The Growing Healthy curriculum rests on the premise that if children understand how their bodies work, and appreciate a range of factors-biological, social, and environmental that affect their health, they will be more likely to establish healthy habits during this formative period. Input from classrooms across the country enables NCHE - responsible for the management, development, and dissemination of Growing Healthy-to integrate new topics and continually adjust the curriculum to fit America's changing health education needs. Growing Healthy's basic framework and approach, first developed in the 1960's, have endured. The program has reached over 5 million students in more than 15,000 schools in 42 states, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
The basic principle of Growing Healthy is that children will resist the social pressures to smoke, use alcohol or other drugs, or engage in other risk behaviors, if they participate in a comprehensive training that includes several core elements. The core elements are: fundamental knowledge of the biology of the human body; principles of health and wellness; and an understanding of health in the larger context of family, community, and the nation. At the same time, there is recognition of the need to teach students interpersonal skills and strategies for problem solving. Throughout, there is an emphasis on the importance of maximizing opportunities for success, developing a sense of personal efficacy, encouraging cooperative learning skills, and developing critical thinking skills.
Growing Healthy is by definition, a comprehensive health education curriculum incorporating the ten content areas that should be taught at each and every grade level, as established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Comprehensive school health education is a planned, sequential, curriculum in which each lesson builds on a previous one. A comprehensive curriculum is designed to motivate and assist students to maintain and improve their health, enabling them to develop the skills and attitudes necessary for health-related problem solving and informed decision-making. The content areas as taught in Growing Healthy are: