What is the whole-child approach?
The whole-child approach to teaching supports and nurtures all areas of children’s development and learning–from social-emotional and cognitive skills to literacy, math, and science understanding–and is a powerful strategy as preschool children transition to kindergarten. It encourages children’s learning and thinking by being responsive to children’s understandings, interests, and abilities, allowing them to deepen their natural curiosity and their eagerness to want to discover and learn more.
The early childhood years provide a unique opportunity to develop and shape children’s social-emotional skills. In fact, research shows that children’s social skills in kindergarten are early indicators of their success in adulthood.
In an early childhood classroom, it’s highly beneficial to focus on academic expectations and to emphasize standards and literacy and math skills, but as educators of future citizens of the world, we also want to make sure that children’s social-emotional development coexists and flourishes along with their academics.
Child Assessment Process
Leech Lake Head Start/Early Head Start Programs utilize Teaching Strategies GOLD (TSG) as our on-going child assessment tool. The child’s everyday interactions with others and the environment are captured and recorded by teachers either by written notes, pictures, or videos. These child observations and recordings are in the moment, as they are happening, and are referred to as “authentic observations”. These observations are written as seen without guessing how the child feels or why behaviors are occurring (objective). By recording in various ways, it makes the observations easy to remember so they can be added into the online software.
Once added into the software (TSG), the teacher identifies the skill levels (checkpoint ratings) within the progressions made up of widely held expectations for the age groups that we have in Early Head Start and Head Start. This helps the teacher understand the individual child’s needs based on developmental milestones (progressions). These progressions are color-coded and guide teachers toward selecting and adapting activities that support each child’s development and learning. The 10 areas of development and learning consist of social, emotional, cognitive, physical, language, literacy, science, technology, social studies, and the arts that make up the ‘whole child’ approach for which we strive.
The TSG software automatically connects assessment data and observations with daily instructional resources, creating an instantaneous and ongoing feedback loop of information to individualize learning and empower teachers to capture observations in the moment.
Parents are their child's first and foremost teacher and advocate, so family engagement is extremely important.
Resources are available to allow families access to the resource library. Two-way communication [such as texting and Messenger, is solely between parent/guardian and child’s teacher] is also available and may assist in including family observations. Teachers can seamlessly integrate those family observations into their documentation to inform checkpoint ratings whether in traditional classrooms or distance learning settings.
Please inform your child’s teacher if you are interested in learning more.