9 Things to Include in a High School Health Class
Are you putting together a high school health class for your homeschooled teen?
I can help.
Here are nine things to include in the course, keeping in mind that the goal of a health class is to teach teens how their bodies work and what their bodies need so they can form healthy habits that last a lifetime.
We often tell kids what foods are healthy, encouraging them to eat those foods, but it helps for them to understand what our bodies need in the way of nutrition. Our bodies use water, protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins (A, Bs, C, D, E, K), and minerals (Ca, P, K, Na, Fe, I, Mg, Zn). If teens learn what these nutrients do in the body and what foods contain them, they are more likely to choose a healthy diet.
I give my teens a food log to fill out before they learn about nutrition, and as we learn, they evaluate their own eating habits. They can find foods they like that give them a balanced diet and meet their nutritional needs. This helps them form stronger habits of eating well.
Teens and adults need four kinds of exercise: aerobic (for the heart, lungs), strength training (muscles), balance, and stretching (muscles, tendons, ligaments). When teens understand how exercise impacts their bodies, it helps motivate them to exercise. Given a wide variety of choices, many teens enjoy planning their own exercise regime.
To learn more about exercise, read my blog post 4 Kinds of Exercise Teens Need.
Fresh Air & Sunshine
Fresh air (oxygen) and sunshine (vitamin D) are often overlooked by teens as they want to stay inside on a screen or gather inside with other teens their age. While children gravitate toward the outdoors, many teens need to be pulled outside kicking and screaming.
When Covid hit and early studies were showing that vitamin D helped to prevent or shorten the length of infection, I shared that with all the teens I knew. Soon many were taking walks around the block each day just to get some vitamin D. Never underestimate a teen’s desire to be and stay healthy.
How to Avoid Sickness
Handwashing, staying warm and dry, and brushing teeth/flossing are other easy habits that prevent sickness and infection for people of all ages. I am always surprised that people don’t realize that bacteria grow in moist places so when you get wet from water or perspiration, it’s always a good idea to take a shower and change into dry clothes—it’s not an old wives’ tale. Habits that strengthen our immune system and prevent germs from getting inside (most often through our hands touching our face) are super-easy to do. Once you explain the why and how, teens find it easy to adapt these habits into their lives.
Puberty brings with it increased oil flow in skin glands and more sweat! Personal hygiene becomes even more important in high school. Shaving, skin care, and hair care are lifelong habits that are good to form at this age. From teeth to showering, make sure your teen is faithful in her personal hygiene habits.
To learn more about helping teens with acne, read my blog post Skin Care Tips for Teens with Acne.
Healthy Communication & Relationships
Greeting, conversing, and walking through conflict with kindness are all skills that children are not born with. Some pick it up easily from your example, but others need gentle coaching to grow in this area. In addition, teens need to learn to protect themselves from bullies, predators, and friendships that lead them in a wrong direction. It isn’t necessary to teach this in health class, but make sure you cover it some time.
To help your teens argue without raising their voices, disagree without becoming enemies, and forgive one another, listen to my podcast Fight Fair at Finish Well Podcast.
We live in a world that pushes teens to have sex outside of marriage, but the Lord calls us to purity. Teens’ sexual desires are very strong in the teenage years and learning to walk in purity involves their spiritual life, emotional life, and the influences on their minds (TV, movies, social media, friends). They also face strong desires from their uncooperative bodies. So, an ongoing conversation is needed to help your sons and daughters navigate this challenging maze of temptation.
For more help with this issue, read my blog post 4 Ways to Help Our Children Stay Pure in a Seductive World.
There are addictive substances (tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, hard drugs, prescription drugs) and addictive things (video games, online games, social media, shopping). Teens can’t avoid all these things so they need to learn moderation and self-control. Other things need to be avoided completely. That is something your teen will eventually decide for himself when he is an adult. In the meantime, try to get to your teen’s heart on these things and gently walk him through the maze of choices using God’s Word as the light of Truth.
How to Keep Growing in their Relationship with God
Our spiritual health impacts our physical health. Proverbs 14 tells us that envy rots the bones while a peaceful life brings health. In that chapter, you will find several links between spiritual health and physical health. That’s why teaching your teen how to become a Christian and how to grow in the Lord is super-important and part of a health class.
Teens need to understand that their bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit and that they can make healthy choices to honor the Lord with their bodies. We are all stewards of everything God has given us, including our bodies.
In addition, a strong spiritual life helps teens to have the foundation of learning to control those intense emotions of puberty.
There you have it: the ingredients of a high school health class!
Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!
Meredith Curtis, homeschooling mom, writer, speaker, and curriculum creator, loves to encourage families in their homeschooling adventure. She teaches online at True North Homeschool Academy and is the author of Economics, Finances, and Business 1-credit high school course, American Literature & Research 1-credit high school course, and HIS Story of the 20th Century. You can check out her books, curricula, unit studies, and Bible studies at PowerlineProd.com, read her blog at PowerlineProd.com, and listen to her at Finish Well Podcast.