MENDHAM, NJ — Ahead of the next school year, school officials shared some updates on the Mendham Township Middle School Physical Education/Health Curriculum.
In recent months, the updated New Jersey Health and Physical Education Standards have been a hot topic. Some parents have expressed concern that the new standards include “age-inappropriate” content, while others have praised them for being “inclusive” of the LGBTQ+ community.
At a recent Board of Education meeting, school officials announced that the middle school curriculum has been revised for the upcoming school year.
After being introduced in 2014, the health and physical education guidelines were revised in 2020 as part of the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). Certain lessons must be taught by the end of grades two, five, eight, and twelve, according to the standards.
According to the health and physical education guidelines, children should learn statements like “Individuals enjoy different activities and grow at different rates” and “All living things may have the capacity to reproduce” in second grade or earlier. Students should be taught by the end of fifth grade that “puberty is a time of physical, social, and emotional changes” and that “pregnancy can be achieved through a variety of methods.”
The updated curriculum adopted by Mendham covers topics such as personal safety, social and emotional health, sexual health, nutrition, and family life, but individual lessons are tailored to each age group.
For example, in fifth grade, students learn about sexual abuse and violence in teen dating, but in sixth grade, they also learn about sexting, online safety, and sextortion.
Topics such as social and sexual health are not covered in depth until eighth grade when topics such as comparing the differences between healthy and unhealthy romantic and platonic relationships and identifying factors that are important in deciding when to engage in sexual behaviors are covered.
The parent opt-out sheets are available for all grade levels and are included in the curriculum folder on the Mendham Township School District website. School officials also stated that a letter would be sent to all households prior to the class to inform parents of the upcoming material.
The letter will also include a link to the health video that will be shown in the lessons so that parents can watch it first.
Throughout the school year, boys and girls will be separated by grade level for specific health units.
Mendham Township School District also recently implemented a new social-emotional learning (SEL) curriculum for all students in grades PK through 4. Mendham Township’s elementary school curriculum units will be divided into sections like “self-awareness,” “self-management,” “social awareness,” “responsible decision-making,” and “relationship skills.”
According to school officials, by promoting social and emotional learning, Mendham Township Elementary School hopes to improve the development of positive school climates and the healthy development of students.
To view the full updated middle school physical education/health curriculum, click here.