ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Educating the Whole Child: Top 5 Strategies for Educators

In a teleseminar recorded earlier this week, Molly McCloskey, managing director of ASCD’s Whole Child Initiative, was interviewed by ASCD author and Rutgers University professor Maurice J. Elias. McCloskey shared information about specific initiatives and examples of how a whole child approach ensures that each child, in each community, is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.

Listen to the interview. [Right-Click to Save]

In your role, whether you’re a teacher, administrator, counselor, school nurse, etc., there are five strategies you can start using now to support the whole child and begin closing the “believing-doing” gap.

  1. Know your kids. You need to know them developmentally and relationally. You have to understand that 8-year-olds are very different than 9-year-olds, for example, and know and be able to make decisions based on that.
  2. Listen to your kids—they are the great truth tellers.
  3. Ask the right questions and be willing to explore the answers.
  4. Be data-driven about all factors affecting the whole child, not just what is collected on achievement tests.
  5. Teach and model across all five Whole Child Tenets: healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Children not only can, but also do learn every day by watching the adults around them.

The teleseminar is part of a series of monthly meetings of the Improving School Climate for Academic and Life Success project at Rutgers, designed to support social-emotional character development (SECD) and antibullying initiatives in schools. In the Rutgers University Center for Applied Psychology, Elias serves as director of Social and Emotional Learning Lab and is the academic director of the Civic Engagement and Service Education Partnerships program. He is also the coordinator of the Expert Advisory Group to the New Jersey Coalition for Bullying Awareness and Prevention and writes an Edutopia blog on SECD for the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

Comments (2)


March 7, 2012

Thank you for saying all of this. American teachers are currently in the mode to give more information faster leaving the whole child behind. I do not blame teachers. They are under enormous pressures from above by well intentioned decision makers who don’t understand the whole child. We need to bring our whole humanness back into the classroom by respecting teacher needs and student needs. I’m collecting resources and ideas to help just that. Take a look at THANK.S again for these great words of wisdom!


March 7, 2012

My comment is that policy needs to be nationwide as it pertains to student teacher communication for k-12. Because of ongoing boundary crossing where teachers have been contacting students privately by cell phones, having conversations with them other than for educational reasons, and now intimate relations with students, universal change must take place. i happened to observe first hand my former fiance retrieving a call from a 16 year old girl who contacted him on his cell at 10pm at night to talk about something other than education.another text from another either current or former student stated “why do we do this to each other?” his high school principal, okanogan high school, in washington state, told me that he trusted all of his teachers and was not concerned about liability. he had agreed that this was ok for emergencies only. the problem with this arrangement is that they failed to monitor their teacher to student conversations to measure whether or not these conversations remained to be school related. because of this unmonitored communication, this teacher had built a rapport with his students for over four years where the kids went to him for everything. they had come to depend on him and even as adults, continued on this unhealthy dependence on this one teacher. the teacher, on the other hand, gained new best friendships with these students as they became adults. at age 47, he then gained the option to pick and choose dating or even sexual relationships with whichever students(male or female) he chose now that they had become adults over age 18. The problem with this is that this particular teacher first laid eyes on these students when they were 14 or 15 years of age “on school grounds”. we do not know the exact motives of everyone or every teacher so we cannot say that this was his nor any other teachers original motive. but we can protect our children early on so that they can learn and get back to education. we need to teach them how to recognize manipulation and how not to be excited about a teacher’s attraction or extra attention given to them. We need them to know that this is not healthy. We need to ban teacher cell phone access period on a nationwide level. And encourage communication only through e-mails connected to the schools educational system for k-12. Sports questions from coaches need to go directly to the e-mails or conversations with parents only. No excuses.

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