Holistic Model for Early Education

There is a growing awareness that children's educations starts long before they enter the classroom. The brain is the most immature of all of the organs at birth, and continues to grow and develop as we age. Much of that brain development occurs before a child turns 5, and research shows that early education experiences can lay the foundation for future learning. Since the early years are so vital, many preschool programs are shifting toward a holistic model that helps children learn social and cognitive skills and form dispositions, such as confidence and a good base in literacy and numeracy.

In Singapore, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has backed a Nurturing Early Learners curriculum developed by educators with experience in early childhood education. The program works closely with preschool and primary school educators to establish a shared understanding about expectations in kindergarten. For kindergarten, kids at this stage need self-confidence, social skills and a foundation in literary. Constructing expectations is helpful so that preschools focus on nurturing children for the next level.

MOE is dedicated to helping children in their personal development, supporting pre-school centers with a suitable kindergarten curriculum. These proper resources can ease the transition to primary or elementary school.

Texas Shift
A comparable trend is happening in Dallas. Now, there are new programs that stress the importance of early education among those who live below the poverty line. As a community, they promote that outside, a child should be surround by similar holistic methods. The need for parent-child communication as a critical part of the education process, as parents are lifelong teachers. 

Effective parent engagement is not complicated. Often, the best way to teach a young child is through simple activities like playing with toys, reading, dancing, singing and talking. All kids learn by exploring their surroundings, as their brains form neuron connections based on their environment. Young children, for instance, learn primarily through play. Physical activity stimulates brain activity in all of us. 

A lot of kindergarten readiness is linked to vocabulary acquisition, meaning child must hear language from birth, and then learn and practice words in context. 

A forward-thinking development in Texas – which many other states can learn from – is the recently passed HB 376, a law requiring a portion of child care subsidy funding in Texas to be allocated toward improving quality of child care providers. Raising the bar among early childhood programs translate to better options for parents, and enhanced opportunities for youngsters.

Ilchi Lee, the president of the International Brain Education Association, agrees that programs should utilize holistic methods for developing children's learning, as the brain is ripe for forming new connections and absorbing information at this age. It is this plasticity of the brain that enable kids to gather ideas, hone skills and start down the path of learning who they will become.

Merging the Holistic Approach with Education Technology

In the eyes of White House officials, education is an untapped market for technology advancements. Yet, in past years, since the federal government spends little to support basic research on education technology, the rate at which innovation has entered the classroom was few and far between. 

"We need a holistic approach," Susan Singer, director of the National Science Foundation division of undergraduate education, told Politico. 

Not only can the holistic approach connect students to their neighborhoods, but to the global community.

Kumar Garg, an assistant director for learning and innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, points out that the Education Department is working on a "developer's toolkit," a handbook to encourage more private-sector innovation. It allows entrepreneurs interested in creating technology specifically for the education market. 

Richard Culatta explained to the source that there's a lot of excitement around education technology.

"People want to come in and save the world … [but] they build apps that frankly don't help very much."

The toolkit will lay out what teachers and students use on a daily basis, how apps are integrated into classrooms and what research has shown about the most effective uses of technology. Apps allow students to engage in educational games or work through problems with direct access to tools like notepads, a calculator and the Internet. With an emphasis on privacy boundaries, the apps gather data to allow developers to tailor the software to best fit kids' needs. 

Yet, if you have any youngsters in high school, you might have heard that participation in the classroom has changed quite a bit since you were a kid. Many public schools have adopted tablets into daily activities. Such advancements provides a hands-on learning approach that enables each student to connect and find out what's happening in the world around them.

Garg's statements plugged President Barack Obama's announcement during the week of April 7 of $107 million in grants to teams of high schools, community colleges and nonprofits to revamp curriculums that haven't changed much in decades. Administered by the Departments of Labor and Education, the grant program is meant to incorporate hands-on career training as well as internships and mentoring with professionals in the communities. These programs seek to give students a leg up on the competitive market while building their resume for personal development before launching into the working world. 

Ilchi Lee, a New York Times best-selling author, agrees that the American education system could benefit from a more holistic approach. Since technology isn't going away any time soon, it'd be a wise idea to create a synergy between education technology and holistic curriculums. 

Ilchi Lee’s Brain Education System

Ilchi Lee, a New York Times best-selling author and the president of the International Brain Education Association, developed his own Brain Education System for the human mind. The brain, Lee points out, is something not only for scientists to discuss; rather, each individual should establish the authority to understand and manage his or her own brain. After all, to accomplish anything we set our minds to, we must first set our minds.

So, Lee introduced Brain Education to provide individuals with tangible tools to navigate their way down the path of their personal development. Creating the life you want as your greatest masterpiece is the ultimate use of the human brain. It is the birthplace of our behavior, gatekeeper of our memories and training facility to our happiness. To work on the mind-body connection, Brain Education helps us make choices that improve our circumstances. Here's are the five steps of Brain EducationLee's practices:

Step One: Brain Sensitizing
In the first step, practitioners use stretching, breath-training exercises and energetic movement to awaken their primary senses and hone self-awareness of between the brain-to-body connection. The act of doing something and consciously recognizing you're doing it is the key to the basics. Focusing on breathing also improves cardiovascular circulation. 

Step Two: Brain Versatilizing
You may work on touching your toes to improve your body's flexibility. Now it's time to enhance the flexibility of both body and mind. Through careful observation and self-discipline, you can slowly alter behavior to produce healthier, more productive habits. What's crucial in this step is the plasticity, or rewiring the brain's activity. 

Step Three: Brain Refreshing
At this stage, practitioners become acutely aware of the influence of stored emotions and preconception of the quality of their lives. Start to release the memories and ideas that are no longer useful. On a neuroscientic level, this is akin to pruning neurons that your brain does not use. Once you do this, you can face any situation with a clear, fresh mind. Emotional awareness and control not only dispels unproductive thoughts, it enables you to see that creating emotions can be a matter of choice. 

Step Four: Brain Integrating
Incorporate various functional areas of the brain to unleash latent capabilities. This enhances communication between the left and right hemispheres, as well as between the cerebral cortex and subcortical structures. 

Step Five: Brain Mastering
Like everything in life, practice makes perfect. Apply and re-apply the first four steps of Brain Education toward specific, concrete goals. This results in well-grounded foundation for personal development. At the end of the day, the goal is to improve quality of life for you and those around you. In this way, practitioners become the conscious authors of their lives.

Teaching a Holistic Education for the Real World

Some business analysts say that about 60 percent of the jobs 10 years from now have not been invented. With this in mind, many teaching experts believe education should move in a holistic direction, which creates a more well-rounded, community-based foundation that will help kids succeed in whichever path they choose. Currently, the Western style of education – exemplified by the focus on standardized test scores like American College Test and Scholastic Assessment Test - breeds the type of learning that goes in one ear and out the other. Instead, holistic approaches are based on the premise that each person establishes community connections and humanitarian values that last well into the working world.

Shirley Franklin, the former two-term mayor of Atlanta and current faculty member of University of Texas, agrees. In a recent interview with the National Journal, Franklin emphasized her support of neighborhood programs that strengthen networks within the community. She discussed Purpose Built Communities, a not-for-profit consulting firm that improves local communities through social services and education.

"It is a model that has been supported by local foundations and individuals, and it continues to prove that if you have a holistic approach, if you focus on the education pipeline, you can intentionally build communities that can be sustained as middle income," Franklin told the National Journal.

People want to address social mobility, and everyone would like to step up the social ladder, Franklin said. She believes the rounded education of holism is a way to get there.

Georgia to Gloucestershire
Another program that has thrived under holism can be found in Gloucestershire, England. The Isbourne Holistic Centre, a charity and leading U.K. pioneer for well-being and spiritual development, recently opened a new school in Cheltenham. Isbourne College is perfect for those who want to live with their body, mind and spirit in harmony, and those who are professionals in the field of holistic living and healing. 

"The field is so vast that this course allows people to find out what's best for them and then they can decide where to take it after that, whether to go into healing or not," Director Julia Ingram told Gloucestershire ECHO News.

Franklin and Ingram are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to support for holistic education. Ilchi Lee, an innovative leader in the human brain potential development, believes there is a vast need to combine eastern and western education methodologies. The spiritual mind-body values of the east and efficiency and pragmatism of the west are the perfect factors to nurture the potential of every child. 

Learning to Ease Your Mind

As Ilchi Lee will tell you, learning how to steer your mind's thoughts is an incredibly powerful skill for personal development. It can keep you focused when you need it most, allowing you to break through the distractions of the outside world and the noise of your inner monologue. 

There's no doubt that brain chatter is a natural part of the meditation release process – even the most experienced meditators get distracted. But the key is to refocus quickly. Meditation helps train your brain's muscles to stay focused on useful thoughts while kicking tangents by the wayside.

"What we want to avoid is concentration that's too 'loose', and soon unravels into full-blown distraction, or concentration that's so 'tight' that we tense up and give ourselves a headache," David Michie, author of meditation, tells Courier​-Mail. 

It sounds tricky, but it's plenty possible with the right steps. 

Away with Distractions
The first way to ease your mind is to eliminate distractions. This has a lot to do with your environment. If you're in the living room with your kids shouting upstairs, it's going to be difficult to enter a productive brainspace. Find a place that's quiet and clear of distracting people, pets and technology. Yes, that means away with cell phones!

Take Your Time
Don't pressure yourself to slip into the zone within seconds. For most people, that's simply not realistic. Allow yourself plenty of time get into meditation mode, and make sure that your posture is correct. Meditation won't work if you're in a hurry.

Practice Mindful Breathing
Slowing things down by taking a deep breath is one of the oldest methods of relaxation. When you feel anxious, strained or stressed, try this mindful breathing exercise: Breathing in, silently repeat to yourself: "I'm fully aware of my in-breath." Then, breathing out, silently repeat to yourself: "I'm fully aware of my out-breath." Do in- and out-breaths five times. In moments you will feel more in control and a heightened stability.

Refocus
It's within our nature for our thoughts to wander. But once you notice they've run away, reel them back in. Resist the temptation to follow the thought or criticize yourself for having it in the first place. Acknowledge it and continue.

With our busy daily lives, it can seem like our heads are spinning. But utilizing these steps, we can work toward a more enlightened, productive sense of brain education.

Overcoming ADD/ADHD Naturally

If you find yourself struggling to focus, difficulty organizing tasks and constantly acting on impulse instead of thinking through problems, you might be among the thousands of people living with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Certainly, diagnoses for these conditions are higher than ever, as experts learn more about them. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 3 to 5 percent of children have ADHD. Though many associate the condition with school-aged children, ADD/ADHD affects a fair share of adults too.

Ilchi Lee, an innovative leader in human brain potential development, overcame his ADD condition many years ago. He did this by realizing the profound interconnectedness in the brain of the determinants of our physical, mental and spiritual health. Learning how to identify the symptoms of ADD and the ways in which to steer your brain back on course is a crucial step to overcoming ADD naturally. 

There's no doubt that life can be a balancing act. But whether you work a 9-to-5 job or are still in school, Lee's effective methods help fight the nagging effects of the disorder. What may appear to some as a lack of will power is in fact a chemical imbalance in the brain.

Establishing brain-body connections helps a wide variety of people face problems one step at time. In a study from Johns Hopkins School of Education, one boy named Jeff showed telltale signs of ADD: inability to focus, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Jeff engaged in five to 10 minutes of brain gym activities every day. During each session, Jeff created his own goal and then did Brain Gym activities to help him achieve each goal. 

After the eight-week Brain Gym program was completed, Jeff had done a complete 180. 

"He is calmer and much more focused," Jeff's mother said in the John Hopkins report. "He does not get bored and frustrated like he used to. He's eager to participate in family activities, like hiking and bicycling. When we have workday, he does more than he needs to do."

Jeff is only one of the people who have benefited from brain-body activities. Learning to reach your full potential is possible without medication – and that goes for adults as well. If you were diagnosed with childhood ADD/ADHD, there's a good chance you've brought at least some of the symptoms into adulthood. On the flip side, even if you were never officially diagnosed with ADD/ADHD, that doesn't rule out the possibility of having it as an adult.

Lee has developed a Brain Education System Training, or BEST 5, that includes brain sensitizing, versatilizing, refreshing, integrating and mastering. In this brain-empowered growth approach, you can improve your brain functioning to help you stay on track. Ilchi Lee's methods help those with ADD/ADHD with their symptoms when combined with medical and lifestyle adjustments, such as spending more time in nature.

Google Science Fair 2014: One Judge Weighs in for Holistic Change

The Google Science Fair, a global online competition open to students from 13- to 18-years-old, is encouraging youth to change the world, one idea at a time. In its fourth year searching for the next generation of great scientists, Google continues to foster outside-the-box thinking to tackle real-life problems.

Thomas Culhane, a National Geographic explorer and one of the judges in the competition, recently weighed in on the forward-thinking contest. The urban planner-slash-teacher has worked with young students for the past four years of Google Science Fairs competitions. He points out that the project finalists are inspirational on several levels, developing fresh, innovate ideas from the ground up. Each student, Culhane notes, is dedicated to solving big-world problems and doesn't let education stop outside the classroom.

"I'm a big picture guy whose greatest joy as a member of the National Geographic Explorers Team has been taking the innovation challenge to work with explorers outside my field and see how we can put the puzzle together to make holistic improvements immeasurably better than what we can do alone," Culhane told National Geographic.

Certainly, reshaping how we view things is a team effort. Ilchi Lee, a dedicated advocate of a peaceful, sustainable world, wholeheartedly agrees with these sentiments. Lee reinforces the holistic education approach as a way to make connections not only to the community, but to the nation and across borders in the world as a whole. The author and mediation advocate adds that to reach our full potential, it all starts with one person, one idea, one thought. To harness that positive energy, Lee has written several books, many of which are on The New York Times Best Sellers list, that lay the framework for individual's potential and powerful identity. 

"We haven't yet offered young people such a challenge, we haven't endorsed the 'permaculture' or 'sustainability' model as a topic with the importance it deserves so as a society we are still getting isolated sparks of genius that don't always mesh with one another comfortably when real world application is attempted," Culhane went on to the source.

It's safe to say that both Culhane and Lee believe in the same goal: A sustainable world. The grand prize of the Google Science Fair includes a National Geographic Expedition to the Galapagos. In June, finalists will be narrowed down to 90 regional finalists. Come August, global finalists will convene at Google Headquarters in California to discover the No. 1 winner. 

Indian Leader Stresses Importance of Holistic Education

As one of India's acclaimed social activists, Anna Hazare recently gave a speech calling for a reform of the education system. He spoke at the two-day ThinkEDU Conclave, urging that what students need is a more holistic approach, rather than the present system focused strictly around standardized tests and syllabi. 

The same could be said of the U.S. Hazare's comments very much resonate with some of the issues that both American teachers and students complain about in the U.S., hinting that education extends past the classroom.

"When we only focus on a syllabus and drilling that into a student's head solely to achieve results, we fail to see and understand the students' schedule for the entire day," Hazare told the New Indian Express. "What do they do when they leave school? Do they play? Do they get enough sleep? These things are critical to the development of our youth."

Holistic education emphasizes that every child is more than just a future employee; every individual's intelligence, strengths and abilities are much more complex than his or her scores on standardized tests. The approach is based on the premise that we find our identities and meaning through connections to the community, calling upon our love of learning.

These ideals and principles fall in line with those of Ilchi Lee and his books. Lee, a New York Times bestselling author and dedicated advocate of a sustainable world, stresses that a classroom that fosters holism can give students a more well-rounded foundation to launch them into the world.

At the speech in January, Hazare pointed out that education is the key to narrowing the gap between the rich and the poor, although that gap is currently growing. The 76-year-old activist commented that the system had failed to achieve the objectives it had been set out to serve in the early years of the nation.

"Who thinks of his neighbor?" Hazare continued to the source. "Who thinks of his village? Who thinks of his country? Creating this awareness is the function of education."

Oftentimes the information we learn for tests and quizzes goes in one ear and out the other, so to speak. We obsess over producing results rather than bettering ourselves and our communities. In the name of self-improvement, Lee created and introduced new methods of brain education to provide individuals from all walks of life with tangible tools for personal growth and fulfillment.

Teachers Regaining Hope in Holistic Education

There's no doubt that teachers are the unsung heroes of our day. They shape how we learn, which subjects we feel inclined to and mold our career paths over the course of nearly two decades. Yet, under heightened pressure from budgets, teachers continue to hit the roadblocks of stress that many have simply overlooked as occupational hazards.

That's why in Santa Fe, N.M., a teacher renewal program offered through Academy for the Love of Learning has re-ignited the spark of their love of holistic education, providing newfound support and solace. 

"Teaching is a raw and personal act – an in-your-face profession," Patty Lee, who directs the teacher renewal program, told ABQJournal. "Teachers can lose themselves and lose their souls. They go into it thinking the system will nurture them, but that's not what happens … Overall, it's to wake people up to being the teacher they want to be and make sure that they are on the right path."

Lee pointed out that the program is meant to help teachers find themselves again and rekindle their passion for their profession. One fifth grade teacher named Eileen Stapleton shared that in her heart, she is a holistic teacher. For her, the academy has helped her hold onto her belief in holistic education, where education transcends standardized test scores.

In many ways the academy nurtures similar principles as those found in Ilchi Lee books. Lee, who is a New York Times bestselling author, has penned 36 books including "Brain Wave Vibration: Getting Back into the Rhythm of a Happy, Healthy Life" and "Change: Realizing Your Greatest Potential." A dedicated advocate for a peaceful, sustainable world and an innovative leader in human brain potential development, Ilchi Lee has helped millions of people all across the world find their true potential – whether they're teachers, doctors or social workers. 

Holistic Farm Education for Youngsters

New after-school programs in Massachusetts are merging traditional academics with holistic food education. The Massachusetts Farm to School Project along with the Worcester Public Schools bring kindergartners to local farms for a crash-course in nutrition.

In the age of microwave dinners and precut frozen vegetables, there exists a large gulf between how food is produced and how it ends up on the kitchen table. In the two community programs, kids get to learn about where food is grown in an engaging way, allowing them to interact with their peers while learning.

This type of holistic education tries to satiate youngsters' hunger for learning at the same time filling their bellies with local food tastings. They also get to greet farmers, experience cooking demonstrations and take home produce.

Isabel Burgess, Worcester Kindergarten Initiative evaluation and education specialist, pointed out that project is all about making connections. It seeks to teach students concepts that they can use inside and outside of the classroom. For instance, in the fall kids made applesauce while learning about Johnny Appleseed and locally grown fruits. Later, they received a visit from the mobile market, which delivered a bag of locally grown apples and pears to take home to their families.

When kids see instructors outside of the classroom, they become more than just someone who's paid to instruct. They become a personal mentor, establishing a close relationship that encourages well-rounded education.

This holistic approach relates to Ilchi Lee education as the founder of Dahn Yoga stresses how we are all citizens of the Earth. The more students know about food, the more they will appreciate and respect where it comes from. Managing the planet's resources is essential if we are to continue thriving as individuals, communities and nations.