Why the Holistic Approach is the Way of the Future

What are the challenges in every child’s life and how it relates to society? What are the challenges of the future? The increasingly prevalent trend of boredom, attention deficit, not being able to communicate and combating it. We find out what shapes the thought-leaders and change-makers of tomorrow while transforming our lives. Thus, we dive into ourselves as equals to the children of today where the approach to transformation remains the same — deeper self-realization.

Quote

Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Kahlil Gibran (On Children)

Author

Shanti Iyer

Shanti Iyer is an educator with 15 years of experience in teaching English and Public Speaking. Switch from advertising to training kids to speak effectively, using developmental drama, has guided her to make learning a joyful and unique endeavour. It’s her dream to see every child speak from a space of confidence and accomplishment and tunes her teaching methodology to bring every child closer to this space.

More Like this

References

Smith, K., Holistic Parenting: Nurturing Mind, Body, and Spirit, Parenting.com Johnson, M., The Benefits of Holistic Summer Camps for Children, HealthyChild.com Brown, A., Rethinking Children’s Value Systems: A Holistic Approach, ChildDevelopment.org Green, L., Overcoming Outdated Schooling: Embracing Holistic Education, EducationToday.com

Further Reading

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck, Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Confident, and More Successful by Peter Gray, The Innovator’s Mindset by George Coureis, Zen Habits: zenhabits.net

Categories

A Parent’s Guide Back to Childhood.

The future of our children’s learning begins by learning how to navigate life is in this moment. The children of today experience a major disconnection and cognitive dissonance when it comes to their learning and education.  

We can hardly explain to a child why their learning is important to them. The practicals and impracticality of life are something they are still navigating. Yet, we must, through as much peace and honesty, imbibe certain key values in our children. Paradoxically enough, this is done through a more hands off parenting, by providing spaces for growth and learning, and giving them a platform to express and be independent. These are spaces of trust and communication. 

Within the scope of education, we have been learning to climb a mountain when the destination was the sea. We can scale mountains, but it becomes impractical when we don’t understand the depths of the sea. Children understand techniques and are adept and skillful in today’s age. They are smart, clever, intelligent, and quick witted. Education equips us in our specific fields of study. But education systems rely heavily on the environment of schooling to imbibe humanitarian values, or social skills. Children must adapt in school and depend on the social system of the institution to get a feel for the ‘real-world’. Here, the values of the school play a key role.  

Throughout history, people with a poor education performance have gone on to shake the grounds of the world as we know it. Much of learning occurs throughout life, we learn on the job, by meeting people, and through hardships and failures. However, most schools also wound the self-esteem of budding humans, making them believe in the arduousness of life, and the comfort and safety of a modern mindset. Schools are a direct result of the mainstream narrative which pushes this kind of modernity. A lack of examination of one’s value systems leads to having no skills in how to live life. We know “how to do stuff” but we do not know how to live well. Our duties are always complete, and we chase deadlines for our work or school projects, but the self-work is always incomplete. This is reflected in the daily routines of children. We are scared to be bored, scared to explore outside the confines of our environment, because we don’t know how we can handle the emotional brunt of failures. We do not know how to handle ourselves. 

For over 100 years, the education systems have remained the same, largely. Examine the world we currently live in; we aspire to overcome an endless series of obstacles for rewards that seem to lose their glitter once achieved. We are obsessed with the result, where the pursuit is far more desirable than the outcome itself. If we make a big achievement, we want to do it all over again. This is the endless cycle of improvement in modernity. 

In this way, we become obsessed with controlling change. As parents, we try to change our children to ‘do more’, to fit a notion of adeptness that misses the central self-work. This wounds the self-esteem in the budding ego of the child. When they begin to navigate the world through this wound, they begin to seek fulfilment of the needs that heal this wound. For them, their activities have shifted from the foundation of curiosity to proving worthiness. They reach for quick gratification, and become more accustomed to constant distractions, and avoid identifying and confronting themselves safely. Discipline is a faraway concept, and unless a child can build faith and trust in their abilities, their desire for exploration will only diminish. 

We rely on our children to shape our future, yet we do not share our future with them. We do not equip them to be value-driven, independent and self-realized. We live in a world where education is seeing-wanting-imitating-presenting. Not being. 

The world promises us success, happiness, accomplishment, joy, togetherness, teamwork, gratitude, personality, creativity, productivity, authenticity, confidence, intelligence, if we participate in its ordeals, but these exist within us. They are qualities to nurture and cultivate, not seek and imitate. We are cut off from three important tools we need for the retrieval of all those amazing qualities – the tools being: self-awareness, discipline of thought and timeless learning through action. 

Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is when we always see ourselves in completeness. What we say, how we react, what we see, what we do, what we think, what feelings emerge and when, what tickles us, what bores us, who and what we like, and what we don’t. In this process, we see that in fact “I am not a statue made of rock, bronze or gold, but a transient river who seems to be growing further and stronger moment to moment.” 

This is important to learning because learning is what waters this growth. With self-awareness I choose how to be at peace, I choose to retain what is needed for my growth, which sparks my unique source of intelligence, creativity, productivity, etc. all at once.  

Many activities can help children develop self-awareness, but the “Feelings Faces” game offers a surprisingly powerful foundation. While it appears simple on the surface, it sets the stage for a crucial skill: emotional awareness and expression. This activity can also help bridge a path to sharing big and difficult emotions between adults and children. 

This game goes beyond just matching faces to emotions. Young children often struggle to connect what’s happening in their bodies with how they’re feeling. By acting out scenarios and linking them to facial expressions, you’re helping them build this important bridge. For instance, scrunching up your face and saying “I feel frustrated” teaches them to recognize the tightness in their face as a sign of frustration. This connection between physical sensations and emotions is a crucial step towards self-awareness. 

The Feelings Faces game also expands a child’s emotional vocabulary. Many children have a limited range of words to describe their feelings beyond “happy” and “sad.” This game introduces them to a wider range of emotions like anger, fear, and surprise. With a broader vocabulary, they can express themselves more accurately and navigate their complex emotional landscape more effectively. 

Discipline of Thought

Anxiety, hyper-tension, analysis-paralysis, etc. are terms created by a system of operating that gave it to us in the first place. To understand discipline in a new context for children of today, let’s examine what it means to us now.  

I’ll paint you a picture: Your boss asks you to work on a presentation due a week from now. A ‘week from now’ instantly makes you push this job right to the back of your head because it’s Friday and it’s going to be a cozy weekend with friends. You randomly mention this presentation a few times over the weekend while you have a nice time but it’s not a big deal yet. Monday arrives. Week priorities just suddenly seem to be too much, everybody is demanding too much of you, everything that can go wrong is going wrong and the presentation is breathing down your neck. You watch a few productivity videos, make a few check lists. And when the boss casually asks where you are on that presentation, panic hits. “Everyone knows I have slacked; they are judging me.” In that strong intensity of fear, self-loathing, and guilt, you muster up discipline and get the presentation done. 

Why was this process needed to bring that discipline? Because we have been trained to be disciplined only under fear and guilt. So, we do it to ourselves to get our own work done. This is a kind of learning adults have experienced as children. Adults today may view discipline as an obligation, so how can they imbibe the value of responsibility in the next generations?  

However, discipline of thought is quite simple if the right tools are provided to set the stage which makes everything a joyful process not one of dread and distress. By employing tools such as delaying gratification, accepting responsibility, dedication to truth, and balancing, individuals can cultivate a mindset that embraces challenges and growth. Delaying gratification involves resisting immediate impulses for long-term benefits, while accepting responsibility entails acknowledging one’s role in situations. Dedication to truth emphasizes the importance of seeking truth over comfort, fostering openness to challenges and self-examination. Balancing provides flexibility, enabling individuals to navigate complexities effectively and express emotions appropriately. By integrating these tools into one’s thinking process, discipline becomes a constructive and empowering journey towards personal and intellectual growth. 

The concept of play in all our activities can be used to deal with the mundaneness of life with an evolved attitude, one that keeps one’s best interest at heart. Play isn’t just about fun and games, and it certainly does not apply to children alone. It’s a powerful tool for promoting learning through action. Introducing play as the key approach to discipline can help widen the scope of a child’s activities. It can shift attitudes towards work and tasks into a responsibility, rather than an obligation.

Learning Through Action

Every moment must contain purposeful action to move to the next or it evades us. Learning through action is about actively engaging in each moment with purpose to progress and grow continuously. By focusing on tasks and learning experiences, individuals not only gain knowledge and skills but also internalize valuable lessons for future success. Let me put this in context. 

When I am learning how to write, I must be in action for every dot that I create while writing the letter A. If I trail off, missing a few dots in between, it may vaguely look like an A, but not the A that I can create. But, when I create something to my maximum capability, magic happens. Success, accomplishment, creativity, productivity yada yada yada is my pot of gold in every single moment and not something I need to chase after all. 

The concept of deliberate practice emphasizes focused, repetitive action to master a skill.  Each attempt, each repetition, is a step towards mastery, regardless of the immediate outcome. The key takeaway is focusing on dedicated action (karma), not the outcome (phala). When you write that “A,” your mind is on forming it perfectly, not on getting a gold star. The Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2, Verse 47 translates to: 

“You have the right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself the cause of the results, and never be attached to not doing your duty.” 

So, how can we translate this philosophy into our daily lives? 

  • Break down big goals into small, achievable steps. Make each step require purposeful action. 
  • Focus on the journey, not the destination. Celebrate your commitment to each action and enjoy the act of learning itself. 
  • Embrace challenges as opportunities to learn. Setbacks are simply chances to refine your approach. 
  • Practice regularly. Consistent, focused action is the key to unlocking your full potential. 

Play is the Ultimate Teacher

Learning is a lifelong process, and while learning happens constantly, we can never be ‘taught’ in the typical sense of the word. When a child’s curiosity strikes, it creates a spark, igniting a flame of learning. The creativity with which you approach the process of imbibing a routine will determine the success. Provide systems for children to continue to associate positively with the surroundings, even when they face challenges, especially during those long summers. There’s a growing movement of parents and educators who view nature as the ultimate learning environment. Instagram accounts like TinkerLab (@tinkerlab) showcase how everyday outings in the park or forest can be transformed into exciting adventures.  From collecting leaves to build a nature collage to building forts out of sticks, children learn about the natural world through hands-on exploration. Studies (like one by Dr. Stuart Brown) highlight the importance of unstructured, messy play for children’s development. Take, for example, the toddler who gets completely covered in mud while building a sandcastle.  They’re not just getting dirty; they’re learning about cause and effect, texture, and the world around them through sensory exploration. Parents who embrace messy play are fostering a love of learning that extends far beyond textbooks.  

Gangadhar Krishnan is an ex-corporate full-time traveler and father of twin girls, along with his wife, Ramya. They decided to turn their lives around for their children. In 2019, they took their children for a 90-day road schooling trip. Through Ramya and Gangadhar’s unique guidance the children adapt to different cultures, environments and activities. It was the twin’s decision to be homeschooled by travelling. The parents noticed that their children were exploring and learning all on their own through observation. They dropped the formal ways of teaching which look like indoctrinating. Instead, they began to observe their children as their children explored the world. To them, a week of camping is equal to six months in a school. To all the parents they guide, the first step is to unlock the magic that exists within. What are their unique capabilities, their interests, and how can they use what they have to enhance their experience of life rather than indoctrinate them with a preset notion of life. 

Imagine this, it’s a hot Saturday afternoon, and your child is bouncing off the walls with pent-up energy. Instead of resorting to screens, why not transform your kitchen into a mini-science lab? With a little creativity, you can turn everyday ingredients into exciting experiments. The possibilities are endless! For example, even the act of following a recipe teaches valuable skills like measurement and following instructions. By turning everyday tasks into science experiments, you’re fostering a love of learning that goes way beyond textbooks.   

Imaginative play doesn’t have to be a solitary activity. When parents, siblings or friends are involved it turns into a collaborative play session! Working together to build a shared creation encourages teamwork, communication, and negotiation skills. Learning through play becomes a social experience, fostering important life skills alongside a love of imagination.

Gamifying Chores – a How-to!

It’s important to start young. Children are naturally curious and eager to learn. Introducing gamified chores early on helps establish positive habits around responsibility. They learn that contributing to the household is a fun and rewarding experience. They learn to view setbacks not as failures, but as opportunities to improve their skills and “level up” in their chore mastery. Children learn to manage their tasks, track their progress, and take pride in their accomplishments.  

Chores can feel like a burden for children, but with a sprinkle of imagination, you can transform them into exciting adventures. Here are some ways to introduce play (including gamification) to make responsibility more enjoyable (and maybe even rewarding!) experience:  

The Chore Chart Challenge: Ditch the static chore chart and create a dynamic one. Use a game board format where completing chores earns them points that move their token across the board. Landing on special squares could offer bonus points or even a break from chores! This gamifies the experience, adding a layer of competition and excitement.  

The “Beat the Clock” Race: Turn cleaning into a race against time. Set a timer and challenge your child to complete a task (like cleaning their room) before the timer runs out. Beating the clock earns them bragging rights or a small reward like choosing their favorite dinner. This injects a sense of urgency and accomplishment that can make cleaning feel less like a chore.  

Earning “Skill Stars” for Effort: Instead of focusing solely on the completion of chores, reward the effort put in. Create a star chart with different categories like “speed,” “thoroughness,” or “positive attitude.” Earn stars for good effort in these areas, culminating in a bigger reward when the chart is filled. This approach encourages children to develop valuable life skills while completing their tasks.  

Themed Cleaning Adventures: Imagine your child is a brave knight tasked with cleaning their room, battling dust bunnies and conquering clutter.  Or perhaps they’re a superhero who needs to tidy their space before saving the day!  These playful themes add a narrative to the chore, making it more engaging and less mundane.  

The “Choice Board” of Responsibilities: Empower your child by giving them some control over their chores.  Create a board with different age-appropriate tasks.  Let them choose a few tasks they’d prefer to complete each day/week.  This fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility, making them more invested in completing their chosen chores.

Conclusion

At Rang Tarang, we believe in unlocking the “pot of gold” within each child – a wellspring of creativity, accomplishment, and self-assuredness. We don’t just teach; we ignite a love of learning through play, exploration, and purposeful action.  Here, your child will discover the joy of self-awareness, the power of discipline, and the transformative magic of learning by doing. 

This isn’t just about preparing your child for the world; it’s about empowering them to shape it. Join us at Rang Tarang and let’s make learning different, let’s make it joyful. Together, we can raise a generation of confident, compassionate leaders ready to create the future we all deserve. The adventure awaits! 

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