The Benefits of a Holistic Education
When we decide to plant a tree, we don’t just pay attention to the type of seed. We make sure to use the right soil and that there is enough sunlight and an ample amount of water. Holistic education is the belief that educating human beings is no different. This philosophy stresses that educating an individual as a whole, surpassing the traditional core academics creates a well-rounded, adjusted individual.
Although holistic education developed quite recently in the history of education, with its movement beginning in the 1980s, educating an individual based on their entire human experience is something that was seen in ancient civilizations, most notably the Greeks.
At its core, holistic education relies on four key features: educating the student as a whole, viewing students as part of the whole, embracing a caring classroom culture, and engaging in experiential learning. Put into practice, these key features mean focusing on emotional, cognitive, physical, and social development. In addition, it means having an emphasis on being stewards of our environment, an attainment of a sense of self, and a focus on “real-world” learning.
With the values of holistic education at the heart of the learning experience, individuals will thrive. At the root of the benefits of holistic education is the fact that brain capacity in children increases when they feel physically and emotionally safe. Along with that, security comes benefits, including improved academic achievement, enhanced mental and emotional well-being, increased problem-solving, and reduced impact of inequalities.
There isn’t just one way to implement holistic education principles because holistic education is more concerned with changing assumptions about how education is approached rather than following specific guidelines. The openness of the education principles encourages students to think about how they are impacting the world around them, which places a focus on logic rather than memorization. Likewise, by framing education around real-world problems and scenarios in this way, students are forced to think critically from an early age, which benefits them through adulthood. Being able to reflect on the world around them and reflect on themselves increases their capacity.
However, holistic education is not just about what is happening inside the classroom, but what is happening throughout the child’s entire life. For example, if a child isn’t eating enough or getting enough sleep, it’s impossible for them to be performing at their highest capacity. If a child is stressed outside of the classroom, it would make sense that they might be frustrated or unable to pay attention when they are in class. Traditional education often falls short of this, neglecting what happens to the child outside the classroom. With holistic education, a child’s well-being is the top priority.
At WHILDE, we practice holistic education in our school, coaching, and executive function programs. More often than not, when an individual is receiving support, they are only taught how to be more efficient in their planning, focus, organizing, scheduling, analyzing, and completing tasks, as well as stress tolerance. However, we have discovered that this is insufficient. In order to provide even more support, we take a critical look at an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional components. We do this by building programs focusing on sleep, diet, exercise, hormones, and genetics to help our students’ brains stay refreshed and their bodies perform at the level they were designed to do.