To learn at their best, students must be engaged and motivated. Substantial research shows that students who feel both valued by adults and a part of their schools perform better academically and also have more positive social attitudes, values, and behavior. Plus, they are less likely to engage in drug use, violence, or sexual activity. After-school programs can promote academic achievement, but their success requires targeted investment, stakeholder commitments, focused academic support, quality programming, and a process of continual improvement.
Schools and communities committed to educating the whole child engage students in the learning process and provide opportunities that connect them to the community. Students who are engaged and connected to their schools demonstrate increased academic achievement, attendance rates, and participation in activities.
Ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged requires us to continually ask questions and examine evidence related to implementation. ASCD's indicators of a whole child approach provide a guide for continual school and community improvement and serve as a definition of what a whole child approach to education truly requires. Download the set of engaged indicators (PDF).
From the Whole Child Blog
"What do we want our children to be like? Think of that child, that teenager, that young adult and describe them. What words do we use? ... What do our children want to be like when they are 25? How would they describe themselves? Are they content with an education system which at times seems more designed to sort, test, and label students than develop, educate, or prepare them?"
—"In Support of the Whole Child," The Huffington Post, 2012
We live in a global economy that requires our students to be prepared to think both critically and creatively, evaluate massive amounts of information, solve complex problems, and communicate well. A strong foundation in reading, writing, math, and other core subjects is still as important as ever, yet by itself is insufficient for lifelong success. For too long, we have committed to time structures, coursework, instructional methods, and assessments designed more than a century ago. Our current definition of student success is too narrow. It is time to put students first, align resources to students’ multiple needs, and advocate for a more balanced approach.
Whole Child Examples
High School Example
This school aspires to develop students to their full potential—to teach them the right values, create a mindset for excellence, and nurture them to be responsible and caring citizens.