In addition to improving students' academic performance, research shows that supportive schools also help prevent a host of negative consequences, including isolation, violent behavior, dropping out of school, and suicide. Central to a supportive school are teachers, administrators, and other caring adults who take a personal interest in each student and in the success of each student.
School and communities committed to educating the whole child connect students with caring adults throughout a student's school career through a variety of positive relationships. These relationships reinforce academic achievement and social, civic, ethical, and emotional development.
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 supported indicators (PDF).
From the Whole Child Blog
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In this era of school reform, turn around, and educational change, it is easy to overlook the basics of why we educate and what we want for our children. These aren't the typical basics—reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic. Rather, these are the "real basics" of learning: developing a sense of belonging, instilling a sense of purpose, and expanding each child's potential for what the future may hold.
How do we get back to the "real basics" of education? What are the fundamental elements and habits that bring us together and set the stage for lasting, comprehensive—sustainable—school improvement? How do we assess where we have been, where we are now, where we want to go, and what strategies are necessary to get us there?
The Whole Child Podcast is one of the many ways we share stories, insights, and discussions about what works in today's schools to achieve these goals and ensure that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. And this episode, taped in front of a live audience at the 2014 ASCD Annual Conference in Los Angeles, features very special guests from Washington Montessori School, the 2014 winner of our Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. You'll hear from
- Shanta Buchanan, literacy impact facilitator and dedicated educator who values the process of learning. She has been an advocate for children with hearing loss and early intervention since the birth of her daughter Brooke who was diagnosed with bilateral hearing loss.
- Erin Deal, a teacher who has enjoyed working with a variety of grade levels during her 10 years in the classroom, including five years in a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade Montessori combination class. She values the Montessori methodology of teaching and embraces the inquiry-based learning techniques.
- Gillian Hill, a veteran educator with more than 20 years of classroom experience as an elementary teacher and curriculum facilitator. She has supported the school and community and assisted in facilitating in the transition from the traditional style of teaching to the Montessori philosophy.
- Sharon Jacobs, a public school educator with more than 20 years of experience and the founding principal of Washington Montessori School. She is passionate about the learning process and committed to service, change, social development, and above all, children.
- Paulita Musgrave, K–5 math impact facilitator who provides support and guidance to the staff, students, and parent community. A talented community activist, she is the founder of The Legacy House, a nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap, where she directed a federal program that had a 93 percent achievement rate.
- Eileen Martin, a veteran educator of more than 20 years in various capacities; from bus driver where she earned Bus Driver of the Year, cafeteria cashier, teacher assistant, to now one of the most energetic classroom teachers you will find. She coined the frequently shared statement about Washington Montessori School's care of students, "You can't get this everywhere, you can only get this Right Here!"
What are the "real basics" of education?
Washington Montessori School is the fifth recipient of the Vision in Action: The ASCD Whole Child Award. Listen to previous award-winning schools as they share their stories and how they ensure that each child in their community is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged:
- Milwaukie High School (Milwaukie, Oregon) in Leveling and Raising the Playing Field, 2013
- Byrne Creek Secondary School (Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada) in Coordinated and Collaborative Responses to Diverse Student Needs, 2012
- Quest Early College High School (Houston, Texas) in Ready and Able: College, Career, and Citizenship in the 21st Century, 2011
- Malcolm Price Laboratory School (Cedar Falls, Iowa) in Putting Vision into Action for the Whole Child, 2010
Whole Child Examples
High School Example
This school has made efforts to attend to the health needs of teachers and students by designating health topics to focus on each year to strengthen the curriculum and develp life skills in students.