ASCD Whole Child Bloggers

Use a Whole Child Approach to Create Safe and Supportive School Climates

Katie Test

Post submitted by Katie Test, a communications specialist at ASCD. She has been an education reform advocate through public relations and communications for a variety of education organizations and school systems, including D.C. Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Public Schools and Durham (N.C.) Public Schools. Connect with Test on Twitter @ASCD or by e-mail at

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and we at ASCD believe a whole child approach to education is the way to create safe and supportive school climates in which each child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged. Bullying often is the unacceptable result of an unhealthy school climate. A whole child approach builds a positive school climate, which in turn reduces bullying and improves student attendance, engagement, empowerment, ownership, teaching, and learning.

In a school that supports the whole child, teachers emphasize and model mutual respect for everyone in their classrooms. They apply clear routines, rules, and behavior expectations, and reinforce prosocial behavior. If bullying or other misbehavior happens, teachers assess the misbehavior to determine the cause and the purpose and then intervene based on that assessment. These reforms, as outlined by the Healthy School Report Card, 2nd Edition, enable school leaders to create a supportive school climate where bullying is not part of the school's culture.

Use ASCD's whole child indicators as guides for what a good school climate looks like. These indicators may serve as a needs assessment, a set of strategic goals and outcomes, a framework for decision making, or the definition of what a whole child approach to education truly requires.

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Are your school and community talking about bullying and its effect on students? Do you feel your school and community know how to appropriately address bullying and create a healthy, safe, and supportive environment?

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