Holistic development includes 5 aspects: physical, intellectual, social, emotional, and spiritual. It derives from the Greek word «όλος» which means the “whole” and it incorporates the teaching practice within the physical, emotional, and psychological parts of a child. In this kind of learning process, the learner is in the center and the teacher facilitates!
A lot of studies around the world have indicated the priority and the importance that needs to be given in investing in preschool education. The great Nobelist James Hackman, winner in economics and an expert in the economics of human development has explained:
“Early childhood education fosters cognitive skills along with attentiveness, motivation, self-control and sociability—the character skills that turn knowledge into know-how and people into productive citizens.”
Text by: Athina Dermentzi
Embracing a holistic approach to preschool education has positive effects on both the children and the society. Research in the field of Neurology has highlighted the fact that the plasticity of the human brain is at its peak during the first 4 years because it develops rapidly. That’s why a rich variety of stimuli can enable the children reach the maximum of their developmental abilities. In this way, the learners become more adequate to follow the next educational stages.
Empowering the teaching through holistic approach can be really engaging and motivating for the learners. The teachers need to think out of the box and cultivate their talents towards this target which can be quite intriguing.
The benefits of the holistic approach are multiple and always encompass all students. It promotes natural learning, more experiential and establishes healthy social relationships among the children which leads to a healthy society in the future. Furthermore, it builds confidence and helps the children accept their identity and personal traits and one of the most important things, it eliminates the issue of unrealistic expectations. The learning procedure becomes the child’s “playground” and can connect with the teacher even deeper!
The preschoolers are taught to reflect on their actions and consequently, how these actions have an impact on the community, society, etc. Moreover, they are tasked with problem-solving situations and learn to use critical thinking, building in this way, strong relationships among them. Happiness and success are tied together with the outcome the learners produce!
Teachers are the vehicle to promote learning in and out of the classroom offering their students experiences and environments to incorporate learning with exploring. Being creative is not easy but it challenges the teachers to think alternatively and create play – based lessons or other kinds, based on the children’s interests and abilities. They can also emphasize on providing opportunities for group work and hands-on activities.
HOLISTIC APPROACH EXAMPLES
STEM is a great way to cultivate learners’ imagination and creativity. It helps them hypothesize, plan, conduct and observe the result. STEM uses different aspects of everyday life (Science, technology, Engineering and Maths) which engages the children offering different results each time and helps them become innovative.
Arts like drawing, painting, pottery, are also considered to be an example of holistic approach which develops children’s self – expression, self – confidence, presentation and exposure. It enables them to achieve cultural awareness and along with personal and physical development exercising fine motor skills.
Music embraces all the areas of child developmental including the aspects of the holistic approach. It can also provide the learners with the right equipment to coordinate the mind, the body and the heart. Thus the children can improve their rhythm, balance, and regulate the mind- body connection. On top of that, they express their feelings and free their body through movements while learning the sounds.
Nature helps the students learn through experience and of course we should mention that nature teaches us maths (through patterns, symmetry, shapes etc.), history (past – present – future), geography (the natural habitat of certain plants or animals), science (the water cycle, the seasons, colours) and, language (new words connected to the topic). Nature is one of the best ways to get learners involved, participate, and produce.
As a conclusion, we also need to highlight the importance of The Ancient Greek Maieutic method, the Socratic method of questioning when it comes to children. We need to let our learners explore, question, find, fail, and succeed. The answers derive from the experience and the exploration. Holistic Approach is a mindset change and we need to embrace it. Difficult task? I would say : natural …