Why Whole Child Education Matters

Most current schooling models are heavily focused on rubric-based grading and standardized testing — much to the shared unhappiness of teachers, parents, and students alike. On one hand, these cut-and-dry methods make it “easy” to gauge achievement against one standardized set of metrics. It is, in theory, a way to gauge knowledge and chart improvements year over year. It’s also a way to compare students on the same level, to see that everyone is where they should be according to the metrics.

On a much more important level, though, there is a lot of growth that happens during the school day that is not and cannot be measured by a standardized test. Anyone who has taken one of those tests can attest to how little depth of information actually comes from them. It’s a way to distill a person down to super-basic information, but it’s not the most effective way to gauge a child’s needs or struggles. Enter whole child education.

What Is Whole Child Education?

As the name implies, whole child education is a new approach to education that is intended to do more than just teach children specific tenets of knowledge — it’s a way to teach and nurture growth based on each student’s needs. And while this ideology speaks to teaching based on each child’s needs and learning styles, it also includes a broader scope than traditional models of education. Specifically, whole child education looks at all of a child’s needs and abilities to inform their education plan.

Why Whole Child Education Matters

The idea behind whole child education is to even the playing field, so to speak. The underlying tenets of this methodology include looking at a child’s physical well-being as well as their mental health, and doing as much as possible with that information to create the right learning environment for all students. As a very basic example, a student who is hungry will have a much harder time focusing on the lesson that one who has had a filling, nutritious meal. Also consider that a child who is being bullied is far less likely to perform well if they sit near their bully in the classroom. Whole child education looks at all aspects of a student’s life and how their needs are or are not being met.

The idea behind whole child education is, essentially, to provide better education. But “better education” is a really broad, nebulous term — because “better education” doesn’t just mean cramming students’ minds with even more knowledge, it means teaching them the skills to handle life. Whole child education looks at ways to teach non-cognitive skills (like social skills, civic participation, etc.) alongside other cognitive knowledge.

One ongoing struggle with the whole child educational model is figuring out what each student’s needs are. This is where Bloomsights comes in. Our student assessment tools give students a way to quickly and easily provide insight into their social and emotional wellbeing, which you as teachers and school leaders can then take an work with to gauge class/school culture and make adjustments. Want to learn more? Connect with Bloomsights today!

Social Emotional Development: Why It Matters

You don’t have to be a parent to care about each student in your charge. As teachers or school administrators, you understand just how much children will grow and learn under your guidance. It’s not just reading, writing, and arithmetic, either; school is where most of us learned a plethora of life lessons that we carried into adulthood, and that is undoubtedly how it’ll go for your students too.

That’s a lot of responsibility to have on your shoulders day after day. But, as more study and more effort is put into the idea of social and emotional development lessons, there are an increasing variety of lessons and tools to help you bring this theory of education into your classroom — including easy-to-use student assessment tools like Bloomsights. If you’re new to the social emotional development theory, here are the basics:

Understanding Social Emotional Development

Social emotional development is simply a term used to describe a child’s ability to understand and control their emotions/feelings and how they understand others’ feelings. Their social emotional learning is also the basis of how a child builds relationships with friends, parents, other adults, and so on. Basically, a child’s social emotional development is going to be the foundation for how they interact with the world around them. Given that and the fact that children spend so many hours each week at school, you can see how a child’s school experiences can play a major role in shaping and growing their social emotional development.

There is no denying that it’s important to focus on social emotional development, especially during the preschool and elementary years. So far, research suggests that social competence can have an impressively widespread impact on a child’s success in a variety of social and economic areas later in life. For example, “students who exhibit weaker social competency skills may be more likely to drop out of high school, abuse drugs and alcohol and need government assistance” where their more socially competent cohort is likely to not only avoid those situations, but also to meet more measures of success in adulthood, like earning a 4-year degree in early adulthood.

Implementing Social Emotional Learning

More and more research is suggesting the value of two particular steps in order to help children grow their social competency. First, social emotional development should be a primary focus starting when children are young — preschool-aged if possible, but at the very least during kindergarten and elementary education. Second, social emotional learning shouldn’t just happen at home and activities; children spend a good chunk of their days at school, in heavily social situations, so it’s important to bring those lessons into the classroom as much as possible.

With everything on teachers’ plates already, it can sound overwhelming to add yet another layer to your daily responsibilities. This is where Bloomsights steps in to help. Our easy-to-use student assessments help give you a clear picture about what’s going on with each student socially and emotionally. From there, you can use that information to shift your focus or make changes in the classroom to better support your students’ needs. Learn more by connecting with us by email at hello@bloomsights.com or phone 970.568.8981.

Students Can Learn From Adaptive School Climate Surveys

New advances in technology have made it possible to develop an adaptive, responsive, and flexible survey tool that can deliver to educators more reliable and useful data than traditional surveys. Moreover, the assessment process itself is a learning experience. Through the process of answering research-based questions that encourage reflection over the course of the school year, students have an opportunity to build their emotional skills, learn to process emotions, and improve their social and emotional vocabulary to help them interact more effectively with others and better express how they are feeling.

Building Emotional Skills

Adaptive surveys create the opportunity for students to be actively engaged with the process of evaluating different aspects of school climate. In doing so, students reflect on their own experiences of school life. Throughout the school year, adaptive surveys help students develop their emotional skills to better monitor and regulate their own behaviors, attitudes, and actions towards their peers and teachers. The results are two-tiered: students are empowered when they see that their voices matter and they become more connected to their school community.

Processing Emotions

Emotional regulation is necessary so that we can remember, retrieve, transfer, and connect all new information to what we already know. Children and adolescents who are only beginning to understand what emotions are and how they impact behavior lack the coping skills needed to properly regulate how they feel.

An adaptive survey that consistently asks students questions about how safe, supported, included, and engaged they feel at school helps students to learn about their emotions. By communicating how they feel at school, teachers and school health professionals can use these insights to help their students make the connections between emotions and behaviors which is essential to helping them find the control they need to manage their behavior.

Articulating Views and Feelings

As adults, we sometimes have difficulty articulating our views and feelings in a way that does not invite disconnect in our relationships with others. So how can we help children and adolescents learn how to express what they feel in a tactful and meaningful way? We can start by giving them the right words to say.

Through the process of answering evidence-based questions that encourage reflection, students learn social and emotional vocabulary that could help them to interact more effectively with others and to express how they are feeling. You may be thinking that is what a traditional survey does but there are advantages to using an adaptive survey when it comes to building student vocabulary. Frequently offering a fixed survey where students see the same questions in the same order can lead to assessment fatigue, where questions are answered mindlessly and retention of vocabulary is replaced by just filling in responses. An adaptive survey that uses the same fixed questions but in a different order, at different times, and in smaller batches throughout the school year keeps students engaged and more reflective. It is more important to understand what the question is asking in order to provide a response. As a result, students learn how to articulate their emotions.

Insights with Bloomsights

At Bloomsights, we are experts at creating adaptive, responsive, and flexible school climate surveys. Reach out to Bloomsights for an in-depth discussion on how to implement a quality social and emotional assessment plan. Visit https://bloomsights.com/ or call 970.568.8981 to start your trial of Bloomsights today!