What Is Holistic Development in Children?

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Holistic development is a process of addressing the various parts of a child’s development simultaneously. This includes their physical, emotional, relational, intellectual and spiritual elements. With childhood affecting every aspect of a person’s development throughout their lifetime, it's important proper nurturing is provided. With holistic development, proven techniques are implemented to monitor the child’s growth throughout the various stages of learning. Let’s explore how this is accomplished.

Physical

The muscles throughout the human body are needed to accomplish all types of activities throughout the lifecycle. From writing their ABCs to performing the skills of a trade, developing strong physical skills is necessary from an early age. Physical development doesn’t just involve movement. This element of a healthy growth experience involves sensory, cognitive and communication development as well. Here are some examples of activities used for the holistic development of children focused on the physical elements needed:

  • Implement activities such as jumping between stepping stones or not stepping on sidewalk cracks to utilize the whole body for learning to count. This builds an understanding of numbers in a physical way.
  • Allow a child to use building blocks of various shapes, weights, sizes, volumes and lengths. This helps to develop fine and gross motor skills early on.
  • Instill an understanding of spatial awareness and positional language such as in, on, under and behind. This can be done with whole body movement activities such as playing hopscotch or jumping rope.
  • Use the fingers for counting. This will aid in building an understanding of abstract numbers while focusing on sensory feedback for the child.

Emotional

Having strong emotional skills allows a child to handle challenges they face on a regular basis. These skills offer a way of staying positive even when faced with the difficulties that may occur through school, family relationships and personal conflicts. Here are some activities that will help build strong emotional skill sets.

  • Draw faces on the different halves of plastic Easter eggs. Allow the child to mix and match the happy faces, different shapes of eyes, frowns and other emotional distinguishing pieces.
  • Create a mood meter with the child. The meter should display a range from happy to sad. Allow the child to use the meter to convey their feelings and give them the opportunity to explain why they feel the way they do.
  • Use “Warm Fuzzies” to help a child recognize the feelings they are having as well as those of others around them. The “Warm Fuzzies” can be anything from paper characters the child draws to actual stuffed animals with emotional faces on them. Allow the child to use their “Warm Fuzzies” to help others that may need an emotional “Pick-Me-Up.”

Relational

Building relational skills allows a person to interact within their environment with others. This involves social skill building and ensures a person is equipped to handle conflicts with others in a positive manner. Here are some holistic activities for helping a child develop relational skills in a fun and interactive way.

  • Use teamwork when working on physical activities, such as playing a game of kickball or soccer.
  • Use instances of bullying or name calling to engage all students to find alternative solutions to the problems that cause the incident to begin with.
  • Create role play activities for the child to act out positive and negative behaviors they have encountered.
  • When asking a child how they feel, ask other students to help come up with activities to encourage the child’s feelings to turn around.

Intellectual

Intellectual skill building is important for understanding all aspects of the world around you. These skills give you the ability to comprehend what's going on and to use the knowledge obtained to make things happen. Here are some holistic activities to help build intellectual skills in children.

  • Provide sing-along activities to children as young as infants. Play the music in the car or around the house to give them the opportunity to learn the tunes and build memory and word identification skills.h
  • Create games using noises the child hears throughout the day. Try to identify the noises. Alternate by you making noises for them to identify as well.
  • Sing the ABCs song, Follow up with reading books or playing games using the alphabet.
  • Spend time practicing shapes and colors. Incorporate blocks or 3D shapes that are not always common. 

Spiritual

Spiritual skills deal with more than just a person’s religious beliefs. These skill sets allow a child to understand how they feel towards the world and people around them. Children need to understand things such as positive and negative moods as well as consequences for their actions. These are all aspects that are identifiable with spiritual skill building techniques. Here are some holistic activities to help in the child’s development.

  • Create a game with the child that allows them to identify feelings of others based on their facial expressions or actions.d
  • Ask a child to come up with alternative activities that would reverse a negative mood or feeling.
  • Play dress-up with the child or stage a play using costumes to show expressions of what they are feeling.
  • Ask the child to come up with ideas for activities to do throughout your community that would impact the people, things or area as a whole. Some examples would be to plant flowers at the park, pick up litter or volunteer at a soup kitchen.