Health education is critical for our students. This is because health affects every aspect of our students lives. Everything we talk about comes back to what we call the 6 dimensions of health. We are going to discuss what each of these dimensions are and different ways or ideas to teach each to students.
Now with the 6 dimensions of health there is some discrepency between what are the actual 6 dimensions of health. Some say that there could even be up to eight different dimensions. These would be, physical, emotional, spiritual, social, occupational, intellectual, environmental and financial. We are going to dive into all of these sections throughout this article.
I believe that the dimensions of health are the foundation of what we do in health education because everything we teach all connects back to this. We as educators teach to standards and skills but, everything comes back to these concepts.
The physical dimension relates to our physical bodies health. If you are feeling good and are healthy with your weight, hormones and anything related to that is physical health. I notice that when most people talk about health we are usually talking about our physical health. Most students know what physical health is. It is still important to discuss and make sure students realize that our physical bodies change over time.
This part of our dimensions is sometimes also called our mental dimension. This relates to anything related to a persons mental health state. This is the thoughts in our head and how we process the world. This dimension will fluctuate due to what is happening in the individuals life and the world. Our emotional health can be influenced by our spiritual health and social health along with just the world around us.
When people hear about the spiritual dimension everyone usually jumps to religion. Now, this can be part of this dimension. This dimension does relate to your sense of purpose and belonging. It tackles the internal questions of what am I supposed to be doing and why am I here. These are big questions for our students to tackle but, we know they are tackling them. I remember being in middle school and high school and tackling these questions. I believe we never really stop questioning these things. This dimension can relate to the emotional health dimension because these are questions we process internally. We do separate them out though.
The social dimension relates to being with people and how we interact and help out others. This can be our friendships, relationships, and any other way we interact with others. If we are in unhealthy relationships with friends or a significant other that can directly affect how we are doing in our mental health.
This dimension focuses on your career. For us educators, that is our teaching while for our students is it school. This area of health focuses on if the job is healthy for you but also if it is taking up too much of your time. In society, we can get sucked up with spending lots of time with work and letting take over a lot of who we are.
This dimension focuses on the creative and mental learning parts of who we are. These activities stimulate the brain. This can be anything like blog writing, reading or even puzzles. This can relate also to school work for our students! We as people want to keep learning and keeping our brains stimulated so then we stay sharp and aware. Plus, we as educators want to teach our students to never stop learning.
Environmental health relates to nature and the world around you and how it impacts you. This can be anything related to the water and air quality where you live, recycling, access to parks and areas to walk or ride a bike. Without access to sidewalks or parks, you do not have a safe place to go on walks or runs or even let kids play. The environment around you can affect your physical health greatly. For example, if there is air pollution where you live, those hazards can get into your own body with just doing simple tasks.
The financial dimension relates to a persons financial status. This dimension usually isn’t on a dimension wheel but, a lot of people do add this because it can affect a lot of the other dimensions. If there is a lot of financial stress, it can make your mental health go down and maybe even your physical health. This dimension is important but sometimes not something we typically cover.
One big thing I believe to be one of the most important things related to the dimensions of health is making sure they are balanced. If one is getting too much focus or is not doing well then all the other ones are out of balance. Self care is a really big topic right now in social media in society which is awesome but we as health educators need to teach our students what that should look like.
Ideas for Instruction
Personally, I believe we should be teaching this model at the start of a health education class. This can be at the start of the semester or school year depending on how long the health education classes last. I think we can really start diving into this model in middle school and high school even though does impact our younger students. I personally find educators focus on the first 6 on the list above along with the picture. While I do think that’s good because you can tie in so many units and standards into these areas which are required in our curriculum. I do think we need to discuss environmental and financial health, especially at the high school level.
My first idea would be to let your students explore each of these areas online. You can work on accessing information with this. I would get in front of my students and give them a quick rundown of what these dimensions are and then have them research each of them and different aspects in each. You can do this in groups and each group has a dimension to research and then they share it with the class. While you could also have them research independently about each dimension. You can then have a discussion as a class on what effects each dimension and what it is. For example, for physical health, I explained what it is above. While the things that affect physical health is the food we eat, exercising, our weight, flexibility, and much more.
You can also do an individual quiz to see where on the wellness wheel (another name for the dimensions of health) they are doing well and where they need to improve. There’s this pre-made quiz from Princeton which you can print off for your students or you can make your own. I firmly believe that this part should be kept to the student because I find they can be more honest with themselves. You can then discuss maybe what surprised them in the questions or their results. I think this could be an awesome way to get to know your students but for them to also know you. At this moment you can be vulnerable and say something maybe you struggle within your life that you are ok with sharing. For me, I struggle to balance work and family life. I love to be getting stuff done and sometimes it can be hard to put it down. Throughout the class time once you have taught this you will be able to always point back to the dimensions of health.
How do you teach the dimensions of health? What is the most important for you for your students! Make sure you subscribe to my blog below to keep up to date with my blog!