The H&PE Curriculum document provides a forward to the junior grades explaining how students are different developmentally at this stage: physically, cognitively, and emotionally (p.125). The health curriculum in the junior grades is particularly important, as it focuses on risk assessment and protection from and responses to dangerous situations, covering the topics of bullying, substance use, abuse, violence, and technology-related risks (p.127).
Both of my practicum placements this year are in junior classrooms (6 and 5-6), and based on my experience to date with students in this age group, I think that this is an important area for the H&PE Curriculum to address. Students at this age are becoming much more independent, and are given more freedoms both at home and within the school environment. For example, at my practicum school students in the junior grades were permitted to walk downtown with a peer during lunch, so long as they had a note from a guardian. These new experiences and responsibilities make it necessary that junior students are better prepared to assess risk in novel situations, and are able to respond appropriately to the new challenges they will undoubtedly face in these environments.
In their article focusing on The MindUP Curriculum, The Hawn Foundation presents research demonstrating the connection between social and emotional learning and improved student achievement in multiple areas, including “social and emotional skills, attitudes, behavior, and academic performance” (p.1). The article goes on to discuss the importance of keeping children active and engaged in their learning, not only to improve achievement but to improve student happiness and reduce student stress. I really appreciate the way that this article makes the student the focal point of the MindUP program, whilst keeping it relevant to the curriculum and learning environment.
Teachers are responsible for a great deal, and the wellbeing of our students should always be our primary focus. It is our responsibility to teach our students to be self and socially aware, and to make responsible decisions at all times. I think that the MindUP program could serve as a guide to help teachers present parts of the health curriculum to students in a way that is accessible to them and from which they can make meaning.
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Having read the MindUP article, what are some suggestions you would make to improve it? Here’s another link in case you’re really interested in this program.