Health and wellbeing is schools is critical to developing happy and healthy young people. Ultimately, we want our students to be informed and activity citizens of not only their local community but the globe. As a health and physical education teacher and school leader I am acutely aware of the benefits of a strong health and wellbeing program. However, some educational leaders don’t prioritise the health and wellbeing of their students and will instead favour literacy and numeracy programs, often in an effort to improve scores on standardised tests. As health and physical education teachers we should continue to push and promote the benefits of a comprehensive and rigorous health and wellbeing program. But, we should also champion the academic benefits of our program to ensure that school leaders both value and invest in our programs and most importantly our students. Below are the top reasons, as a school leader I consider health and wellbeing programs in schools to be critical:
- Improve academic achievement The evidence on the impact of health and wellbeing programs in schools on academic achievement isn’t always clear. In general students who engage in school based wellbeing programs on average have the equivalent of three months gain of additional learning time (Dix, 2020).
- Improve achievement and school completion Research on the positive impact of wellbeing has demonstrated higher levels of achievement, school completion and overall mental and social health (Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, 2020)
- Better emotional regulation There is a reciprocal relationship between emotions and academic performance. Students who experience test anxiety perform worse on tests compared to their peers. Students who have positive emotions towards a test or subject perform better (Pekrun, 2017). Wellbeing programs that specific teach students self-regulation skills better prepare students emotionally for academic testing.
- Improved self-esteem A high esteem esteem in primary school is positively linked to life satisfaction in middle age. Higher cognitive ability however, is not linked to higher satisfaction in middle age (Cunningham, 2021). Well structured Health and Physical education programs can promote and develop students self esteem.
- Structured social support Social support from both teachers and peers is important in establishing effective self-regulated learners (Zumbrunn, Tadlock & Roberts, 2011). Structured health and wellbeing programs allow students to be socially supported by both their teachers and peers.
Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. (2020). What works best 2020 update. cese.nsw.gov.au
Cunningham, I. (2021). Self managed learning and the new educational paradigm. [kindle edition].
Dix, K., Ahmed, S. K., Carslake, T., Sniedze-Gregory, S., O’Grady, E., Trevitt, J., & Evidence for Learning (firm). (2020). Student health and wellbeing systematic review: Main report and executive summary.
Pekrun, R., Lichtenfeld, S., Marsh, H. W., Murayama, K., & Goetz, T. (2017). Achievement emotions and academic performance: Longitudinal models of reciprocal effects. Child development, 88(5), 1653-1670.
Zumbrunn, S., Tadlock, J. & Roberts, E. (2011). Encouraging self-regulated learning in the classroom: A review of the literature. Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium (MERC), Virginia Commonwealth University
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