How should I talk about holistic child development? (part one)

    “Holistic child development” is kind of an uncomfortable phrase. It’s long. It uses big words. And it’s not immediately clear. So why do we keep talking about it? Because it’s key to how we work at Compassion.

    It means that our ministry is about more than just the tangible things kids get from us, like food or a Bible. It means that to see real change in the life of a child, we believe you need to develop the whole child—not just change one or two external factors in a child’s life.

    There are four areas we seek to develop in a child:

    • Physical
    • Cognitive
    • Socio-emotional
    • Spiritual

    Let’s talk about the physical area.

    How physical development happens

    This is what a lot of people think about when we talk about helping a child out of poverty.

    When children visit the Compassion centre, they receive a nutritious meal or snack.* Through Compassion sponsorship, children receive regular health check-ups to ensure that they are developing well according to their age and they receive the vaccinations they need. We ensure that children aren’t malnourished, and if they are, we take steps to help them. If children get sick or injured, we get them the care they need.

    But staying healthy is more than just going to the doctor.

    A big part of health is education. Our curriculum teaches children about how to have a healthy body. They learn things like:

    • The importance of tooth brushing, bathing and hand washing.
    • What the different food groups are and how to have a balanced diet.
    • How to prevent and respond to diseases such as malaria and typhoid.
    • The truths about sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV.

    Some of these things might seem like basics—shouldn’t a child already know how to wash her hands? But many children haven’t learned these habits at home, and they can mean the difference between life and death, literally.

    Our sponsors are ensuring that sponsored children have the chance to grow up healthy and develop the habits to keep themselves healthy the rest of their lives.

    *This excludes Compassion Ethiopia. Read here to learn more.