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The Gordon School

Health and wellness

Children learn best when they know how to manage their feelings and personal relationships. Gordon addresses this reality head-on with a social curriculum that begins on day one of a Nursery student’s Gordon journey, a physical education program that prioritizes smart responses to emotional situations, and health classes that begin in third grade.
 

Social and emotional strategies, like any skill, take practice. Gordon students do this work in the classroom, through direct instruction and a multicultural approach to learning that asks students to know themselves well and to consider the perspectives and experiences of others. The result is students who are empowered to self advocate, have open and honest discussions, and make choices that are right for them.

Gordon's proactive approach to health has made it so much easier for me to have healthy, authentic conversations with my children, especially when tricky topics come up.

-Parent of two recent Gordon graduates

What is health and wellness?
Wellness, as defined by the National Institute of Wellness, is the process of becoming aware and making choices towards a more successful existence. This definition of wellness anchors and guides Gordon School’s physical education, health, and digital literacy & citizenship curriculum (adapted from Common Sense Media).  
 
In middle school health classes, the “wellness wheel,” a visual model identifying six interconnected dimensions of personal wellness (social, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, and intellectual), is used to establish common vocabulary among students and new, expanded ways of looking at both personal well-being and societal health issues. 


Middle School Health
The middle school health curriculum is designed to be a four-year journey of self-discovery, growing awareness, and self-reflection. By the conclusion of their eighth grade journey, students will have learned about realistic, attainable goal setting, about the body as a vessel for physical well-being, and about self-responsibility in a range of health topics. The journey through middle school is one that requires continuous negotiation. By raising awareness, equipping students with tools, and reinforcing self-reflection through group work, dynamic discussions, projects, and research, students get to know themselves better and are prepared to express how they feel and determine how to respond to inevitable crossroads throughout their middle school experience.
 
Students are encouraged to tread a path that is right for them, whether that means tip toeing in others’ footsteps at times or stepping boldly in a new direction. The middle school health curriculum does not assign a particular brand or shoe size; it asks only that the footprint children make accurately reflect their own set of values. Students consider their personal experiences with a wide range of health topics. Classes emphasize student participation and generate constant conversations around issues that directly impact the lives of middle school students. These topics include communication, stress management, physical health and well-being, nutritional choices, media literacy, gender and sexuality diversity, and risk behaviors including drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use. Class discussions should feel challenging, yet safe, as they are meant neither to sway nor direct perception, but to encourage continuous reflection and growth through guided inquiry.


Physical education, health and wellness
Students in Nursery through eighth grade participate in physical education classes that encourage students to explore and expand their physical capabilities and skills. The Nelson Field House features a regulation-size basketball court with adjustable hoops for all ages and abilities, and can accommodate three badminton courts and two volleyball courts. The Engle Family Athletic Field provides space for several classes to occur side-by-side, and the remainder of Gordon’s twelve-acre campus can also be used.

Throughout the physical education program, the values of team play, self-esteem, physical exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are emphasized. The optional after-school competitive sports program for Middle School students includes field hockey, soccer, cross-country running, basketball, tennis and lacrosse. Students graduate with an understanding of sportsmanship, teamwork and competition, and are prepared to compete at the high school level.