Health and Learning
The academic success of students is strongly linked with their health, and research continues to show a link between health and academic achievement. Research indicates that school health education programs can have positive effects on educational outcomes, as well as health-risk behaviors and health outcomes. On the other hand, hunger, physical and emotional abuse, chronic illness, and health-related behaviors like tobacco use and bullying can lead to poor school performance.
It is important to recognize the relationship between health and education, as well as the need to promote health and well-being within the school environment for all students. Schools play a critical role in promoting the health and safety of young people by teaching students the knowledge and skills necessary to make healthy choices and take responsibility for their own health. A comprehensive health education course, which includes instruction in nutrition topics, teaches skills such as:
- Accessing valid and reliable information
- Analyzing the influence of family, peers, culture, media, technology and other factors
- Using interpersonal communication skills related to verbal and non-verbal communication
- Using a thoughtful approach to decision making
- Setting goals that enhance health and reduce health-related risk
- Practice of health-enhancing behaviors
- Advocating for personal, family and community health
The Massachusetts Health Curriculum Framework and the National Health Education Standards provide guidance for the development of curriculum, instruction and assessment to ensure that students develop these skills and obtain the necessary content information to employ these skills. In addition to empowering students with skills, it is our responsibility to assist students in becoming health literate individuals. This is the ability of an individual to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health enhancing choices.
The Wellness Policy provides an opportunity to strengthen the links between health and education, to create a healthy environment in which to learn, and to support students in making healthy choices for themselves.