Embracing Holistic Learning: Why Brehm Offers a Holistic Learning Design

Terri Douglas
Head of School

In attempting to serve the norm with traditional education, it's easy to get swept up in a barrage of lectures, textbooks, and high-stakes tests, forgetting that students are far more than just grades on a report card. That's why a holistic learning design needs to take center stage. It is the protagonist ready to save the day and celebrate the unique strengths and quirks of every student, especially those with neurodiverse profiles. 

So, why should we drop the bell-shaped curve approach and dive headfirst into holistic learning? Let's find out.

Understanding Holistic Learning:

Instead of focusing solely on classroom learning, facts, and details, holistic learning zooms out to see the bigger picture. It's like a GPS for education, guiding students along a learning/living path that considers their whole being—mind, body, and spirit. From academic achievement to passions to social skills, holistic learning recognizes that every part of a student's life is interconnected and needs to be validated and accommodated.

Importance for Neurodiverse Students:

Now, let's talk about our neurodiverse students with brains wired differently, like a circuit board of endless possibilities. Endless possibilities require endless combinations of holistic learning. Traditional education might leave students feeling like square pegs in round holes, but holistic learning flips the script. It's like a custom-tailored suit, perfectly fitted to their unique learning and living profile. By embracing their strengths, holistic learning helps neurodiverse students shine like the stars they are.

Addressing Strengths and Challenges:

Here's the magic of holistic learning: it's all about balance. Like a tightrope walker gracefully navigating a high wire, holistic learning provides a safety net; celebrating strengths and addressing challenges. It's not about sweeping problems under the rug or ignoring the tough stuff—it's about finding creative solutions and providing the support needed to help every student succeed, no matter what hurdles they may face. This requires endless commitment from staff to find the right combination for learning.

Better Outcomes and Greater Opportunities:

Now, let's talk results. When we swap out traditional education's rigid structure for the flexible framework of holistic learning, magic happens. Academic outcomes improve, self-confidence skyrockets, and students can pursue their dreams without being weighed down by past failures' limitations or the embarrassment of being a different learner.

Holistic learning isn't just about passing tests—it's about unlocking the door to rejuvenate hope, awaken potential, and broaden future possibilities.


As a small boarding school, Brehm can deliver a holistic learning design, which has been the signature of Brehm's approach for over 40 years. Our holistic design includes standard-based learning, foundation skill learning, passion-based learning, independent living learning, and social-emotional learning with character building. The program's speech and language and therapeutic components support each area of the design. The Arrowsmith program can further bolster students' outcomes.

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Connecting with a boarding school that understands your child's needs can be daunting.

Reach out to our team of experts to discover how Brehm stands apart, offering a secure and nurturing environment, fostering holistic growth and development.

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