This is an excerpt from Health and Physical Education for Elementary Classroom Teachers With Web Resource by Retta R. Evans & Sandra Kay Sims.
Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) Model
Recently, a more holistic approach focusing on the whole child has evolved from the CSH model. ASCD (formerly known as the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) and the CDC developed a model for improving student learning and health in U.S. schools. The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model combines elements of the traditional coordinated school health approach with ASCD’s Whole Child framework, aiming to provide students with improved knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to health, and increased educational and social outcomes. The Whole Child framework focuses attention on the child with a schoolwide collaborative approach, ensuring that each student is healthy, safe, supported, engaged, challenged, and poised for success. Learning and health are interrelated; students are active participants in both.
The WSCC model (figure 2.2) provides a framework for integration and collaboration between education and health in order to improve student cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development. Whereas the traditional coordinated school health model contained 8 components, the WSCC contains 10. Healthy and Safe School Environment has been broken into two distinct components: Social and Emotional Climate and Physical Environment. In addition, Family/Community Involvement has been separated into the categories of Family Engagement and Community Involvement. These changes highlight the importance of both the school physical and psychosocial environments and the influence of community and family support on the healthy development of students.
The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) model.
Reprinted from ASCD, 2014, Whole school, whole community, whole child: A collaborative approach to learning and health.
The following sections take a closer look at the 10 WSCC components.
Health education provides students with opportunities to acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for making health-promoting decisions, achieving health literacy, adopting health-enhancing behaviors, and promoting the health of others. Topics include alcohol and other drug use and abuse, healthy eating and nutrition, mental and emotional health, personal health and wellness, physical activity, safety and injury prevention, sexual health, tobacco use, and violence prevention.
Health education curricula should address the National Health Education Standards (NHES). Figure 2.3 lists all eight standards. These written indicators were developed to establish, promote, and support health-enhancing behaviors for students at all grade levels - from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The standards provide a framework for teachers, administrators, and policymakers in designing or selecting curricula, allocating instructional resources, and assessing student achievement and progress. The standards provide students, families, and communities with concrete expectations for health education, an important factor in their implementation and success.
A variety of barriers contribute to a lack of quality health instruction at the elementary level. These barriers include minimal teacher preparation program requirements in health, lack of health education topics on standardized student tests, absence of administrative support for health instruction, and little or no teacher in-service training related to health. School administrators and teachers are held accountable for academic achievement but not for health. As a result, when it comes to allocating instructional time and resources in schools, academics frequently take priority over health.
Physical Education and Physical Activity
Physical education is a school-based instructional curriculum for students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge for lifelong participation in physical activity. Physical education is characterized by a planned, sequential K-12 curriculum that provides cognitive content and learning experiences in a variety of activity areas. Quality physical education programs should assist students in achieving the National Standards for K-12 Physical Education (figure 2.4), as set forth by SHAPE America - Society of Health and Physical Educators. The outcome of a quality physical education program is a physically literate person who has the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity.
These services are designed to ensure access to primary health care services, promote appropriate use of primary health care services, prevent and control communicable disease and other health problems, provide emergency care for illness or injury, promote and provide the best possible sanitary conditions for a safe school facility and school environment, and provide educational and counseling opportunities for promoting and maintaining individual, family, and community health. Qualified professionals such as physicians, nurses, dentists, health educators, and other allied health personnel provide these services.
Nutrition Environment and Services
Schools should provide access to a variety of nutritious and appealing meals that accommodate the health and nutrition needs of all students. School nutrition programs reflect the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans and other criteria for achieving integrity in nutrition (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2015). The school nutrition services offer students a learning laboratory for classroom nutrition and health education, and they serve as resources for linking with nutrition-related community services. Qualified child nutrition professionals provide these services. States that prohibit junk food consumption, evaluate their nutrition, prohibit food as a reward, and provide funding for staff training have better overall academic performance and higher test scores (Vinciullo & Bradley, 2009).
Connect With Your Local Farmers
The USDA provides resources for schools interested in developing or growing a farm to school initiative. Fact sheets, grant opportunities, videos, webinars, and planning toolkits are just a few of the valuable resources you will find on this website: www.fns.usda.gov/farmtoschool/farm-school.
Counseling, Psychological, and Social Services
These services are provided to improve students’ mental, emotional, and social health and include individual and group assessments, interventions, and referrals. Organizational assessment and consultation skills of counselors and psychologists contribute not only to the health of students but also to the health of the school environment. Professionals such as certified school counselors, psychologists, and social workers provide these services.
Schools can provide opportunities for school faculty and staff members to improve their health status through activities such as health assessments, health education, and health-related fitness activities. These opportunities encourage staff members to pursue a healthy lifestyle that contributes to their improved health status, improved morale, and a greater personal commitment to the school’s overall coordinated health program that transfers into creation of a positive role model for students. A personalized lifestyle intervention program for teachers (that includes health screenings, health education, peer support, and supportive health policies) can result in improved health habits of faculty and staff members who are involved. Health promotion and worksite wellness programs and activities have been shown to improve productivity, decrease absenteeism, and reduce health insurance costs.
The physical environment includes the physical and aesthetic surroundings and the psychosocial climate and culture of the school. Factors that influence the physical environment include the school building and the area surrounding it; any biological or chemical agents that are detrimental to health; and conditions such as temperature, noise, and lighting. Aesthetic characteristics (such as landscaping, architecture, color, artwork, acoustics, views, and natural lighting) and accommodations (such as climate control, indoor air quality, cleanliness, size of classrooms, hallway traffic flow, and elbow room) are components of the physical environment that influence the comfort and security of students and staff. Researchers have found that excessive noise and overcrowding can affect the academic performance and health of students and faculty. An example of the impact of physical conditions is the substantial body of evidence that is available to support the use of good handwashing practices in reducing infectious diseases, improving school attendance, and reducing student and staff illness.
Social and Emotional Climate
The social and emotional climate includes the physical, emotional, and social conditions that affect the well-being of students and staff. It is the collective attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviors of the entire school community, and it has been linked to student achievement. Research shows that a feeling of connectedness to school is a major contributor to healthy social and emotional development, academic success, and potential protection against risky behaviors (such as sexual, violent, and drug-related behaviors; absenteeism; suspensions; and psychiatric problems). It is therefore imperative that a school climate evoke feelings of connectedness, inclusion, safety, and security, as well as a high expectation of success for every student.
Health is a social issue, and students are influenced by the social environment of their schools. Students learn through observing others, imitating behaviors, and social reinforcement. The social and emotional climate of schools can support or impede healthy choices. Some of the most vulnerable students are those who are socially isolated. Having close friends and experiencing connectedness with others is critical to student health and development. These relationships provide students with nurturance, reassurance of self-worth, and help in coping with stress, and they counteract the effects of loneliness. States with policies prohibiting harassment of students by fellow students and encouraging the prevention of harassment at school were found to have higher test scores and lower dropout rates when compared to states without similar health-promoting policies.
The social and emotional climate of schools can support or impede healthy choices.
Schools must actively solicit parent and family involvement. Attitudes, behaviors, and expectations within families impact the health behavior and academic performance of students. Family relationships provide students with support systems and identity. Children reared in strong families are more likely to be healthy and have opportunities for physical activity, balanced diets, emotional support, and stress reduction. In addition, the way children feel about themselves is determined largely by the way their parents treat them. Families have a primary influence on the health choices that students make. Children observe their parents’ habitual patterns related to eating, drinking, smoking, and seatbelt use. For example, if parents smoke, it is more likely that their children will smoke. Because of this powerful and dynamic relationship, family engagement must be an integral part of school health initiatives.
An integrated school, parent, and community approach can enhance the health and well-being of students. Communities dictate social norms or behavior standards, either formally or informally, which are associated with student health behaviors. For example, alcohol consumption may be forbidden, or involvement in sports may be encouraged in the community. School health advisory councils, coalitions, and broadly based constituencies for school health can build support for school health program efforts and engage community resources and services to respond more effectively to the health-related needs of students. Strong, connected communities are more effective in supporting positive health behaviors and shunning negative ones. Community support breeds increased child well-being, less youth delinquency, and improved child development.
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