By John Henry Ledwith | August 17, 2017
Senior Sales Manager, ETR
Ah. The sun of summer is beginning to wane. Many of my conversations with colleagues are now centering around that classic fall event, “Return to the Classroom.” Teachers are resetting desks. They’re getting books in place. They’re reviewing and finalizing lesson plans.
All this to be ready for the first starting bell of the new school year.
My own preparation for the fall has me reflecting on an ETR “summer project.” It’s been in the works for several months and is now ready for release. It’s…(drum roll) the brand new HealthSmart Elementary 2nd Edition (K-5) program! And the lesson galleys, posters, flash drives and support material all hit my desk this week.
In anticipation, I’d already gone back to reread the articles from the Journal of School Health special issue on The Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Model. I’d reviewed Dr. Susan Telljohann’s wonderful post on the 15 Characteristics of An Effective Health Education Curriculum. I picked up the galleys and I began to dig in.
Many of ETR’s programs are focused on adolescent populations. Much of this education works to influence already-existing health situations—poor diet, not enough physical activity, bullying, risks around alcohol, drugs, sex or other behaviors. While the K-12 HealthSmart program can be used that way, I believe the foundations we lay at the early grades may well have the greatest impact.
The National Scientific Council on the Developing child states, “A child’s environment of relationships can affect lifelong outcomes in emotional health, regulation of stress response systems, immune system competence, and the early establishment of health-related behaviors.” For me that translates to: Don’t wait! Start early! Start today! Use your health education efforts to improve attendance, graduation rates and test scores. Give younger children the foundations that will help them avoid violence, drug use and unplanned pregnancy when they are older.
All of this was rolling through my mind as I was moving through the new lesson plans. I was excited to see the new images and posters, each designed to match grade levels and subject lessons.
The artwork is colorful, creative, focused and purposeful. Right now, in my mind’s eye, I can see these going up on classroom walls as that “Return to the Classroom” takes place. This is actually a vital element of a coordinated approach: creating a school environment that matches our messages about good health.
Take a look at these examples. These are part of the aligned, scientific, engaging approach to building positive health behaviors in the new edition of HealthSmart. You’ll see clear enforcement of refusal skills, support for identifying and expressing feelings in positive ways, and using skills to get help or stop violence. There are many more, and I love them all!
The joyful, expressive desire to learn, make friends and explore that we see on the faces of new elementary students is one of the great gifts of teaching at the early grades. Let’s stoke this enthusiasm as students grow and move forward.
Have a great year and let me know what’s joyful (and challenging) in your classroom this year. I’d value hearing from you.
John Henry Ledwith is ETR’s Senior Sales Manager. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.