Holistic Child Development in The Early Years

The Holistic Development of a Child During the Early Years

Are you a concerned parent who wants to make sure that your child grows well to become a more well-rounded individual or ‘holistically’? Then, you might want to know more about holistic development and how to enable it intentionally.

Even though your child will grow holistically on its own, too, as most children do, however, you can pay extra attention to the same as well. There are certain things, games, and activities that you can take part in to speed up the process of holistic development in your child.

The environment around the child in the early years affects the child’s development the most. Be it school, home, or the playground. Overall, the environment should be conducive to your kid’s growth.

What is Holistic Development?

What is Holistic Development?

“Education is bringout the the best in man-body, soul, and spirit.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi equated holistic development with education, and ideally, that should be the main goal of education, i.e., to educate people to make them grow holistically – in all ways. So development in all spheres of life, be it physical, emotional, social, mental, and spiritual, is known as holistic development.

Physical development is easy, and it just requires enough nutrition and exercise. However, holistic development is a much wider term and, hence, may require extra attention.

How to Enable Holistic Development?

How to Enable Holistic Development?

1. Hands-On Experience

While traditional academic or theoretical knowledge builds the foundation and concepts of your kid, it’s crucial to incorporate hands-on experience for more practical and experiential learning.

For instance, a problem-solving exercise, knowing about community problems, or innovating products by applying the concepts the kid learns in theory is crucial. This not only promotes innovation in the country but also gives room to develop creative freedom in the process.

To enable this, parents and teachers need to work in tandem because it’s their teaching style that’s going to set the tone for the lifetime.

2. Interdisciplinary Curriculum

As we grow older, the curriculum we teach in institutions gets more pinpointed. Whereas, in early years, we are taught various subjects to sensitize the kid for the real world. So, it’s essential to create a curriculum that has many disciplines merged into one.

Be it science, commerce, humanities, creative fields like filmmaking, poetry, etc. All these should be amalgamated into a single curriculum to promote the holistic development of a child.

To enable this, other than schools, parents can also sign up their kids for various classes after school, i.e., yoga classes, music sessions, etc. Introducing the kid to various curriculums improves holistic development and develops a well-rounded personality.

3. Incorporating Emotional Reflection

We understand that, as a concerned parent, it’s not always easy to look beyond academic grades, and there is no blaming you since we all have been brought up like this. But in contemporary times, mental health has to take priority as much as academic growth.

As a parent or a teacher, to incorporate mental health, you could start by teaching your kid empathy by teaching them effective listening and observation techniques, teaching about various social issues plaguing our society, etc.

Incorporating emotional reflection, which means being aware of your mental state and taking appropriate actions if needed, is a crucial life skill that helps individuals navigate the rough waters of life with ease. Teach them how it’s okay not to be happy all the time, to score high consistently, etc. This will positively impact holistic development.

4. Freedom to Explore

Nothing hinders holistic development as much as the following rigidity. Ever since we got into formal schooling, we followed a set syllabus with a predefined time, completely ignoring the fact that some kids learn at different paces, and not all of them want to be academicians.

To change this narrative, you need to let the kid explore different areas and let the kid pursue different hobbies and interests. This will help your kid find his voice, which will be essential for the holistic development of your child.

Forcing students to be part of the huddle is highly unethical, and it often leads to low self-esteem in the kid. Holistic development ensures that your kid grows in all aspects, and the choices and failures only make them stronger and wiser.

5. Balancing Physical and Academic Growth

As we discussed above, the one hindrance to the holistic development of your kid is the rigidity of the curriculum and the sole focus on studies. Physical growth and activities are completely ignored, which leads to poor growth, frequent illnesses, rising obesity in kids, etc. So, it’s essential to find a suitable balance between academics and extracurricular activities. Even one hour of extra-curricular activity and four hours of work is justified only when the extra-curricular activity is fairly regular.

These activities refresh the mood and mind and give kids enough energy to tackle the challenges of everyday life. Music and art help people think and act as fodder for their social and emotional development.

Why Does Holistic Development Matter for a Child?

Why Does Holistic Development Matter for a Child?

It is proven scientifically that a kid’s development happens at a much faster rate when they are younger. So it’s essential for you to start as early as possible.

There are numerous reasons why holistic development is important:

1. Good Personality

Holistic development promotes a good and well-rounded personality in a kid who is ready to handle whatever life throws at them. When mental, physical, social, emotional, and cultural growth works in tandem, developing a good personality is a given.

2. Promotes Innovation

QAs we already discussed, in holistic development, your kid is introduced to various activities, areas of interest, hobbies, etc., which, in a way, frees their thinking as they are aware of many things, which makes their thinking multidimensional.

3. Interpersonal Skills

Developing interpersonal skills is a key element in the holistic development of a child. The skill of effective and empathetic communication has never been as crucial before as it is today. When you indulge your kids in hands-on learning and make them a part of various project activities, they get in an environment where they meet various people. This leads to them talking more and learning social etiquette as well.

Role of Parents in The Holistic Development of Their Kid

Role of Parents in The Holistic Development of Their Kid

1. Physical Development

As a parent, to propel the physical development of your kid, it’s crucial that you engage your kid in activities involving motor skills like climbing, jumping, swinging, running, etc.

If your kid is an infant, then fine-tune the motor skills by making them practice how to hold a crayon, mold playdough, or play with blocks. Recognizing these physical development milestones is crucial to judge the holistic development of your kid.

2. Emotional Maturity

There is no shortcut for developing emotional maturity. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t aid emotional maturity. Creating awareness of different issues through books, documentaries, and stories is a good way to introduce your kid to various scenarios.

You can learn empathy, i.e., understanding others’ pain, which can be taught at home through open and real communication. Make it okay in your home to talk about not just success but also failures and challenges that you face in life.

Share different experiences of yours and discuss the different outcomes that can play out—for instance, any mistakes you made in college or your career.

3. Social and Communication Skills

For promoting holistic development in your kid, it’s crucial that your child take part in some of the activities mentioned above. When your kid interacts with other kids, it will help develop communication skills, and the fear of speaking will also take a backseat. It’s important, as a parent, to be patient with the child.

In your home environment, try speaking more effectively and watch more shows to develop your vocab and language skills better. On promoting social skills, as a family, take an outing together or enjoy a meal together every day with some or no guests over.

This will prepare your child for all sorts of conversations and situations they might encounter later in life. This helps in developing the holistic personality of your kid.

4. Path Towards Spirituality

Spirituality is an integral part of holistic development. To develop this, indulge your kid in moral stories and the ideas behind them. Teach them the values of beliefs, values, and traditions and why they are considered important pillars of our society.

Teach your kid to care about the surroundings, the importance of a good environment, and discipline in life. Moreover, nurture your kids by encouraging their participation in community programs, allowing them to branch out their interests.

5. Intellectual Awakening

When your kid is introduced to several new areas in life and also taking part in activities regularly, then it’s natural that your kid might be intellectually ahead of others. You should focus on the ‘play and learn’ concept, where your kid will gain learning by playing.

Moreover, you can also consider reading to your kid, either at a dedicated time or when they are just going to bed. It will not only make them sleep deeper and faster but also enhance their cognitive development, invoking interest in many areas. It is a key aspect of holistic development.

Final Thoughts

We understand that it’s tough promoting holistic development in a kid. You might be worried that you will burden your kid with more things to do and end up hurting the growth of your kid rather than promoting it. It’s a genuine concern, but it can be alleviated by a simple method of trial and error.

If some activity or technique to teach your kid is not working out for them, please ask the children what seems to be the issue so that you can make amends. Be very careful with your tone, as you don’t want to come across as condescending or scolding your kid.

Start with your home. Focus on the conversations that happen in the home. The goal of holistic development is to ensure that your kid becomes a high-functioning individual with a gentle heart.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Can We Call a Development ‘Holistic?’

A development is called holistic when the development is not skewed only towards a few factors and focuses on balancing all the aspects. For instance, when a kid grows physically, you don’t see the signs of being emotionally and socially mature. In this case, the development can be called non-holistic.

What is a Holistic Activity?

Any activity that your kid is a part of which tends to develop many aspects of your child’s growth is known as holistic activity. Generally, these activities focus on hands-on experience, putting more emphasis on communication and allowing children to move and use their cognitive and thinking skills. For instance, a treasure-hunting competition might be the best holistic activity that one can think of.

Siddharth Mehta

Siddhartha Mehta, holding a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Yale University, has contributed to various platforms. With over two decades of experience in academic research and practical application, his work focuses on the multifaceted nature of child growth and learning.
He has also worked with various NGOs, developing programs for child welfare and holistic development. His approach to writing is deeply influenced by his travels and his love for cultural diversity, which he believes is crucial in understanding developmental paradigms. He is a great painter, often integrating artistic elements into his developmental strategies.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *