Like many of you Modern Boca Moms out there, I’ve been taking my little one to various local programs and classes since she was just a few months old. Now my journey to find a fabulous preschool has begun and I’m hearing a very pertinent phrase in early childhood being used so frequently and at times loosely. I am compelled to write about these two words that you will hear countless times in regards to so many young children’s programs: “WHOLE CHILD.”
In many mission statements, flyers and conversations with early childhood educators, you’ll find phrases like “We teach the WHOLE CHILD” or “to benefit the WHOLE CHILD,” but what does it truly mean?
Well, common sense will tell you that the WHOLE CHILD probably has something to do with all aspects of the child, which is true. But this phrase means so much more, and once you have a better understanding of it, you will feel more confident in choosing the program or facility that best fits your little one.
Let’s begin by looking at a child as a WHOLE human being. Humans grow, learn, change and feel. Teaching the WHOLE CHILD is an approach that makes us look at each child for who they are as an individual– physically, mentally, and emotionally. Being healthy, safe, engaged, supported and challenged; that’s what a whole child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement really is. Most of the developmental milestones your child has achieved or will be working on falls into one of these four categories:
- Physical Development (i.e. fine and gross motor skills)
- Social & Emotional Development (i.e. interaction and play)
- Thinking Skills (i.e. problem solving)
- Communication Skills (i.e. language/vocabulary)
In reality, these areas overlap, as development in one area is reinforced and enhanced by growth in others. Many of the qualities we aim for when exposing a child to a “WHOLE CHILD” experience are:
- An inquiring mind
- Interpersonal skills
- Ability to feel and recognize truth on different levels
Programs based on early literacy, movement, sensory activities, social groups and of course the arts are all working towards educating your child as a WHOLE.
When it comes to choosing a program school site that encourages the growth of the “WHOLE CHILD,” you can ask some of the following questions:
- I see a lot of information on your curriculum, but how do you incorporate arts and music?
- How often will my child have the opportunity for free play and how is it initiated?
- How are feelings addressed when there is a conflict/incident with another child?
- How do you encourage positive interactions between peers?
- Can you describe an activity that my child will participate in that allows for critical thinking?
It will also make the whole transition to preschool A LOT easier on the whole family!