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Teaching health and wellbeing to improve learning

Over the last two decades, society has been continuously advancing and it is now essential to encourage children to play an active role in understanding their feelings, how to navigate an increasingly growing online world and how to look after their own physical and mental health.

Photo: Fieldwork

"Incorporating health and wellbeing in the curriculum is a brilliant way to guide primary and middle years students towards strategies during their educational journey"

While many innovations over the years have had positive effects, some changes have also presented challenges. Primary and middle years learners face trials today that previous year groups didn’t have to contend with at such a young age.

It’s incredibly important for young learners to develop the knowledge and understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes which they need for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now and in the future. It has been recognised that educating students on being healthy and safe, and with strategies to promote their wellbeing has positive effects on learning.

To improve learning, the introduction of a new subject and learning goals for health and wellbeing signifies an important update in the International Primary Curriculum and International Middle Years Curriculum to cover the ages 5 to 14. 

“A topic that isn’t always covered from a health and wellbeing perspective is financial literacy”

Through the new subject focus, learners will gain knowledge related to maintaining health to take increasing responsibility for being healthy and safe at different stages in their lives. As the children develop skills in this area, learners will be able to self-regulate and develop strategies to support, enhance and take responsibility for their learning to best suit their needs.

At this developmental stage, especially for middle year students who may be noticing some physical changes, there are less obvious changes taking place in our brains. We need to help children and pre-teens understand that change is inevitable and a result of growing up.

Through activities and discussion within health and wellbeing-focused learning, students will investigate how developmental stages have an impact on their bodies, emotions and brain, offering some much-needed clarity during a time that might seem quite confusing.

Nowadays children and early teens are also exposed to the mental effects of an online world and social media channels.

Learners must know and understand the significance of keeping safe online, recognise that everything they see online might not be accurate or real and know the risks associated with sharing any personal information. By actively educating students on the various challenges and risks of the online world, they can develop approaches to help them feel confident and safe while online.

Finally, a topic that isn’t always covered from a health and wellbeing perspective is financial literacy. All learners should develop their understanding of how money relates to life and the various ways it can be used such as budgeting, saving and even borrowing. By embedding financial strategies early on, it can help students to feel less anxious and more informed about handling money throughout their lives.

After taking part in challenges and activities based around real-life scenarios touching on the different topics and goals during their unit of learning, students start considering tactics that could assist them and can see how a sense of stability could be re-established. The aim is for them to be able to understand how and when to seek help and to understand simple approaches to counter feelings of being overwhelmed, inexperienced and worried.

Incorporating health and wellbeing in the curriculum is a brilliant way to begin educating primary and middle years students on how to look after their wellbeing and guide them towards strategies that will help them during their educational journey. Health and wellbeing is an important academic subject and is an essential starting point, but it should also be addressed more broadly as it encompasses all aspects of school life and beyond.

About the author:

This is a sponsored post from Fieldwork Education, which provides International Curriculum, Professional Learning and Accreditation through the International Curriculum Association to schools and teachers around the world. 

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