Holistic development in children focuses on addressing all of the needs of a child’s life: emotional, physical, relational, intellectual, creative and spiritual. This perspective to development encourages caregivers and teachers to look at the child as a whole and not focus on the individual parts.
Brought into popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, the holistic approach to child development has steadily become more common and led to the development of alternative approaches to education, such as the Montessori method. In this approach, traditional fact memorization and passive learning is eschewed for a more open and explorative method of learning and development.
To nurture the child as a whole, the holistic approach encourages learning through engagement of the environment. Each child is looked at as an individual and will find different learning opportunities through different paths. According to ECE Educate, at any given moment, the child’s emotions, physical needs and creative openness will contribute to his development and learning, furthering the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. A holistic caregiver will give children opportunities to engage in open-ended play while building warm relationships and recognizing the importance of the child’s spiritual and cultural development. Through this holistic approach, the caregiver can focus on the unique aspects of the child.