Taking a Holistic Approach to Learning: 3 steps to work with educators and support your child

Last month, we explored the behavioural signs that can indicate your child is struggling academically at school. However, difficulties with schoolwork are just one of a myriad of challenges students can face throughout their educational journey. So much time is spent in the school environment, which is often also the hub of their social interaction, relationships with mentors and adults outside their family, and extracurricular activities. Challenges in any of these areas, as well as stresses outside of school impacting their mindset in the classroom, can have a huge impact on children’s mental health, behaviour and identity. How can you work with educators to support students holistically?

What Is a Holistic Approach?

The best starting point is to consider what a holistic approach really means, and its relationship to education.

Holistic approaches to teaching and learning recognize the connectedness of mind, body and spirit. When early childhood educators take a holistic approach they pay attention to children’s physical, personal, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing as well as cognitive aspects of learning.” 

(The Australian Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Report, 2009).

While a holistic approach is well understood as vital in an early years setting, it can often take a back seat when children start to enter later primary and the focus of school shifts to more traditional academic frameworks. Having said this, the assumption that holistic schooling is specific to community and specialist schools such as Montessori is incorrect. While there are educational structures which emphasise holistic ideas more than others, many of these tenets are integral components of education and school culture more broadly. Even the academic components of schooling incorporate holistic elements. This can be seen in the way modern curricula focus on experiential learning (variety of learning experiences and a focus on a hands-on approach), inter-disciplinary learning and problem-solving approaches. As care-givers, we are part of the child’s extended learning community, and can be mindful in supporting this holistic approach.

How to think holistically and work with your school

Taking a holistic approach to supporting your child’s learning, development and wellbeing can be as simple as an intentional approach as the school’s key partner.


Regular Check-Ins and Open Lines of Communication:

Strong communication between the parent, classroom educators and school administration is very important for the emotional and social wellbeing of the child, as well as setting them up for academic success. Regular check-ins may be through email, phone call or in-person during school pick up. This can be an opportunity to gain ongoing feedback on academic progress, social and emotional wellness day-to-day and also give you the chance to give some insight to the teacher about out-of-school achievements, interests or reasons the child may be a bit distracted.


High school students do not have one set classroom teacher for all subjects, but reaching out to their form/homeroom teacher and getting to know their year coordinators can provide a good first port of call for outside ‘parent-teacher interview’ time.


If a good relationship and regular check-ins have been established, it becomes a lot easier for parents, teachers and administrators to feel comfortable when having to get in touch regarding a potential issue or incident. Without the lines of communication being open, parents are often left with only half the picture, or with just one of many perspectives on an issue or event.


Consistent Routine: Knowing what the current curriculum focus is in the classroom as well as your child’s specific learning goals and areas to work on can allow you to maintain a consistent approach with the school. Finding ways to engage them in their curriculum outside of the classroom and to have an ‘action plan’ for homework and learning goals that is in line with their class focus is a great way to reinforce school positively and support your child.



Keep Up-to-date: Keeping up-to-date with the school by checking their website, reading their newsletters and even reading over their annual report and governance is a great way to learn more about the school’s culture and what programs, activities and events they have available that can support your child’s needs. You can also keep up to speed with any educational trends they are noticing, and issues or concerns they have identified across the board and what strategies they are taking to work on them.


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