The Importance of Educating the Whole Child

By Nicky Russell | Head of Primary
Kinabalu International School

We live in a global economy that requires our students to be prepared to think both critically and creatively, evaluate huge amounts of information, solve complex problems, and communicate effectively. A strong foundation in reading, writing, mathematics, and other core subjects is still as important as ever, yet by itself is insufficient for lifelong success.

For too long, we have been committed to time structures, coursework, instructional methods and assessments designed more than a century ago. Our current definition of student success is too narrow. At Kinabalu International School, we put students first, align resources to students’ multiple needs, and advocate for a more balanced approach to education.

What works best for children? What must we all—educators, families, and community members—do to ensure their success? Answering those questions pushes us to redefine what a successful learner is and how we measure success. A student who enters school happily and feels safe is ready to learn, while a student who feels connected to their learning environment is more likely to thrive in school

All students who have access to challenging and engaging academic programmes are better prepared for continuing their educational journey as long as possible. These components must work together, not in isolation.

The demands of the 21st century require a new approach to education— a whole child approach to learning, teaching, and community engagement. Measuring academic achievement is important and necessary; no one is arguing otherwise. But if we fail to move beyond a narrow curriculum and accountability system, we will have failed to adequately prepare our children for their futures.

The broad and balanced curriculum offered at Kinabalu International School inspires students to learn. The range of subjects helps students acquire knowledge, understanding and skills in all aspects of their education, including the humanities and linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technical, social, physical and artistic domains. We ensure that, as well as educating your child in these academic subjects, we are also looking after your child’s emotional and social education.

According to numerous studies, feeling safe at school translates into higher academic achievement, increased student well-being, and greater engagement. Children who don’t feel safe have difficulty concentrating on their studies, don’t connect with their classmates, or don’t go to school at all. It is imperative that a child happily travels through their educational journey, being safe in the knowledge that they will come to no harm while under the care of their teachers and the school staff.

To learn at their best, students must be engaged and motivated. Substantial research shows that students who feel both valued by adults and a part of their school perform better academically and also have more positive social attitudes, values, and behaviours. After-school programmes can promote academic achievement, but their success requires targeted investment, stakeholder commitment, focused academic support, quality programming, and a process of continual improvement. At Kinabalu International School an enhanced Extra Curricular Programme helps support this. Children need to be given the opportunity to further their skills in sport, the arts, debating, adventurous activities or more academic areas outside of the mainstream.

In addition to improving students’ academic performance, research shows that supportive schools also help prevent a host of negative consequences, including isolation and feelings of unhappiness. Central to a supportive school are teachers, administrators, and other caring adults who take a personal interest in the welfare of each student. At Kinabalu International School, each child is treated as an individual and has a learning programme which caters to their strengths, needs, aspirations and goals. We are a school that prides ourselves on our family atmosphere.

To succeed in their secondary and tertiary education, and the workplace, students need higher-level thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills, as well as knowledge of the world and its people. These are all products of a curriculum that challenges students to work hard as they investigate a wide range of real-world subjects. What’s more, secondary school graduates who pursue college and university places must be adequately prepared.

To conclude, in order for a student to achieve their full potential at school, every child needs to:

• Learn in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for them.

• Be actively engaged in learning and be connected to the school they belong to and its broader community.

• Have access to a personalised learning journey and be supported by qualified, caring adults.

• Be challenged academically and prepared for success in their further studies, and for employment and participation in a global environment.

If you would like to find out more about our school, please contact our Admissions Officer, Tina Koroh, to arrange a tour and explore the opportunities available for your child or contact me, Nicky Russell, Head of Primary, at [email protected]

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