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Health Curriculum Framework
Building Resilience Through Comprehensive Health

January 1996

Comprehensive Health Content

Core Concept

The Core Concept of Building Resilience is that comprehensive health education enables students to thrive, persevere, and maintain a positive attitude and healthy bodies. Comprehensive health education teaches fundamental health concepts, promotes habits and behaviors that enhance health, and guides efforts to build healthy families, schools, and communities.

Figure 2 indicates the range of interrelated health content areas addressed in comprehensive health education. By the end of grade 10, students should be able to demonstrate knowledge in each area. In developing curricula, school districts will need to assess current local needs to determine which content areas will be emphasized.

Figure 2: Comprehensive Health Content Areas

Community Health: Characteristics of a healthy community; roles of community agencies, organizations, and staff; skills for advocacy and collaboration; overcoming racism and prejudice;

Disease Prevention and Control: Factors contributing to the development of chronic, degenerative, and communicable diseases; methods for detection and strategies for prevention;

Environmental Health: Ways to conserve natural resources and prevent pollution; relationship between the environment and physical, mental, and social health;

Family Life: Development of healthy roles and interactions between family members; physical, mental and social growth and development through the life cycle, from birth to death;

Healthy Relationships: The importance of healthy relationships with family, friends, and workplace and community members; communication skills and other skills to build such relationships; concepts and skills for conflict resolution and violence prevention;

Mental and Emotional Health: Issues related to attitudes, stress, self-acceptance, and social awareness; relationship to physical health; understanding and managing emotions; dealing with loss and grief; preventing suicide;

Nutrition: Skills, knowledge, and attitudes that help in selecting a healthy diet; nutritional requirements throughout the life cycle; factors that influence food choices; sports nutrition; eating disorders;

Personal Health: Structure and function of body systems, including their interdependence and overall contribution to healthy functioning;

Personal Safety: Factors contributing to intentional and unintentional injury, including motor vehicle crashes, guns, homicide, and suicide; first aid and emergency procedures; verbal, physical, emotional, and sexual harassment and abuse; rape; homophobia;

Physical Activity and Fitness: Manipulative, locomotor, and non-locomotor movement skills; concepts of biomechanics and exercise physiology; principles of training and conditioning; role of regular physical activity in lifelong health and well-being;

Resource Management: Obtaining and evaluating health-related information, services, and products; managing home, consumer, workplace, and environmental resources;

Sexuality: Reproductive physiology; interpersonal skills for responsible sexual behavior and choices, including abstinence and protection; gender and sexual orientation; prevention of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection;

Tobacco, Alcohol, and Other Drug Use: Risks and consequences of using these substances; skills and strategies for prevention; appropriate uses of drugs and medication.

In this framework, Content in Comprehensive Health is represented by Strands and Learning Standards. The three Strands are intended to be woven throughout curricula, instruction, and assessments in comprehensive health education.

The Common Core of Learning provides the foundation for each of the three Strands.

  • Thinking and Communicating is reflected in Health Literacy.
  • Gaining and Applying Knowledge is addressed through Healthy Self-Management.
  • Working and Contributing is expressed in Health Promotion and Advocacy.

Comprehensive Health Content
Health Literacy Strand

Learning Standards:

  1. Students will understand current concepts of health promotion, disease prevention, and risk assessment in relationship to lifelong growth and development.
  2. Students will develop individual competence and versatility in movement skills, understand movement concepts, and relate physical activity to lifelong health.
  3. Students will analyze the impact of social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors on health.
  4. Students will identify, use, and evaluate health information and resources.

Health Self-Management Strand

Learning Standards:

  1. Students will assess health beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors in order to set achievable goals, monitor progress, and evaluate outcomes.
  2. Students will demonstrate the ability to assess risk, consider potential consequences, and make health-enhancing decisions.
  3. Students will manage resources and practice behaviors that protect and enhance their physical, intellectual, emotional, and social health.

Health Promotion and Advocacy Strand

Learning Standards:

  1. Students will communicate health information clearly and accurately.
  2. Students will promote health and collaborate to build safe and supportive social environments.

The Massachusetts Learning Standards have been designed with three purposes in mind:

  • To acknowledge the importance of both the content and skills students learn in each discipline;
  • To help teachers create curriculum and classroom assessments;
  • To be used as the basis for a statewide assessment of school and district performance at grades 4, 8, &10

Comprehensive health education builds health knowledge in developmentally appropriate ways across all grades PreK through adult through a planned, sequential, and coherent instructional program in health education, family and consumer sciences, and physical education. Hence, the Learning Standards in this Framework are intended to spiral so that students have multiple opportunities to learn content in different ways at various grade level spans, PreK through grade 12.

The Learning Standards are also applicable to the thousands of adult learners enrolled in adult basic education centers throughout Massachusetts. Adult educators are strongly encouraged to implement these standards and adapt them according to the literacy and experiential levels of their students.

Students may require support or adaptations to achieve these standards, and teachers and families are urged to consult and apply the "Strategies for Including All Learners" listed in Chapter Two, "Lifelong Learning, Teaching, and Assessment."

The Health Curriculum Framework includes Key Questions with each Learning Standard to suggest dimensions of lifelong inquiry and learning in comprehensive health education. Essential questions such as What is the relationship of health to behavior? or What makes health information reliable? are also intended to spark additional questions for discussion and inquiry and point to possible connections with other disciplines. How It Looks in the Classroom/Laboratory/Physical Education Setting presents a sampling of extended projects and curriculum units in which students address the key questions in each Learning Standard.

Last Updated: January 1, 1996
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