A friend of mine asked me about health curriculum for homeschooling last night, so I thought I'd write this post. I think that a lot of homeschoolers find themselves in the same pickle I've been in at times. In covering all of the essentials, the extras like Health and Art (which are required in our state) sometimes seem like extra burdens. I know this is why I use a textbook--it holds me accountable to the material. I'm not as diligent with unit studies at this point in my life as I wish I was. It is my weakness. If I planned the units ahead of time during summer or winter break, I might have greater success though. We all know ourselves. This is something I've known about myself.
I'm a textbook kind of person at this point in my life so it's been easier for me to use a health textbook. I did find one that I like a lot (and that my kids enjoy reading). It's Harcourt Health and Fitness (grades K-6). The K curriculum was the only one that was expensive (via Ebay for $40). There's a textbook and a workbook. For the text and workbook (used) on Amazon, first grade is only $8-9 (incl. shipping). So, it's affordable and the workbooks are reproducible.
In kindergarten, I originally tried Horizons' health curriculum. It was written for a classroom setting and was way too much work for kindergarten (for my daughter and for me).
Another way to teach health is to teach it the way many people teach art. Teach one or two units each year to all of your children at once. Here are the basic health topics in the curriculum I use: taking care of yourself, food pyramid/healthy eating, exercise, keeping safe, emergency safety, preventing illness, medicines and other drugs, and smoking and alcohol. I tried to find a homeschool curriculum online, but sometimes the web is overwhelming and I still can't find what I want. So, if you want to do a unit study, order one of the Harcourt books and use it as a guide to design a unit. It will help you know what to teach your children. I use a curriculum, because I realized that there is a lot more to health than meets the eye (ie. helping your children understand advertising and being a healthy consumer). What does it look like to teach a unit?
Choose a topic and set your learning goals.
Make an outline of the information/lessons you want your children to learn about the topic.
Choose a few learning activities to help your children learn. Here's a page with a great list of learning activities to choose from.
I do think all of the topics I listed for health are important. So, I'd divide them up over a few years or keep a list on hand of what I want them to know and talk to them about these topics as we're going through the year in addition to the specific topics chosen for that year.
I suspect this is what I will do when my children are in 7th and 8th--design a research project (or two) for them on one or more of the health topics I mentioned earlier.