Design Principles for Schools

Design Principles for Schools: Putting the Science of Learning and Development Into Action is a new playbook created by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) and Turnaround for Children in partnership with the Forum for Youth Investment and in association with the Science of Learning and Development (SoLD) Alliance and more than 100 leaders from across the fields of education and youth development.

The Design Principles playbook provides the scientific foundation for the principles of whole-child design and illustrates ways to apply them in schools. Authored by Pamela Cantor, M.D., Christina Theokas, and Elizabeth Tijerina of Turnaround and Linda Darling-Hammond, Laura E. Hernández, Abby Schachner, and Sara Plasencia of LPI, the new playbook is a product of a collaborative project that coalesced around a commitment to healthy development, learning, and thriving for every child and a collective understanding of how to create the equitable conditions necessary to enable that outcome. The project synthesized what is known today about how the brain develops and how children learn into key elements that need to be present and fully integrated in order to optimize learning and development: the Essential Guiding Principles for Equitable Whole-Child Design. These principles include:

  • Positive Developmental Relationships
  • Environments Filled With Safety and Belonging
  • Rich Learning Experiences and Knowledge Development
  • Development of Skills,  Habits,  and Mindsets
  • Integrated Support Systems

When these principles are integrated and applied to structures, systems, and practices, they will promote authentic and rich opportunities for learning and development and the experiences and conditions where young people can discover who they are and who they can become.

An accompanying resource is the Turnaround for Children Toolbox. The Toolbox includes a Whole-Child Design Blueprint for integrating and operationalizing the Design Principles in a school setting, based on Turnaround’s 20 year history of working alongside educators to deepen their understanding about how to affirm, personalize for, and attune to each student. The Toolbox and Blueprint are grounded in the same scientific research as the Design Principles. The Toolbox includes assessment and measurement tools, planning guides, videos, articles, and more, which educators can use to implement and measure the conditions for whole-child learning and development in their own classrooms, schools, and systems. Turnaround’s new Whole-Child Design Inventory, an assessment and reflection tool with school, classroom, and student versions, is a great first step.

For more, see: