By Lower School Psychologist Amy Cuddy, Ph.D., and School Nurse Lexy Herbein, M.S.N., R.N., P.C.C.NThis article appeared in the Spring 2020 Issue of the Tower Hill Bulletin
As the Lower School psychologist and school nurse, we know it’s important for students as young as 3 to learn about the essential players in their Tower Hill wellness education. Be it the physical education teachers, athletic trainers, cafeteria staff or security personnel, our youngest students are learning about those individuals who take a role in providing daily support, safety and health education in various ways throughout the school. Through visual aids, role plays, scavenger hunts, activities and student contributions, the youngest Hillers are laying a foundation for their own health and well-being as the newest members of the Tower Hill community. These instructional moments also serve as the building blocks on which students will broaden their physical, emotional and social well-being as they progress through the Lower School program and beyond.
Via intentional and direct classroom instruction, we are meeting with students in Tower Tots through fourth grade for trimester-based lessons focused on matters ranging from personal safety to healthy decision making. In the preschool, our focus is on expected and appropriate behavior within a school community and learning how to become a safe and healthy member of the class. Working in partnership with Nemours Children’s Health System, our oldest preschoolers will also expand their learning and decision making to the world outside the classroom.
As we progress through the primary grades, students will be exposed to concepts centered on identification of healthy people and healthy behaviors, how to establish healthy habits for themselves and which factors could interfere with positive decision making. The culmination of these efforts will encourage our fourth graders to assume leadership and advocacy roles as they identify ways to promote prosocial behavior in their peers and their school community. These themes are also being reiterated during Lower School specials to further enhance students’ internalization and comprehension of concepts. Be it learning the names of various emotions in Spanish class, the function of different muscle groups in P.E. or the rehearsal of refusal behaviors in theater class, the faculty is engaged in cross-curricular collaboration to establish and practice health promoting behaviors for all.
The expanded health curriculum is committed to developing core concepts as provided by the Delaware Department of Education that will set a foundation for promoting health enhancing behaviors among our students. It also helps students understand how to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle and fosters skills for self-efficacy to help students make informed decisions and avoid high risk behaviors. Health is an ever changing and evolving field that requires a dynamic curricular framework. At Tower Hill, we aim to provide a continuum of learning for our prekindergarten through 12th grade students. Standards of learning provide each division with a guide for creating structured learning experiences in health education. Our overall goals include the following:
- Students will demonstrate the knowledge to make decisions that reduce health risks, increase health enhancing behaviors and learn skills to foster a positive self-concept.
- Students will develop attitudes, attributes and skills that foster effective responsibility and decision making for maintaining personal health and protection, as well as family and community health.
- Students will identify internal and external factors that influence health practices and behaviors, including personal values, beliefs and perceived norms to recognize the impact of family, peers, culture, media and technology on their choices.
The inaugural year of Lower School health is focused on providing baseline knowledge to promote healthy living in our youngest students, as we strive to advance our schoolwide commitment to educating the whole child. The demands of the 21st century require that schools take a new approach to preparing students for lifelong habits of self awareness and self care. By focusing on the whole child tenets advocated by the Association for Supervision in Curriculum Development, we can ensure that our students enter school feeling healthy and strong and that they establish a healthy lifestyle during their time at Tower Hill. We can guarantee that our students learn in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for them and that they are then able to carry these lessons into the future as they become responsible citizens in their college careers and beyond.