What does it mean to "Serve the Whole Child"?
One of the more popular education ideas during the last 10 years is the conviction that charter or magnet schools do a much better job of serving kids than other private and public ed options. In a country where mainstream educational choices have received so much negative press for so long, I suppose it’s natural for people to grab hold of the idea that there must be something better out there for their kids.
There are multiple reasons for this line of thinking: Charter and magnet schools often emphasize one specific area. People see these schools focusing on communication, science and technology, leadership, international affairs, performing arts, and many other disciplines. Additionally, charter and magnet schools often use an eye-catching name for their programs, capturing the imaginations of parents looking for something more: The Imagine International School of North Texas; The Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy; The Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts; and The Renaissance School of the Arts and Sciences are a few examples. Additionally, charter and magnet schools often gain the interest of families with options: families that have the ability to transport their children outside of a neighborhood school’s census area, and financially support special programs and the costs they require. This demographic often shows up in standardized testing data. Students from strong, stable homes will almost always score higher on tests than those kids whose home lives present challenges.
But once parents get used to the idea of an eye-catching title, a different demographic, and an often radically different feel inside school walls, they should still ask, “How is this school serving my child?”
The term “serving” may leave some parents a little unclear. Like the rest of us, kids are made up of more than one intelligence domain. They have minds, bodies, talents, intuitions, and, most importantly, spirituality. Serving students’ minds and bodies are the easy part. P.E. and “kinesthetic learning” happen in almost every school. And whether it’s through problem solving, discovery, direct instruction, cooperative learning, or something else, students engage intellectually with material in every classroom. But because children are so much more than brains and bodies, we should also be asking about what happens with our children’s spirituality when they go to school.
This is the beauty of a Christ-centered school environment. Spiritual, intellectual, political, artistic, and social leaders for the last 2,000 years have used Jesus as a model for how people should serve and be served. They have also used Jesus to paint a picture of what a person can become if all of their learning domains are served. Children are more than simply an athletic, intellectual, or artistic being. They are also a child of their creator.
So when we ask if a school is serving—or should serve—the whole child, there is only one context where that actually happens each day: inside a school that bases all it does on the example of Christ.
Consider whether you want your child served completely through his or her school experience. If the answer is yes, we’d love to have a conversation with you about how much your child can become.