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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Fundamental Principles in Health and Physical Education

The health and physical education curriculum from Grade 1 to Grade 12 is founded on the following principles.

1. Health and physical education programs are most effective when they are delivered in healthy schools and when students’ learning is supported by school staff, families, and communities.

When students see the concepts they are learning in health and physical education reflected and reinforced through healthy-school policies and healthy practices in their families and communities, their learning is validated and reinforced. Students are then more likely to adopt healthy active living practices and maintain them throughout their lives.

2. Physical activity is the key vehicle for student learning.

Health and physical education offers students a unique opportunity for kinesthetic learning – they learn about healthy, active living primarily by “doing”, that is, through physical activity. In health and physical education, students discover the joy of movement, learn about their bodies, and develop physical and cognitive skills that will contribute to their lifelong health and well-being.

3. Physical and emotional safety is a precondition for effective learning in health and physical education.

Students learn best in an environment that is physically and emotionally safe. In health and physical education, students are learning new skills and participating in a physical environment where there is inherent risk. They are learning in a public space where others can see them explore, learn, succeed, and make mistakes. They discuss health topics that have implications for their personal health and well-being. It is critical that teachers provide a physically and emotionally safe environment for learning by emphasizing the importance of safety in physical activity, treating students with respect at all times, being sensitive to individual differences, following all board safety guidelines, and providing an inclusive learning environment that recognizes and respects the diversity of all students and accommodates individual strengths, needs, and interests.

4. Learning in health and physical education is student-centred and skill-based.

Learning in health and physical education should be directly connected to the needs and abilities of individual students. The curriculum expectations are age-related but not age-dependent – the readiness of students to learn will depend on their individual physical and emotional development. The learning in all strands is focused on individual skill development for healthy, active living, supported by knowledge of content and conceptual understanding. In order to reach their full potential, students need to receive progressive instruction and constructive feedback, as well as numerous opportunities to practise, reflect, and learn experientially in a safe environment.

5. Learning in health and physical education is balanced, integrated, and connected to real life.

Health and physical education is balanced in that it addresses both the physical and cognitive needs of students. It also addresses their emotional and social needs. It is important for teachers to provide adequate time and resources for all aspects of the program, and not to allow any one aspect to be emphasized at the expense of others. Learning in health and physical education is integrated because the connections between the various elements of the program – social-emotional learning skills, active living, movement competence, and healthy living – are always recognized. Understanding these connections provides the foundation for health and physical literacy, overall mental health and well-being, and lifelong healthy, active living. Finally, health and physical education is highly relevant to students’ present and future lives in a complex, global, technology-rich, and rapidly changing world, and students need to understand this if they are to develop the comprehension, commitment, and capacity to participate in and promote healthy, active living.