What is Holistic Development?


Every parent these days is worried about their child's holistic development, but what does it actually mean. Parents often tend to misunderstand the term holistic development, assuming it to be focused on academic and social skills. However, there is much more to it. Holistic development is a practical approach to build an inclusive learning environment, including the physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and moral development of a child. This type of development not only focuses on mere learning but also on implementing what has been learned.

Let us see in detail what each of these aspects mean:


Appropriate exercise and movement of any form increases the flow of blood in a child's body. Blood flow is very crucial to the development of the child's brain and helps them to acquire new information and concepts easily. These physical activities also help the child to become more aware of the senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste, enabling them to better understand their implications to use these senses.


Cognitive development relates to the intelligence of a child. While very few are born genius, most children require adequate upbringing to develop rational thinking and decision-making ability. Research estimates that an average brain develops up to 90% potential by the age of 5. Young minds are known to be creators of knowledge, are more inquisitive, and have high knowledge retention power; hence parents should always encourage their children to experiment their thoughts and learn.


Social development of a child refers to the way he/she behaves in the presence of friends, relatives, and even strangers. Social skills are an implication of the child's ability to work in teams, collaborate, understand other's views, communicate, among others. Encouraging children to go out and play is one of the most effective ways to build their social skills. Imagine a child who was never allowed to go out until 8 years old, for them to have a simple conversation with others could seem to be a dreadful task.


Emotional development is the ability of a child to recognize, express, and manage feelings. One most common nature observed in children is the inability to express the right emotion because they don't' understand it. For e.g., anger is prevalent emotion children struggle to deal with. Developing emotional ability is one of the most challenging parts of holistic development; however, with adequate measures like in-depth talks, exemplification, and appreciation, it could be achieved. A strong and emotionally stable child tends to be more structured in his/her thought process. On the contrary, children with a lack of emotional ability tend to indulge in self-doubt and develop anxieties.


Often, we tell our kids not to do something because it's wrong! Well, moral development in kids starts at this point. However, the ultimate goal of moral development is to enable a child to himself/herself understand what is right and wrong. To develop this ability, parents should encourage kids to share and discuss their ideas so as to guide them in the correct direction.

In conclusion, as a child grows, parents should equally recognize and value each of these aspects of holistic development to maximize the potential of their child. So next time your child recognizes a particular smell, or controls their anger, give them the same appreciation as you did when they won the school debate.