Teaching Health; More Than Just Healthy Eating

We would all agree that health is an important subject, particularly in the wake of the lockdown. Yet in our already crowded curriculum, it can be challenging to find time to teach it. Many of us already dedicate time planning sports trips, planning netball training sessions or slotting in daily fitness activities. HPE then becomes a subject solely taught in a gym or court. I believe now is the time to do better.

When I talk about teaching Health with my non teacher friends, they often imagine that I am referring to either healthy eating or puberty. Perhaps because these are the topics they remember learning themselves at school! But when you explore the curriculum and what health looks like at college, you realise it is much more than that.

Last term, for example, we explored Te Whare Tapa Wha. We started by discussing each principle before looking at how this model of health aligns with our own wellbeing. The students discussed ways in which they could improve different aspects of their health, from Taha Whanau to Taha Wairua. They realised that the taha are connected - playing a sports game could boost their physical, social and mental health. We then began to discuss the factors that could affect our health, which became very topical as we watched Covid-19 spread throughout the world.

As we returned to school this term, we also returned to Te Whare Tapa Wha. It gave us the words to be able to discuss the lockdown and how it affected us. As it was known to the students, they could articulate how isolation affected the taha and what they, and we, could do to help them feel better.

In fact, one of the things that came out of this was the compliments project. Each day we select a different student to compliment, and every student in the class must think of something they like about that person. We realised that this was the time for positivity, for 'big ups not put downs'.

We have now moved on to look at the way that social messages and stereotypes can affect feelings of self worth. This is a great AO to be covering in the current climate, as the students are growing more aware of stereotyping and racism. They are absolutely loving the sessions and keep asking for more!

 Health topics can easily be integrated into literacy, inquiry, or you could even do a short 10/15 minute session to start or end the day. If you are interested to see health at a higher level, check out Kata O'Donnell facilitate a health lesson with a y12 class.

I've always enjoyed teaching health, but post lockdown I think we can all see it's importance. The skills learnt in health can be applied in our daily lives. It is relevant to us all. After this experience I am determined to make time for health teaching every year. How will you find time for health?


  1. I love this Danni!! Such a cool reflection and the compliments project is so special. Health is life :)

    1. Thanks Georgia, I definitely thought of you/your teaching as I wrote this!


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