Working With Local Businesses to Support the Total Child

There’s more to consider than just classroom instruction when it comes to child development. It’s a collaboration, and an often overlooked sector is local businesses.
September 2018, Volume 42, Issue 1

Schools and local businesses have common and often compatible goals to better prepare their students for college, careers, and life, according to the Learning First Alliance “Community in Education: Bringing Businesses and Schools Together” report. The key is finding out they work together.

One area this concept can be applied is supporting the total child—a shift in focus that now considers:

  • factors inside the classroom, such as instruction;
  • factors outside of the classroom, such as family engagement and a child’s readiness to learn; and
  • the development of skills like communication, goal-setting, and conflict resolution.


Schools are paying attention to more than just a child’s academic achievement; they’re now focused on their mental and physical well-being, too. Successful schools, according to the report, expose students to ways to manage themselves, including the roles of exercise, nutrition, and other tools to help them become effective learners.

So how can businesses and educators collaborate to advance the concept of total child?

  • Educators could join with local businesses to get students mentoring opportunities to explore their interests and help them get an understanding of the world of work.
  • Education communities and local businesses could form a formal alliance that focuses on the “soft skills” needed for work. Then it can build a specific plan for each grade level.
  • Both groups could advocate together for state economic development investment to improve and enhance school counselor ratios.
  • School districts could collaborate with local businesses to redefine “high-performing schools,” based on criteria such as volunteerism, extracurricular participation, employment rates, and attendance.
  • Schools could offer a reciprocal process where business and educators find ways to work with students to enhance the learning of key business-related ideas in both the school and the business settings.

To read more about supporting the total child, check out the full “Community in Education: Bringing Businesses and Schools Together” report from the Learning First Alliance.

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