What the Health do I need to know to teach Health?
Updated: May 2
Teaching Health can be intimidating and sensitive, depending on the topic. Teaching Health can also be the most rewarding subject to teach as you get to engage in critical content that helps to develop life skills. In my opinion, no other subject does this. Did you know that a properly taught Health program reduces the risk of heart disease by 2.16 percentage points and reduces the risk of diabetes by 1.3 percentage points? Teaching the content properly could literally help save a life.
So, what’s the rationale?
In an increasingly complex, sedentary, and rapidly changing world it is critical for every young person to not only be able to cope with life’s challenges but also to flourish as healthy, safe and active citizens in the 21st century. Teaching Health is a strong investment in the future of the world population.
Technology and media will continue to transform our lives and change the way we communicate. Some health issues will endure while new ones will emerge – hello Covid 19. Students need critical inquiry skills to research and analyse knowledge and to understand the influences on their own and others’ health, safety, wellbeing and physical activity participation. They also need to be resilient, to develop empathy and to be actively engaged in their own and others’ wellbeing, using health, safety and physical activity resources for the benefit of themselves and their communities.
In teaching Health, you will help students develop the skills, knowledge, and understanding to strengthen their sense of self, and build and manage satisfying, respectful relationships. They learn to build on personal and community strengths and assets to enhance safety and wellbeing. They critique and challenge assumptions and stereotypes. Students learn to navigate a range of health-related sources, services, and organisations.
Teaching Health provides students with an experiential curriculum that is contemporary, relevant, challenging and physically active.
In your teaching, take a strengths-based approach. Rather than focusing only on potential health risks, make sure the curriculum has a stronger focus on supporting students to develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they require to make healthy, safe and active choices that will enhance their own and others’ health and wellbeing. This curriculum should include a range of the following focus areas and key topics:
Alcohol and other drugs 1. What is a drug? 2. What are medicines and who gives them to me? 3. How do we store and use medicines safely at home? 4. How does smoking affect us? 5. What can I do if someone is smoking near me? 6. What are alcoholic drinks and what do labels tell us? 7. What effect does alcohol have on the body? Food and Nutrition 1. Food labelling 2. Food advertising 3. Food Culture around the world 4. Healthy Lunchbox (part I) 5. Healthy Lunchbox (part ii) Mental Health and Wellbeing
1. Strengths and Self Esteem 2. Mental Health & Community Resources 3. Media and Influence 4. Social & Online Protocols 5. Relationships 6 & 7. Emotional Response 8. Life Balance 9. Balanced Life continued Relationships and Sexuality 1. The emotional changes of growing up 2. Understanding my body 3. Puberty 4. Managing puberty 5. Understanding where I come from (menstruation and sperm production) Safety 1. Recognising Safe 2. Reacting to situations 3. Problem Solving 4. Understanding bullying 5. Responding to bullying
The health and well-being of our world’s young people is not a matter of luck. It is not a chance or random event. It must be a planned outcome. The case for well-designed, well-resourced, and sustained health education in school’s is compelling.
School health education programs can reduce health risk behaviours such as tobacco use, poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, drug and alcohol use, as well as actions that increase stress, and risk of injury, and violence. Because these behaviours are open to change, quality school health education provides the best opportunity to promote positive health behaviour among children and adolescents.
The potential for school health education to improve health and save lives is significant. If we want to help keep this world of ours and the children we teach healthier, then part of that is facilitating a high-quality health education program.