ASCD InfoBrief on the Whole Child


Wholechild_bikeAre you familiar with the five principles of the Whole Child Compact? What existing policies and practices support the goal of healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged children? Where does policy and practice fall short of the whole child mission?

The latest issue of InfoBrief reviews the objectives of ASCD’s whole child initiative, promising practices from around the world, and the immense work left to be done.

Also, posts weekly highlights from the campaign, including personal stories and examples of programs that embody the whole child agenda. This week, learn about the Los Angeles County Museum’s work with local schools to support arts education.


  1. I teach physical education so these two articles really “hit home” to me and what I do to try and educate the whole child. When I read about the healthy aspect of the whole child, the increasing obesity rate in our young generation worries me so much. My area of education encourages students to find some aspect of physical activity that will continue later on in their lives to help decrease obesity. There are legislations trying to downplay the importance of the arts including physical education. The arts not only promote health, but a feeling of safety, meaningful relationshps, engagement in activities that become hobbies/incentives to engage in school, and challenging activities that augment confidence and motivation to persevere through hardships. The increasing importance of math and reading is great, but will do no good in educating all aspects of our children with out some “outlets” or creativity that our children can get from these areas. The new campaign involving the LACD is such an awesome movement and I look forward to reading the effects of it. I believe these students and teachers will benefit a great deal and as the results expand, the movement will spread in more areas of the country.

  2. As a high school teacher I agree 100% that we as educators need to think about our students and their whole development and not just their education in math, english and science. Children today are growing up in an even more unstable environment than I did which was only 10 years ago. With the treat of school shootings, terrorism attacks, poverty, broken homes, etc our youth are faced constantly with stress and worries that no child should. This is why as educators we must look at the whole child and focus on not only their education but their health, safety, their interest in classes and overall development into adults.
    With my experience as a teacher I have seen that my students are just looking for a real relationship with an adult in which they can trust and share with their fears, struggles, victories and accomplishments. As teachers we need to be there for our students to listen, share advice, process and encourage them. It is crucial that we build solid relationships with our students so that they can know that their teachers are there for them through all the hard times and good times. Teachers are the rock that students look for and rely on. This responsibility is crucial in helping develop our students into healthy adults.

  3. Building solid relationships can make or break a student’s desire and motivation to learn. I was just in middle school ten years ago and I did not even have to face the pressures and homelives that students today live with. They need caring adults whom they can confide in and “follow” as an example.
    I have been reading a book, too, in which the authors talk about the difference between “schooling” and “learning”. Students do not just need to go through the motions of school with learning rules, procedures, how to do a math problem, and lecture after lecture. Getting them fully involved by interesting them, making it valuable to their lives somehow, and showing the importance of rules being taught will educate them far more than any lecture. Relationships and trust built maximizes “educating the whole child”. Making them feel important and successful while still showing them the realities of hardships and failures will help to mold these students into healthy and contributing adults.

  4. With so much academic focus on standardized testing, the human dimension is often left out when discussing how to meet the needs of our students. This article is a refreshing look at education. It is time to again put a focus on helping students transform into active, productive, and successful adults and move away from focusing primarily on basic skill acquisition. Our students need to be challenged with real world experiences and opportunities for problems solving and creative thinking.

  5. Reaching and teaching the whole child is so important. It is a concept that most teachers should practice everyday. I can really see a difference with my students when teaching them as a whole child. They will perform better academically when they feel good about themselves, physically and emotionally, and when they feel safe and supported to participate in their learning. I related this to a book I am reading for my masters program. It is titled “On Being a Teacher: The Human Dimension” and it continually states that important of establishing a trusting relationship with your students. I believe the trusting relationships are what leads the students to allow us to teach them as the “whole child”.


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