This curriculum policy replaces The Ontario Curriculum, Grades 1–8: Health and Physical Education, Interim Edition, re-issued in 2018. All health and physical education programs for Grades 1–8 are now based on the expectations outlined in this curriculum policy.


Health and Physical Education (2019)

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The Importance of the Health and Physical Education Curriculum

This curriculum helps students develop an understanding of what they need in order to make a commitment to lifelong healthy, active living and develop the capacity to live satisfying, productive lives. Healthy, active living benefits both individuals and society in many ways – for example, by increasing productivity and readiness for learning, improving morale, decreasing absenteeism, reducing health-care costs, decreasing anti-social behaviour such as bullying and violence, promoting safe and healthy relationships, and heightening personal satisfaction. Research has shown a connection between increased levels of physical activity and better academic achievement, better concentration, better classroom behaviour, and more focused learning. Other benefits include improvements in mental health and well-being, physical capacity, self-concept, and the ability to cope with stress. The expectations that make up this curriculum also provide the opportunity for students to develop social-emotional learning skills and well-being. This practical, balanced approach will help students move successfully through elementary and secondary school and beyond. In health and physical education, students will learn the skills needed to be successful in life as active, healthy, and socially responsible citizens.

A large circle is outlined in maroon with the words “Healthy Active Living” at the top. In the centre of the circle is a depiction of a person running, with the words “Physical Literacy” on the left and “Health Literacy” on the right. Around the person, clockwise from the bottom, are listed the four strands of the curriculum – “SEL Skills”, “Active Living”, “Movement Competence”, and “Healthy Living” – along with the subgroups for each strand. Outside these is another layer of the circle, outlined in grey, listing the SEL skills clockwise from bottom left: Emotions, Coping, Motivation, Relationships, Self, and Thinking. All of the above are encompassed by the circle layer representing “Healthy Active Living”. Outside the circle is a label that reads “SEL skills: Social-emotional learning skills”.

The health and physical education curriculum promotes important educational values and goals that support the development of character. These include striving to achieve one’s personal best, equity and fair play, respect for diversity, sensitivity and respect for individual requirements and needs, and good health and well-being. These values are reinforced in other curriculum areas, as well as by society itself. Working together, schools and communities can be powerful allies in motivating students to achieve their potential and lead healthy, active lives.

The content and the setting of learning in health and physical education make it unique in a student’s school experience. Students are given opportunities to learn by doing. Their experiences in the program can include participating kinesthetically in activities in a gymnasium, in open spaces in the school, and outdoors; working with various types of equipment; working in a variety of group contexts; and discussing topics that have deep personal relevance and meaning. Students have opportunities to learn through creative work, collaboration, and hands-on experiences.