Components of Coordinated School Health
The following are working descriptions of the eight components of coordinated school health.*
Health Education: 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. Comprehensive school health education includes courses of study (curricula) for students in pre-K through grade 12 that address a variety of topics such as alcohol and other drug use and abuse, healthy eating/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) and incorporate the characteristics of an effective health education curriculum. Health education assists students in living healthier lives. Qualified, trained teachers teach health education.
Physical Education: Physical education is a school-based instructional opportunity 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 (course of study) that provides cognitive content and learning experiences in a variety of activity areas. Quality physical education programs assist students in achieving the national standards for K-12 physical education. The outcome of a quality physical education program is a physically educated person who has the knowledge, skills, and confidence to enjoy a lifetime of healthful physical activity. Qualified, trained teachers teach physical education.
Health Services: These services are designed to ensure access or referral to primary health care services or both, foster 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 optimum 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 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 to achieve nutrition integrity. The school nutrition services offer students a learning laboratory for classroom nutrition and health education, and serve as a resource for linkages with nutrition-related community services. Qualified child nutrition professionals provide these services.
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.
Healthy and Safe School Environment: A healthy and safe school 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 physical conditions such as temperature, noise, and lighting. The psychosocial environment includes the physical, emotional, and social conditions that affect the well-being of students and staff.
Health Promotion for Staff: Schools can provide opportunities for school 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. This personal commitment often transfers into greater commitment to the health of students and creates positive role modeling. Health promotion activities have improved productivity, decreased absenteeism, and reduced health insurance costs.
School Wellness Guide: A Guide for Protecting the Assets of Our Nation's Schools is a comprehensive guide that provides information, practical tools and resources for school employee wellness programs.
Family/Community Involvement: An integrated school, parent, and community approach can enhance the health and well-being of students. School health advisory councils, coalitions, and broadly based constituencies for school health can build support for school health program efforts. Schools actively solicit parent involvement and engage community resources and services to respond more effectively to the health-related needs of students.
Parent Engagement: Strategies for Involving Parents in School Health [pdf 1.1M]
Describes strategies and actions schools can take to increase parent engagement in promoting positive health behaviors among students
* These descriptions were adapted from multiple sources, including
- Allensworth DD, Kolbe LJ. The comprehensive school health program: exploring an expanded concept. Journal of School Health 1987;57(10): 409–12.
- Institute of Medicine. Schools and Health: Our Nation’s Investment. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1997.
- Marx E, Wooley SF, Northrop D, editors. Health Is Academic: A Guide to Coordinated School Health Programs. New York: Teachers College Press; 1998.
- Adolescent and School Health
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