Health education builds students’ knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health. Health education teaches about physical, mental, emotional and social health. It motivates students to improve and maintain their health, prevent disease, and reduce risky behaviors.
Health education curricula and instruction help students learn skills they will use to make healthy choices throughout their lifetime. Effective curricula result in positive changes in behavior that lower student risks around:
alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs, injury prevention, mental and emotional health, nutrition, physical activity, prevention of diseases and sexuality and family life.
Health education promotes learning in other subjects! One study showed that reading and math scores of third and fourth grade students who received comprehensive health education were significantly higher than those who did not. In general, healthy students learn better. Numerous studies have shown that healthier students tend to do better in school. They have higher attendance, have better grades, and perform better on tests.
NH Minimum Standards for Public School Approval (Ed 306.40) and NH HIV and Health Education Law (RSA 186.11 and RSA 189.10) give the New Hampshire requirements for Health education.
Best practices in Health education provide skills-focused instruction that follows a comprehensive, sequential, culturally appropriate K-12 Health education curriculum that addresses all of the New Hampshire Health Education Minimum Standards.
Address the following in Health education instruction:
Assessing personal vulnerability to health risk-taking;
Accurately assessing health risk-taking of peers;
Analyzing the influence of family, peers, culture, and the media on health behaviors; and
Connecting with others who affirm and reinforce health-promoting norms, beliefs, and behaviors.
Allocate funds and release time to support annual professional development for teachers of Health on the following:
Teaching students with physical, medical, or cognitive disabilities;
Teaching students of various cultural backgrounds;
Teaching students with limited English proficiency;
Using interactive teaching methods, such as role-plays or cooperative group activities;
Teaching essential skills for behavior change and guiding student practice of these skills;
Teaching health-promoting social norms and beliefs;
Classroom management techniques, such as social skills training, environmental modification, conflict resolution and mediation, and behavior management;
Strategies for involving parents, families, and others in student learning;
Assessing students’ performance in health education;
Medical updates on health information and health trends.
- Ensure that Health education instruction focuses not only on teaching content knowledge but on teaching skills, including:
Decision-making, Problem-solving, Accessing reliable health information Goal-setting, Communication, Negotiation and refusal, Assertiveness, and Advocacy skills.
- Have one or more than one person who oversees or coordinates Health education.
- Involve parents and families in Health education.
- Make sure that the Health education curriculum is planned, sequential, and developmentally appropriate to better address all of the health instruction outcomes (required content areas).
- Provide health information to parents and families through educational materials sent home and involvement in school-sponsored activities.
- Provide opportunities for Health educators to coordinate instruction with teachers of other subjects and integrate Health into other content areas, particularly Science, Physical Education, and Family & Consumer Sciences.
- Require that the lead Health education teacher in each school have New Hampshire certification in Health education.
- Review and update the curriculum on a regular basis – at most, every five years.