Beginning the Discussion: An Overview of the 2019 Elementary Health and Physical Education Curriculum |

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Beginning the Discussion: An Overview of the 2019 Elementary Health and Physical Education Curriculum

Thursday, November 21, 2019 - 11:08

With the recent release of the 2019 Health and Physical Education (H&PE) elementary curriculum, Ophea is committed to supporting educators through providing professional learning opportunities throughout the 2019/2020 school year.

In October, we hosted English and French webinars to support elementary educators in an online discussion on the 2019 elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum. Together, educators from across Ontario participated in an interactive webinar focusing on:

  • Providing a better understanding of the updates made to the elementary H&PE curriculum
  • Increasing awareness of existing resources designed to support the implementation of the H&PE curriculum
  • Providing a platform for educators to share what supports and resources they need in order to implement the 2019 elementary H&PE curriculum

We would like to thank our co-presenters involved in this webinar:

  • Gail Lalonde is a registered Social Worker who has worked in education for the last 18 years in a variety of roles including as a front line School Social Worker, Mental Health Leader and Supervisor of Professional Support Services. In her current role, Gail is the Director of Learning and Training for School Mental Health Ontario.
  • Tanya Woods is an Instructional Program Leader for K-8 Health & Physical Education with the Halton District School Board and also sits on the Ontario Association for the Support of Physical and Health Educators (OASPHE) executive.  In her current role, she is responsible for all professional development related to the elementary Health & Physical Education curriculum, elementary athletics, safety, well-being and outdoor experiential education.  

View the full webinar on our YouTube channel and read the overview below.  

What's changed? What do I need to know? What supports exist for me, my staff, the school, the parents/guardians?

Within the refreshed vision of the elementary Health & Physical Education curriculum (pg. 6), a focus on both physical and mental health literacy continues to be at the forefront. Schools have always been a place where all students of all abilities have the opportunity to belong and to be active. And for many children and youth today, schools are the only place where they have opportunities for physical activity. This may include developing social and leadership skills in an intramural program, learning a new sport on an organized school team, or even participating in a casual game of 4-square and tag with friends at recess. These are great examples of how a school community can provide a variety of opportunities outside of the curriculum for students to be active.

Let’s take a moment to pause and ponder on what the implementation of a well-planned, inclusive, and high-quality program in Health & Physical Education could look, sound, and feel like...

  • Are the key messages of the H&PE program reflected in your school’s physical and social environment?
  • Do students have opportunities to take part in purposeful kinesthetic experiences that help them learn about their bodies and experience the joy of movement?
  • Is instruction designed to ensure a positive experience in a safe, inclusive, and supportive environment for all students?
  • Are program activities and instruction differentiated to provide all students of all abilities with relevant and engaging learning experiences, so that they can experience success?
  • Does your program integrate learning in health education and learning in physical education, in a way that helps students understand that both are essential for healthy, active living?

Ontario Ministry of Education. (2019). The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education (pg. 57-58). Retrieved from   

It is important to understand that there is a greater focus on social-emotional learning and mental health literacy in the 2019 elementary H&PE curriculum. In the social-emotional learning (SEL) skills, educators will recognize many concepts from the “living skills” of the previous 2015 elementary H&PE curriculum. Some of the skills remain the same; however the entire strand has been updated to reflect a current, evidence-based framework supported by research.

While there are several different models of SEL skills, within an Ontario context and based on the 2016 program review conducted by the Provincial System Support Program at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), SEL skills in the 2019 elementary H&PE curriculum are:

  • Identification and Management of Emotions
  • Stress Management and Coping
  • Positive Motivation and Perseverance
  • Healthy Relationships
  • Self-Awareness and Sense of Identity
  • Critical and Creative Thinking

The 2019 elementary H&PE curriculum recognizes that students may experience a range of emotions that can affect their overall mental health. Through Strand A, students will be provided with opportunities to learn and practice skills related to recognizing and managing emotions and understanding and coping with sources of stress. Students will also learn habits of mind that can lead to a positive outlook in a variety of activities. It is also important for students to build a positive sense of self, along with relationship skills that will also foster a sense of belonging and respect for diversity. Through a variety of settings and contexts, students will also be able to practice critical and creative thinking skills to problem solve and make decisions.

Updates to the elementary Health and Physical Education curriculum included new and enhanced learning on a variety of concepts and topics. For example, the 2019 elementary curriculum includes expectations related to learning in the area of mental health literacy and Social-Emotional Learning skills, concussions (reflecting PPM 158 Concussion Protocols), and. These updates are current to the world we live in today, and the Fundamental Principles of H&PE (found on pg. 9-10 of the curriculum) are the foundation to a curriculum that helps students develop an understanding of what they need as well as supports them in building their capacity in order to make a commitment to lifelong healthy, active living.

Thanks again to all the participants in the webinar for sharing your stories on the importance of your role as a key stakeholder in enabling the discovery of purposeful movement, play, exploration, and learning in H&PE. Together, it is our collective responsibility to support all members in a school community to see themselves in the curriculum as we work in collaboration to promote the healthy development of all students to reach their full potential.

We continue to be committed to supporting you with high quality resources to support your journey. For additional resources please check out:

For information on the upcoming 2019/2020 elementary H&PE curriculum webinar series focus topics, dates, and how to register visit:

Also, stay tuned for more information throughout this school year as Ophea takes a broader and more collaborative approach to support teacher learning including partnering with other conferences, customized school board workshops, and regional training events. Follow us on Twitter and check out our monthly eConnection enewsletters to keep connected on the webinar series and other professional learning offerings from Ophea.

Image: Ontario Ministry of Education. (2019). The Ontario Curriculum Grades 1-8: Health and Physical Education (pg. 8). Retrieved from