Introduction: Health literacy involves understanding health-related information to make educated decisions regarding an individual’s needs. Low health literacy is associated with poorer health outcomes, which can be minimized by early introduction to accurate health information. Currently, elementary schools in Delaware have no health curriculum, leaving students at risk for low health literacy.
Methods: Interviews were conducted with Delaware elementary school teachers to identify a series of topics that would allow students to learn health information via incorporation into existing curriculum. Teachers were divided into focus groups by school and grade level. The resulting discussions were qualitatively analyzed by two independent interviewers and compared for validity.
Results: The themes identified were similar between schools and across grade levels. Main threads that were identified include: How the Body Works, Nutrition & Exercise, Families, and Mental Health, among others. The methods of instruction varied slightly across grade levels, but were similar between schools. Short reading exercises to work on comprehension and grammar were suggested for all age groups. Peer-to-peer teaching from older to younger students was also widely suggested.
Conclusion: The topics identified were as expected, with an emphasis on mental health and nutrition. With the resounding agreement on both themes and methods, future work will include creation of lesson plans and classroom materials, then implementation in the school system. Despite limited interviews, the schools have unique demographic profiles with a wide-range of student needs, thus we are confident that these themes will be sufficient for all Delaware schools and beyond.
Morrell, Kayla and Hughes, Denise, "Identifying Health Topics for Elementary-Aged Children in Delaware" (2021). Phase 1. Paper 10.