Whole Child and Meaningful Student Involvement

The whole child approach is a distinct strategy for education today. Built on professional collaboration among students, between students and adults, and among educators, administrators and others, the whole child approach partners people from different perspectives in order to affect the entire student, rather than piece by piece. Schools that seek to meet the basic student needs of safety, belonging, autonomy and competence are more likely to foster authentic student engagement.

The Whole Child tenets are:

  • Each student enters school healthy and learns about and practices a healthy lifestyle.
  • Each student learns in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for students and adults.
  • Each student is actively engaged in learning and is connected to the school and broader community.
  • Each student has access to personalized learning and is supported by qualified, caring adults.
  • Each student is challenged academically and prepared for success in college or further study and for employment and participation in a global environment.


Infusing Meaningful Student Involvement into this approach encourages adults in schools to align school goals and values through student/adult partnerships that develop social skills and understanding for everyone involved. Students and adults consequently contribute to the school and community and achieve goals together, including culturally, socially and academically. Schools and communities must work together to ensure that student needs are met on all levels, including fundamental levels of health, safety, and belonging. (Dalton, Churchman, & Tasco, 2008)

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