Making Whole Child Education the Norm. Yes!

Molly McCloskeyBy Molly McCloskey

The Washington DC -based Economic Policy Institute published a report about a month ago, and the report’s title alone could have had me typing, “Yes, THIS!” and then attaching a link to the report, and publishing it on our blog, thus writing my shortest post ever. Of course, I couldn’t resist writing just a bit more.

“Making whole-child education the norm: How research and policy initiatives can make social and emotional skills a focal point of children’s education” is the title of this Aug. 24, 2016 report. See what I mean? It had me at “whole child.” If you don’t know why, take a look at my bio.

Professional educators like my colleagues and me at Operation Respect believe strongly in the development of the whole child and that we must teach children the social-emotional skills they need to succeed in school and in life. We believe that each child, in each of our communities around the world, deserves to live in a safe, respectful, compassionate community, free of bullying, hatred and violence.

The report summary, written by Emma Garcia and Elain Weiss, NAILS it:

Traits and skills such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, persistence, and self-control—which are often collectively called noncognitive skills, or social and emotional skills—are vitally important to children’s full development. They are linked to academic achievement, productivity and collegiality at work, positive health indicators, and civic participation, and are nurtured through life and school experiences. Developing these skills should thus be an explicit goal of public education. This can be achieved through research and policy initiatives involving better defining and measuring these skills; designing broader curricula to promote these skills; ensuring that teachers’ preparation and professional support are geared toward developing these skills in their students; revisiting school disciplinary policies, which are often at odds with the nurturing of these skills; and broadening assessment and accountability practices to make the development of the whole child central to education policy.”


(If you know me, you know that I don’t hold back when I’m excited about something like the publication of a report like this, esp. given the fact that it comes out of a think tank that’s focused on conducting research and analysis on the economic status of working America.)

Educators, in order to do our jobs and do them well, increasingly need to engage those outside of our profession to ensure the right policies, practices, and supports are in place so that we can well educate children in safe and supportive learning environments. That can often seem like an uphill battle. But maybe this report will help you …

  • Champion a new teacher professional development training inside your school or district.
  • Encourage policymakers to enact laws and regulations that support your work in delivering whole-child centered education to the children in your schools and across your district.
  • Explain to a parent or local business leader why “noncognitive skills” matter. (Maybe someday we’ll all stop using the term “noncognitive” but that’s another post for another time.)

I know that your time is valuable, but reading this report may help you better help the kids to whom you’ve dedicated your professional life in serving.

As always, Operation Respect is here to help you. We invite you to visit our website for a host of free, downloadable resources on how to create safe, compassionate environments for children and youth. We’re also here to provide additional support in the form of workshops, assemblies, professional coaching, and keynotes.






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