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Reflective Journal

Health and Family Life Education (HFLE)

One of the most important aspects of teaching that I now understand is the relevance of

HFLE in the classroom. As a novice teacher I was asked to teach HFLE as substitute subject for

the Dance/Drama teacher on leave. I was given a brief description of what it entailed; and was

required to discuss with the students the importance of health and family. I was under the

impression that these were simply general sessions, and never understood its true importance or

intended impact as these were never explained. These HFLE sessions were terminated after three

weeks, as the Dance/Drama teacher returned. Upon commencement of the Diploma in Education

program, it became quite clear that I was part of the minority group of teachers who did not have

a firm grasp of the importance of HFLE. The introduction of the true concept of HFLE helped

me to understand that the role of the teacher goes beyond subject content delivery; but also

involves the holistic development of the students which prepares them to be meaningful

members of society.

This enhanced understanding of the importance of HFLE helped me to realize that the

school acts as an agent in bridging the gaps that exist between parents and children in addressing

key issues of social and personal development of the child. By extension, it is the teachers

responsibility to be able to interact with students in a meaningful manner and discuss with them:

(i) key principles of personal and social well-being, (ii) means of developing attitudes and skills

for a healthy family life, (iii) health-related knowledge and practices, (iv) responsible decision-

making associated with sexual and social behavior and, (v) the impact of everyday decisions in
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influencing personal development and health at adulthood (UNICEF, EDC, & CARICOM, 2008

Draft).

It has therefore become clear that the HFLE curriculum provides teachers with the

necessary tools to assist in nurturing positive attitudes and behaviors in students. This enables

them to effectively cope with the challenges associated with everyday life; and prepares them for

adulthood. UNICEF, EDC, & CARICOM (2008 Draft) refer to the skills and attitudes gained as

Life Skills. Evidence from research has revealed that these life skills learnt from the HFLE

curriculum has in fact proven to: delay the onset of drug abuse, prevent high-risk sexual

behaviors, facilitate anger management and conflict resolution, improve academic performance

and, promote positive social adjustment (UNICEF, EDC, & CARICOM, 2008 Draft). These

findings further emphasize the importance of the HFLE curriculum in the school system.

This insight into the importance of HFLE to the holistic development of the child has

greater informed me of my responsibility towards my students and their families. When

discussing with the students about their knowledge or experiences, it is important that I respect

their opinions and take time to understand their points of view, whilst positively guiding them in

the right direction. It is also important that I treat their personal issues with full confidentiality;

and make appropriate referrals to guidance councilors and/or social workers where necessary.

With respect to the families, it is important that they are aware of HFLE sessions that may take

place within the classroom; and that it may pertain to sensitive information such as sexuality

and sex health. It is vital to assure parents that such topics will be delivered in a professional

manner while seeking positive child development. As a teacher, I also need to respect parents

decisions if they are not comfortable with delivery of such content to their child, and seek
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alternative means of addressing these issues such as collaborative parent-teacher-student

sessions.

Now that I am better aware of the importance of HFLE and what it entails, I can attempt

to incorporate elements of HFLE topics into the delivery of subject topics which are related. In

doing so, not only will I be able to deliver subject curriculum, but also integrate HFLE so

students can identify relationships between the subject and how it impacts their everyday life or

their development within society. I can also suggest to the administration that our staff

professional development day(s) can be dedicated to informing teachers of the importance of the

HFLE curriculum; and also provide training for effective delivery and/or integration of an HFLE

lesson. I also intend to use elements of HFLE in nurturing my own son as he continues to

develop, thereby providing him with the necessary knowledge, tools, and skills for dealing with

everyday challenges in an ever-changing world.

I hope your Principal sees the importance of HFLE it will also help the staff to understand the

difficulties of the adolescent period. You are probably in the minority for actually teaching a

couple of HFLE classes as a Science teacher. The Elaboration phase of the 5E provides

opportunity for this type of integration.


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Bibliography

UNICEF, EDC, & CARICOM (2008 Draft). Health and Family Life Education Regional

Curriculum Framework for Ages 9-14. Newton, MA: EDC.