Child development

Child development

Holistic view of child development and learning


Holistic approaches to child development and learning recognise the connectedness of mind, body and spirit. When early learning and childcare workers take a holistic approach, they pay attention to children's physical, personal, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing, as well as cognitive aspects of learning.

A holistic approach is important when planning and assessing the needs of a child. It allows you to assess the child as an individual, and understand what they have achieved, and what they have not achieved, by looking at how the developmental areas link up and how progress in one area can affect progress in another area. For example, a child can use a spoon (physical), which leads to greater independence and increased self-esteem (emotional). This approach allows early learning and childcare workers to plan for future activities involving the child, which will help in their overall learning and development and wellbeing.

Activity 4

Tap or click here to see what your answers may have included.

From your own experience/s, what do you consider to be a holistic approach to child development and learning?

Your answer may have included:

  • seeing children’s learning as integrated and interconnected
  • recognising the connection between children, families and communities
  • considering learning to be a social activity and valuing collaborative working and community participation
  • looking at the child as a whole
  • focusing on the unique aspects of the child.

What do holistic approaches look like in practice?

An example of this could be further exploration and extension of a child’s interest, taking a small idea and creating many opportunities for learning. An interest in cars could be expanded into where cars came from first, the first wheel, the colours of cars, understanding if and why the child’s family uses a care, why other people use cars, what cars do to our environment. This example shows us how an early learning and child care worker can expand learning into all aspects of a child’s life, including the environment, history, empathy and understanding.

Another example is working with families. Engaging parent/s and carers by inviting them to visit, speak, bring in cultural or work objects to share and participate in children’s development and learning fosters an enormous sense of pride and sharing for children.

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