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Holistic Approaches to Development Essay


My focus with this assignment will be on education as a whole and to demonstrate a knowledge of key legislation in respect of curricula and initiatives within the widening children’s education work-force. I will do this through relevant reading and understanding gained from personal experience, demonstrating a comprehension of the holistic nature of learning and how it is developed through age-appropriate activities. I intend to show an understanding of the types, role and functions of play. I will relate them to theoretical and practical models of play and learning practised at my setting, where the Primary Years Programme is implemented.

The Primary Year Programme (PYP) takes a holistic approach in developing the complete child. Practitioners endeavour to deliver a curriculum that is relevant and meaningful to the child. Piaget suggests the principal goal of education is to create people who are capable of original thought and of being creative and not simply repeating what previous generations have done.

The PYP is a Primary Curriculum recognised world-wide and the PYP for Early Childhood synthesizes insights of educational research pioneers such as Maria Montessori and Rudolf Steiner who maintained that education should be understood as the art of cultivating the moral, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of the developing child (J,1013). Play is child-centred activity that engages young children and promotes learning. Play is the means by which children make sense of the world and is an effective method of teaching young children. Play is a context for learning through which children organise and understand their social worlds as they actively engage with people, objects and representations.

An holistic approach to education focuses on the whole child with care and education being of equal importance; and is known as a combined holistic approach. Montessori and Steiner are among the most important of the many education theorists who have influenced the way children are educated today. Learning through play is one of the key principles that they and other education theorists advocated.

All children have the right to be in a safe and welcoming environment. Keeping children safe is of course “a non-negotiable element of any early years framework” (Tickell, 2011.) In the United Kingdom there is a wide range of legislation enacted specifically with the aim of protecting children and their families. The safeguarding and welfare requirements are given legal force by The Early Years Foundation Stage (Welfare Requirements) Regulations. EYFS is the legal framework for the welfare and safeguarding of all young children from birth through to the end of the reception years in all types of early years education provision.

Learning Outcome 1 -You will need to produce clear evidence of your knowledge and understanding of key, recent legislation & current initiatives pertinent to your setting practice. You can demonstrate this by discussing what is encompassed within the initiatives currently informing practice and identifying the various curricula available to parents, children and settings e.g. National Curriculum, The Early Years Foundation Stage, Steiner Approach, Montessori etc. Higher grades will be awarded if you can demonstrate a critical awareness of the importance of the key legislation & current initiatives pertinent to your chosen age range within the setting.

Learning Outcome 2 – You should show that you understand the nature and meaning of a holistic approach to learning and development, whilst recognising the need to provide strategies for incorporating a range of holistic age related curriculum-based learning activities, which help promote development through play and. You should also identify specific aspects of your age-related research as being of significance to holistic development and explain their importance. To improve the grade you must show that you have considered a wide and comprehensive range of strategies for incorporating holistic age related curriculum -based learning activities, which will help development through play and learning in the setting. Remember that the essay is intended to show your ability to integrate ideas and information drawn from a range of sources

From early in the 20th century, a number of holistic approaches to early education have been put forward and refined (ref needed) . The most important principle of holistic education being to engender and nurture a sense of wonder in the child. Montessori, for example, spoke of “cosmic” education, which “helps the young person feel part of the wholeness of the universe, so that learning will be naturally enchanting and inviting” (Miller,2012 pg for a direct qoute).

Holistic education is founded on the premise that each person finds identity, meaning, and purpose in life by connecting with the community, to the natural world and to spiritual values such as compassion and peace (J ? author ?, 2013).

Miller date ? describes holistic education as:

“…….an attempt to return to the mysterious source of human creativity and authenticity for fresh inspiration. It seeks to enable the wholeness of the human being to emerge and develop as fully as possible. In contrast to progressive education, Holistic education sees the child as an emerging spiritual being within a larger planetary and cosmic ecology that extends beyond social and political realities. In Holistic education we must respond to the learner with an open, inquisitive mind, a loving heart and a sensitive understanding of the world he or she is growing into…..” (Holistic Education, 2011).too long a qoute, break down into own words please

While However, the Reggio Emilia approach to holistic education involves dealing with or rating the ‘whole’ of something or someone, and not just a part of the ‘whole’ (J ?, 2013). This approach also places great emphasis on artistic self-expression and engaged creativity. Miller (2006) suggests that while there is clearly no one method, after reviewing a number of different holistic teaching methodologies, he concluded that there are four key aspects of the holistic approach to teaching:

Learning is organic, emergent, experimental and based on cooperation.

There is a strong sense of community and engagement between children, parents and educators where those members feel strongly to care for one another

There is a great respect for children’s inner life, with methods ranging from environmental spaces that facilitate time out of competitive nosier environments, to time to ask deeper questions about the meaning of life and spirituality.

There are strong connections to nature, with the care and connection with the environment incorporated throughout the curriculum (Higgins, 2012)

In keeping with a holistic approach, the Priamary Years Progra (PYP) curriculum is an inquiry-based transdisciplinary curriculum. Pre-planned teaching is facilitated only in so far as it initiates open-ended questioning and inquisitiveness. Children are given maximum opportunities for discovery. A child’s questions are an important part of what happens in a PYP classroom.

The school aims to develop the whole child, so while developing academic knowledge and skills, we also develop a child’s social and emotional skills and understanding. Children are taught to be caring individuals and encouraged to make a positive difference in the world. The IB Learner Profile Attributes guides schools in their holistic approach to education and includes the social and emotional aspects of a child’s school life.

The PYP teaches students that they can make a difference in their lives by being independent and making “good choices,” for example by turning lights off to save energy when leaving the classroom, or recycling materials to avoid unnecessary waste. Physical education too is an integral part of the PYP curriculum and provides vital opportunities for the physical, social, emotional and intellectual development of the child. In Nutbrown’s (2012 pg ? ) review she asserts that, “high quality early education and childcare can have a positive long term impact on a child’s later learning and achievements.” Connecting with nature is important for a child’s spiritual development and should inform daily activity. Incorporating holistic activity into the early childhood classroom provides opportunities for children to connect with nature. Activities such as painting classes in a park or other open-air neighbourhood location expose children to nature, while painting on mirrors helps develop self-awareness and spirituality by encouraging creativity and the representation of ideas while having fun. These are all straightforward, uncomplicated, activities that encourage a child to be inquiring.

Refs needed

The extreme heat and humidity at certain times of the year in Hong Kong make it impractical to take children outside to explore and discover. When this happens, we do our best to bring the outside into the classroom. We use natural materials such as shells and leaaves to inspire and encourage creativity. We also provide tools more normally associated with adult usage, such as cameras, this to illustrate the point that children are competent and capable learners and able quickly to master relatively sophisticated technology.

As our knowledge of each child increases and we become more familiar with his or her interests, we use this and festivals such as Diwali, Christmas and Thanksgiving to inform our planning.

Learning Outcome 3 – This learning outcome requires you to show sound evidence of practical knowledge and understanding of theoretical and practical models of play and learning which incorporate examples of the different types, roles and functions of play in the widening children’s workforce setting. To improve you would need to demonstrate clear, concise, in depth evidence & knowledge/understanding, of the application of practical and theoretical models of play and learning. Incorporating a range of examples of the different types, roles and functions of play.

Smidt (2011) argues that Play may be defined as the way children, within a context, a culture, a family or a community explore or experience something that excites and interests them and is fun. Through play, children learn to express or communicate their feelings (Smidt,2011.) Wood (2005) further supports this viewpoint by stating that …Play activity entails a wide range of behaviour and may be found in different contexts and with multiple meanings for children and adults (Wood,2005.) A holistic, place-based, approach to learning utilises the local community and environment to teach subjects across the curriculum, emphasising hands-on real life experiences.

Ref here Blah Blah (2010) discusses how Various educational theorists have influenced the way young children are educated today. Among the most influential have been Rudolf Steiner and Maria Montessori ref. Both shared a belief in the importance of learning through their play. They believed that experimental learning through play was more effective teaching methods than ones that were directed and prescriptive ref. The Reggio Emilia approach, developed by Loris Malaguzzi,ref here emphasised the role of the child as a competent agent in his or her own learning. Within this setting, educators make informed choices about the pedagogical approaches and curriculum based on the theories and principles of Malaguzzi. There must be a reference or more within every paragraph to show where the info came from, it’s particularly important when discussing theory or viewpoints.

Bruce (date) as cited in Smidt (date) clearly regards play as one of the most significant ways children learn. She refers to play as ‘an integrating mechanism.’ When children are involved in self-chosen play, over which they have control of what they are doing, they are able to bring together many aspects of their learning, coordinating their activity in a way that brings about or creates new learning (Bruce, 1991 page ?), enabling discovery and problem solving as the child becomes increasingly independent.

There are play opportunities both inside the PYP (Primary Years Program) classroom and in the playground as the learning environment is equipped with material that provides for a range of creative learning. A PYP classroom reflects what Moyles (date) regards as one of the most significant aspects of play – that of ‘ownership,’ meaning that the child takes control over finding answers to questions that interest him or her.

Wood 2005) recognizes that Play cannot always be easily defined or categorised because it is always context dependent and the contexts are varied (Wood,2005). Types of play cognitive play, involved play, passive play, pretend and socio-dramatic. She discusses this viewpoint further by stating The context of play will determine its nature and category, play is therefore ‘context-dependent (Wood, 2005). However, as the context varies, so will the nature of play in which the child engages: cognitive play, involved play, passive play, pretend play and Socio-dramatic play being the most important types.

The physical development young children is also essential. Research has shown that physical activity in young children can enhance concentration, motivation, learning and well-being. Early Years educators use their knowledge of developmentally appropriate practice and the interests of the child to organise activities that provide opportunities for freedom of movement and physical stimulation.

Refs needed throughout this paragraph Piaget, another theorist, (date, cited in?) believed that play and imitation were an important feature of his theory. He saw play as almost pure assimilation without any attempt to adapt to outer reality (Wood, 2005). While Erikson ref thought the world of play was very important in the early stage of a child’s development, providing, as it did, a safe place for a child to work through conflicts in its life. Piaget, Erikson and Vygotsky ref all agreed that children use play as a way of teaching themselves. A child plays through situations very much as adults might think through a problem or difficult circumstances in which they find themselves. Children, of course, can more readily and naturally engage in fantasy play, when they delve into symbolic representations of objects and ideas by acting them out as part of a game or other form of play.ref Try to widen references from Wood, and use more than one ref in a paragraph. If you use the same source within a paragraph, you can use the term (ibid) which means ‘the same’ in Latin. You can only use it with the paragraph that you’ve cited the author e.g. Wood (2005) ……… blah blah blah (ibid) Its important you are using wider reading within and throughout the work.

There should also be a conclusion, which shows awareness of good practice and professional development through the implementation of this module. Throughout the essay, you must show the ability to integrate a range of information, drawn from a wide and varied area of sources (LO 4)

Learning Outcome 4 – You will need to draw upon a range of contemporary source materials to inform your individual research into the impact of current/pending government initiatives & legislative factors on early years settings and the resultant age-related curricula delivered. Educational & researched-based journal articles afford the best opportunity of achieving this. Use of tertiary sources and of web-based material is permitted but is unlikely to attract significant additional marks. Sourcing and researching other related material may also earn additional marks

Holistic approaches encompass, as the names suggests, a broad range of teaching goals and aspirations for children’s learning that extends well beyond academic learning into fields of social and emotional wellbeing. While this can at first seem overwhelming, teachers can find the small opportunities in their day to day practice to incorporate and extend ideas that promote connection, community and wellbeing.


Druce, J. (2013) Holistic education , MOD001262 Holistic Approaches to Development . [Print] Anglia Ruskin University , Unpublished

2012, Department for Education. (Foundations for Quality Nutbrown Review) [pdf] UK: Department for Education. Available at http://www.gov.uk [Accessed 06 December 2013].

Dame Clare Tickell (2011) The Early Years: Foundation for life, health and learning . London: Crown .

Druce, J. (2013) Holism (Noun), Holistic Approach to Development . [Print] Anglia Ruskin University, Unpublished

Holistic Education (2011) Glossary of Terms Commonly Used in Holistic Education [Online] Available at http://www.hent.org/glossary.htm [Accessed 15 December 2013]

Natalie Higgins (2012) Exploring Holistic Approaches for Early Childhood Educators [Online] Available at http://www.raisinglearning.com.au [Accessed 12 December 2013]

Ron Miller (2012) Holistic Education: A Brief Introduction [Online] Available at http://www.Pathsoflearning.net [Accessed 12 December 2013]

Smidt, S (2011) Playing to Learn. UK: Routledge.

Wood, E (2005) Play, Learning and the Early Childhood Curriculum . 2nd ed. London : Sage Publications .

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