Universal Truths: Holistic Views of the Child

As many of you know, I (Sarah) have just returned from a 10-day study trip to Israel with Jewish Early Childhood Education Leadership Institute (JECELI). On this trip we had the opportunity to visit early childhood centers in Israel, connect with the land and people of Israel, put some of our learning and rituals into historical and biblical frameworks, and discuss how we can bring Israel back to our classrooms in a meaningful way for our children.

While it will be some time before I have fully processed all of our experiences and learning, I had one repeated insight: In every school we visited, whether in a small town, on a kibbutz, in an Arab-Israeli city, in Jerusalem, or at a teacher training college, educators used the same words to describe their image of children: holistic. We heard aboutholistic approaches to learning; about whole-child development; about how children are holistic beings. Children never develop in just one domain at a time, but rather each domain (cognitive, social-emotional, language, creative, physical, spiritual) develops in relationship, and concurrently, with the others. This universal truth was self-evident in the mind of every educator we met, and it was uplifting to hear how early childhood educators around the world , across cultural and political divides, could agree on this most important point.