Figure 1: Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole Child Design
Source: Learning Policy Institute & Turnaround for Children. (2021). Design principles for schools: Putting the science of learning and development into action.

The essential principles of whole child education are manifested in schools that include positive developmental relationships in which adults provide care and guidance that enable youth to grow their agency, learn skills, and take on new challenges; environments of safety and belonging in which young people feel physically and emotionally safe in their identities, knowing that they and their cultures are a valued part of the community; rich learning experiences that develop students’ deep understanding and center students by building on their strengths and experiences; the development of social, emotional, and cognitive skills, habits, and mindsets, including executive function, a growth mindset, personal and social awareness, interpersonal skills, resilience and perseverance, metacognition, and self-direction; and integrated support systems that enable schools to meet students’ holistic needs.

The four pillars of community schools can create the conditions for these principles to flourish. Community school pillars such as collaborative leadership and practices and active family and community engagement can orient these schools toward relationship building and inclusive forums that nurture a positive school climate. Dedicated community school managers or directors, who commonly hold positions in these institutions, can also help establish and maintain integrated support systems, making these interventions more accessible, coordinated, and equitable. Finally, with their attention to providing enriched and expanded learning, community schools can create opportunities for young people to engage in an array of learning experiences that pique their curiosity, nurture their full range of skills and habits, and engage them in meaningful and culturally relevant learning.