Health and Physical Education in Ontario
Ontario’s new Health and Physical Education curriculum for Grades 1-8 includes learning about topics like mental health, sexual health and consent, as well as the effects and risks of substance use, including cannabis.
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In fall 2018, the Government of Ontario held the largest ever consultation on Ontario’s publicly funded education system . The government had over 72,000 engagements with Ontarians, including parents, students, educators, employers and organizations, on ways the government can deliver education that works. This included comprehensive feedback on the need for an age-appropriate and relevant Health and Physical Education curriculum.
The 2019 Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum for Grades 1-8 is informed by the results of the consultation, as well as research and learnings from other jurisdictions. The result is a modernized and inclusive curriculum that 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. For Grades 1-8, Ontario’s updated HPE curriculum now includes:
- mandatory learning about mental health, including a new section on social-emotional learning skills
- new learning about concussions
- new and updated learning about body image, consent and online safety
- age-appropriate sexual health education
To support our youngest students, the government has also issued The 2019 Addendum to The Kindergarten Program
About the curriculum
Curriculum identifies and describes the knowledge and skills that students are expected to learn in each grade. Students’ achievements are assessed and evaluated based on these expectations.
- Parent Overview: HPE in Grades 1-8 (updated 2019)
- Parent Overview: HPE in Grades 9-12 (unchanged since 2015)
- Health and Physical Education Curriculum, Grades 1-8, 2019 (to be taught starting September 2019)
- Health and Physical Education Curriculum, Grades 9-12 (unchanged since 2015)
The revised elementary HPE curriculum continues to focus on physical activity, skill development and movement that builds students’ abilities, confidence and commitment to life-long healthy, active living.
The revised curriculum includes updated expectations in a number of areas, including mental health, and new expectations on social-emotional learning skills, to be taught in connection with all parts of the curriculum.
The curriculum has been updated to respond to the realities of students’ lives today. Some examples of where new mandatory learning has been introduced on certain topics include:
- Grades 3 and 8 (in addition to existing learning in Grades 1, 2 and 7)
- Grades 5, 7 and 8 (in addition to existing learning in Grade 6)
- Grades 1 to 8
- Grades 1 to 8 (in addition to existing learning)
Healthy body image
- Grades 1 to 3 (in addition to existing learning in Grades 4 and 7)
- Grades 1 to 8 (in addition to existing learning)
- Grades 1 to 3, 6 and 8 (in addition to existing learning in Grades 4, 5 and 7)
Parents are the primary educators of their children and are their children’s first role models. It is important that schools and parents work together so that both home and school provide a supportive framework for young people’s education.
The enhanced HPE curriculum takes a comprehensive approach to learning about mental health. This includes:
- developing social-emotional learning skills
- building mental health literacy, knowledge and skills
- understanding connections between physical and mental health
This approach contributes to students’ overall health and well-being, positive mental health and the ability to learn, build resilience and thrive.
The Human Development and Sexual Health component of the HPE curriculum helps students learn about healthy human physical development as they develop skills for healthy, respectful relationships.
Human development and sexual health education involves more than anatomy and reproduction. It can include a wide range of topics and concepts, including consent.
Sexual development is one component of overall human development. Students will learn about healthy human development in ways that will be geared to their age and stage of development.
The curriculum does not replace the role of parents in educating their children about sexual health.
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.