Health education teaches about physical, mental, emotional and social health. It builds students’ knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes about health. Health education motivates students to improve and maintain their health, prevent disease, and reduce risky behaviors.
In addition, health education promotes learning in other subjects. One study showed that reading and math scores of third and fourth grade students who received comprehensive health education were significantly higher than those who did not. In general, healthy students learn better. Numerous studies have shown that healthier students tend to do better in school; they have higher attendance, have better grades, and perform better on tests.
Health Education is required for all students in grades 1-12 according to RI General Laws. Students should receive an average of 100 minutes per week of health and physical education. This does not include recess, free play, or after-school activities. Specific requirements for health education are outlined in Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs. Health education curriculum must be aligned with the Health Literacy for All: The Rhode Island Health Education Framework and with the associated Comprehensive Health Instructional Outcomes.
According to Rhode Island General Laws, every school district is required to have a District Health & Wellness Subcommittee. District Health and Wellness Subcommittees develop policies, strategies, and plans to enhance the health and wellness of the school community. These subcommittees are charged with making recommendations about physical activity, nutrition, health education, physical education, and staff health promotion. Strategies to improve the health and wellbeing of students and staff involving these four issues should also be incorporated into the district’s strategic plan. See the District Health and Wellness Subcommittee Toolkit.