, most notably the Greeks.  Also, during the 20th century, several other whole child educators gained momentum, such as Maria Montessori’s self-motivated growth philosophy and Emil Molt’s Waldorf experimental learning technique.

At its core, holistic education relies on four key features:

  1. Educating the student as a whole, 
  2. Viewing students as part of the whole, 
  3. Embracing a caring classroom culture,
  4. Engaging in experiential learning.  

Put into practice, these key features mean focusing on emotional, cognitive, physical, and social development. In addition, it means having an emphasis on being stewards of our environment, an attainment of a sense of self, and a focus on “real-world” learning.

With the values of holistic education at the heart of the learning experience, individuals will thrive. At the root of holistic education’s benefits is that children’s brain capacity increases when they feel physically and emotionally safe. Security comes with benefits, including improved academic achievement, enhanced mental and emotional well-being, increased problem-solving, and reduced impact of inequity.

There isn’t just one way to implement holistic education principles because holistic education is more concerned with changing assumptions about how education is approached rather than following specific guidelines. The openness of the education principles encourages students to think about how they are impacting the world around them, which places a focus on the logic rather than memorization. Likewise, by framing education around real-world problems and scenarios in this way, students are forced to think critically from an early age, which benefits them through adulthood. Being able to reflect on the world around them and reflect on themselves increases their capacity.

Holistic education is not just about what happens inside the classroom but throughout the child’s life. For example, if a child isn’t eating enough or getting enough sleep, it is impossible for them to be performing at their highest capacity. Likewise, if a child is stressed outside of the classroom, it would make sense that they might be frustrated or unable to pay attention in class. Unfortunately, traditional education often falls short of this, neglecting what happens to the child outside the classroom. With holistic education, a child’s well-being is the top priority.

Maine Women Magazine: September 2022

Ever since Jessica Molloy was a young woman, she dreamt of offering comfort to all children with any learning challenge.  School was never easy for Jessica as it often made her feel bad about herself. Diagnosed early on with dyslexia, she remembers those days thinking how much she disliked school and how they treated her.

It wasn’t until her undergraduate school that she encountered a teacher that inspired her and treated her as normal. He understood who she was and how she learned best, and he taught her that way. If only her other teachers had taught her that way, her academic life would have been much better and more manageable.

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From there, she thrived in school and went on graduate school training as a behavioral therapist to help the children she knew were not being supported. Halfway through her graduate program, she realized that her true path was in education. She knew that the way education was being taught must change. Students need to see that they can enjoy learning and how it will make a difference in their lives.

After many years working in private and public schools, Jessica knew she needed more; she wanted to change how education was taught. She knew without a shadow of a doubt that children can learn and feel positive simultaneously.

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What better way to prove that her concept worked than to start a school? Entering its sixth year, The WHILDE School is a private homeschool program in Yarmouth, Maine. WHILDE, which stands for Whole Child Education, is a holistic education-based program focusing on the student’s strengths, needs, skills, and interests.

Holistic education is like when one decides to plant a tree; they do not just pay attention to the type of seed. They make sure to use the right kind of soil; they check to see if the area they are planting has adequate drainage, enough sunlight, and ample water. Holistic education is no different when wanting to teach children. It is a comprehensive approach to developing the intellectual, emotional, physical, social, and spiritual aspects of the whole student.

Founded on Jessica’s passion for creating a place that allows students to have an individualized curriculum program tailored to their learning styles and interests. The school creates an environment where children thrive, become aware of, and are confident in their strengths and themselves with multi-age pods and over 40 in-person and online students.

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Jessica also has a private practice where she and other coaches meet with students one-on-one, primarily working with students with superpowers such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and anxiety, including executive function deficits. When education is approached from a holistic level and is about the individual student, it doesn’t matter what needs your student has, as those needs will be looked at.

Society is always looking for a diagnosis and a treatment to “fix” our students instead of meeting them where they are and helping them find ways to learn how their brain takes in information. We need to accept neurodiversity in our culture and recognize that there are no one-size fits all way to learn.

Jessica’s true pride and joy is how she evaluates her students and creates the best plan, so students have a greater chance of academic and life success. The WHILDE Method is a holistic assessment approach focused on creating a Whole Child Educational Plan. Using an assessment strategy and plan to determine which areas of the body and mind need assistance to help with lagging skills and challenges students experience in everyday life and school.

The WHILDE Method provides a clear picture of the student’s social, emotional, and physical needs so that one can incorporate its findings into their instructional practice with the student. Many educational plans in public and private schools support students’ special educational needs, such as IEPs, 504s, and ISPs.

The WHILDE Method is for all students and complements any traditional plan schools may provide.

Jessica has an active home life with her family on a Casco Bay Island. There is never a slow moment in Jessica’s life, but she says she wouldn’t want it any other way!  The lives she has impacted with her love and kindness are too many to count.

What is your Learning Style?

We often speak about customizing our curriculum to our student’s Learning Styles, but what does that mean? 

Think about when you went to school and how many teachers had their learning style, and that is how they taught, their own way.  Their teaching methods worked for some and didn’t work for others, and unfortunately, it is not always successful when there isn’t a match between the student and the teacher.  As a result, our children learn differently than we did their age.

We also know that some teachers are better than others, just like there are certain subjects that you like over others.  This topic has been studied for years, and I have found that when some individuals struggle with learning, it may be a question of how they are being taught.

Also, remember when you used to compare your talents with those of your classmates? In every classroom, you could find the bookworm, the class clown, the artist, the jock, the math genius, the well-rounded student, and the slacker.  No matter our talent, we always thought one was superior to another. We could not have been more mistaken.

Research has shown that different people learn differently and that our current educational system – the one-size-fits-all model – is probably working well for only a handful of the learners in those classrooms.  The rest are forced to adapt – or not.

Although you’ve probably heard of the concept of learning styles before, it’s most likely been limited to an understanding that there are only three learning styles:  visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  However, there are a total of eight.  Typically people are not exclusively just one learning style or another.  Most utilize a variety of modalities when learning. But most importantly, there is no one right way to learn.  It is about individuality and what works best for that individual.

It is also important to note that just because a person falls into a specific category, such as social learning, this does not mean they are destined to fail subjects requiring logical learning, such as math or science. The idea here is that understanding your learning style does not mean that it limits one capability but instead gives the person a greater chance of success at learning information.

The eight Learning Styles are:

  • Visual or spatial: Is often referred to as a right-brained learner.  I prefer using pictures, images, charts, graphs, maps, diagrams, and timelines.  These learners see the world differently: They are imaginative, think outside the box, and quickly process what they see rather than hear.
  • Auditory: This learning is musically inclined.  They prefer sound and music rather than images.  They thin chronologically and learn best through step-by-step methods.  They enjoy debates and discussions and have strong language skills.  They also perform well on oral exams.
  • Kinesthetic or Physical: These learners constantly move and do something with their hands. They prefer using their body, hands, or sense of touch.  They learn best when their bodies are involved in the learning process.  Many Kinesthetic learners are often athletically gifted as well and tend to live in the present moment.
  • Verbal or Linguistic: Verbal learners specialize in processing information through language.  They prefer using words, both in speech and writing. They have an excellent memory for things they have read, and they enjoy word games and rhymes. These learners particularly enjoy their drama, writing, and speech classes.
  • Logical or Mathematical: As you would imagine, this type of learner is skilled at mathematical and logical reasoning and systems.  They can solve problems involving numbers and easily decode abstract visual information.  In addition, they can calculate relatively complex calculations in their heads and enjoy strategy games such as backgammon, chess, or Sudoku.
  • Social or interpersonal: This learning prefers learning in groups or with others.  They learn best through interaction with other people.  Social learners are gifted at reading other people’s emotions and facial expressions.  They also can easily find the root cause of communication problems.
  • Solitary or intrapersonal: The opposite of Social, this learner prefers to work alone and use self-study.  Most times, solitary learners are in tune with their feelings, who they are, and what they are capable of.  These are extremely independent individuals.  On the other hand, intrapersonal learners are exceptionally gifted in self-management and self-reflection.
  • Naturalistic: Naturalistic learning processes information best when it is related to finding patterns in nature and applying scientific reasoning to understanding all living creatures. These types of learners typically become Farmers, Scientists, or naturalists.  They love being outdoors and connecting with nature.

To demonstrate the diversity of learning styles – We have four daughters and two adults in our household, and we have all eight learning styles as either our Primary or Secondary!  It can make for interesting times when playing games together or around the dinner table!

As a parent or teacher, it is essential to understand these learning style differences to maximize a student’s learning potential.  Watch your children and students. Listen to what they want and their interests. Compare how they learn Auditory, Speaking, or Visual and the other styles outlined above. Compare how they interact with others while learning in a group or by themselves. Each observation will bring you closer to understanding their special gifts and reveal more effective ways to teach them using their preferred learning styles.