Some highlights of Ontario's 2019 elementary Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum include:

  • more learning about mental health including a new section on social-emotional learning (SEL) skills
  • new and updated learning about body image, consent and online safety
  • new learning about concussions
  • sexual health education that is age-appropriate

The 2019 elementary curriculum at a glance

The new HPE curriculum helps students learn the skills and knowledge they need to lead healthy, active lives and make healthy and safe choices.

This learning relates to the everyday experiences of students — at home, at school, and in the community — and helps students develop skills and habits that will enhance their physical, social-emotional and mental well-being for the rest of their lives.

There are four parts to the curriculum:

  1. Social-Emotional Learning Skills
  2. Active Living
  3. Movement Competence
  4. Healthy Living (includes a new topic on mental health)

In the Healthy Living section, students learn the skills and knowledge that can help them to make healthy decisions about:

  • healthy eating
  • safety at home, school, online and in the community
  • drugs, alcohol and other substances and habits
  • human development and sexual health
  • mental health

Note: The Grade 9-12 Health and Physical Education Curriculum has not changed since 2015. See what high school students learn.

What has changed

Following the province's largest consultation on education in the fall of 2018, the elementary Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum has been updated to reflect public feedback, research and advice from experts.

The 2019 HPE curriculum for Grades 1-8 will make Ontario a leader in teaching students about:

  • Mental Health, including Social-Emotional Learning Skills
  • Concussions
  • The effects and risks of vaping, and cannabis
  • Cyber safety, including bullying prevention and digital privacy
  • Healthy body image
  • Healthy relationships, including consent

The enhanced curriculum relates to the everyday experiences of students and provides them with the skills and knowledge they need to lead safe, healthy and active lives.

It also takes a more comprehensive approach to learning about mental health. This contributes to students' overall health and well-being, positive mental health, and the ability to learn, build resilience and thrive.

The 2019 curriculum remains focused on physical activity, and movement that build students' skills, abilities, confidence and commitment to life-long healthy, active living.

It also responds to the realities affecting students' lives today. That's why it includes new learning about vaping, the effects and risks of cannabis, body image, concussions, respect for diversity (including sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression), consent, online safety and bullying prevention.

Young people now have widespread access to the Internet and social media, giving them easy access to both helpful and potentially harmful and incorrect information.

It's important for students to learn accurate and current information. This way, as they navigate the digital world, they can develop skills and strategies that help them to stay safe and healthy.

Exemption policy

The government has issued a Policy/Program Memorandum that requires school boards to develop a policy/procedure allowing parents to exempt their child from instruction of the human development and sexual health education component of the elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum. Currently, not all school boards across Ontario have policies in place to address the exemption of children from sexual health education. School board policies/procedures must be in place by November 30, 2019.