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The Connection between Learning and Health

The Connection between Learning and Health

Healthy Kids Learn Better!

The academic success of America’s youth is strongly linked with their health. Health-related factors such as hunger, physical and emotional abuse, trauma, and chronic illness can lead to poor school performance. Health-risk behaviors such as substance use, violence, and physical inactivity are consistently linked to academic failure and often affect students’ school attendance, grades, test scores, and ability to pay attention in class. Healthier Students Are Better Learners: A Missing Link in School Reforms to Close the Achievement GapConnecting Health and Learning is Vital to Student Success: An Overview of Relevant  Research: Colorado Education Initiative, An overview of relevant research connecting health, learning and student success. The Centers for Disease Control has identified be links between health and academics and created key messages for a variety of stakeholders Link Between Health and Academic Achievement.

In turn, academic success is an excellent indicator for the overall well-being of youth and a primary predictor and determinant of adult health outcomes. Leading national education organizations recognize the close relationship between health and education, as well as the need to embed health into the educational environment for all students. 

The following fact sheets and slide presentations present data from the 2015 national Youth Risk Behavior Survey on the association between health-risk behaviors and academic grades:

Academic Grades

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Fact Sheets:

Risk and Protective Factors

Risk and Protective Factors: What Schools Can Do to Build Protective Factors: Lists a number of risk and protective factors that have been identified in relation to child abuse and neglect. Suggests specific actions that school personnel can take to promote protective factors and build resilience in children and families.

Institute of Medicine Risk and Protective Factor Matrix 

The National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments provides a variety of resources to support protective factors in the school