Making Connections: Implementation and Integration

Making Connections describes how Puberty: The Wonder Years connects to important health and education initiatives, including the National Health Education Standards, National Sexuality Education Standards, Common Core Standards, Search Institute Developmental Assets, and youth risk behaviors.

Making Connections to the National Health Education Standards

To promote educational achievement for students and improved health in the United States, national standards have been developed to foster health literacy. Health literacy is defined as “the capacity of individuals to obtain, interpret and understand basic health information and services and the competence to use such information and services in ways that enhance health.”

A health literate person has the following characteristics:

  • Critical thinker and problem solver
  • Responsible, productive citizen
  • Self-directed learner
  • Effective communicator

All seven of the national health education standards have been addressed in Puberty: The Wonder Years. Following the title of each standard, an acronym[1] appears in parentheses; these acronyms will be used to identify when one or more standards are addressed by the activities in this curriculum. Read “National Health Education Standards Addressed by PWY 4, 5, 6” to learn more.

  1. Core Concepts (CC): Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention.
  2. Accessing Information (AI): Students will demonstrate the ability to access valid health information and health-promoting products and services.
  3. Self Management (SM): Students will demonstrate the ability to practice health-enhancing behaviors and reduce health risks.
  4. Analyzing Internal and External Influences (INF): Students will analyze the influence of culture, media, technology, and other factors on health.
  5. Interpersonal Communications (IC): Students will demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal communication skills to enhance health.
  6. Decision-Making/Goal-Setting (D/G): Students will demonstrate the ability to use goal-setting and decision-making skills to enhance health.
  7. Advocacy (AV): Students will demonstrate the ability to advocate for personal, family, and community health.

Making Connections to the National Sexuality Education Standards

To build further upon the National Health Education Standards, standards have been set for the teaching of sex education. Developed in 2012 and updated in 2020, the goal of the National Sex Education Standards is to “provide clear, consistent and straightforward guidance on the essential minimum, core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in grades k-12.” Puberty: The Wonder Years 2015 used the 2012 standards as a guide and addresses as many of the standards as feasible in the three-grade span of lessons. Read “National Sexuality Education Standards (2012) Addressed by PWY 4  5, 6” to learn more. The National Sexuality Education Standards have been revised in 2020.

Making Connections to Common Core Standards and Other Academic Curriculum Standards and Benchmarks

The United States Department of Education encourages each state and community to set academic standards for students to improve student performance. Standards define what students should know and be able to do at specific points in their schooling.

More recently, states have begun adopting the Common Core Standards. Puberty: The Wonder Years can help teachers address the academic standards for English Language Arts by having students learn to read, write, and speak while using puberty education as the vehicle.  Read about the ways Puberty: The Wonder Years supports the ELA Common Core Standards for Grade 4, ELA Common Core Standards for Grade 5, and ELA Common Core Standards for Grade 6.

Links to the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets

After years of research and almost 100,000 surveys of students in 6th through 12th grade, the Search Institute has identified 40 developmental assets that are powerful influences on adolescent behavior. The more assets present in a young person’s life, the less likely it is that he or she will be involved in sexual activity, violence, or alcohol and drug use. The presence of assets also increases a student’s success in school, and their ability to maintain good health and defer gratification.

Puberty: The Wonder Years helps educators and families work together to provide young people with the assets that will help them not only avoid early sexual activity, but also be successful in many other ways. Many of the assets that are experienced by the fewest young people, such as positive family communication, caring school climate, parent involvement, adult role models, planning and decision-making, are promoted by participation in the lessons.

Review “Developmental Assets Promoted by Puberty: The Wonder Years Grades 4, 5, 6” for a list of the assets developed by the student and family activities in the Puberty: The Wonder Years. For additional information about the 40 developmental assets, visit the Search Institute website at www.search-institute.org.

Links to the Adolescent Risk Behaviors

Six risk behaviors are most likely to result in adverse outcomes for youth and adults in the United States, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Risk behaviors are often established during childhood or adolescence and extend into adulthood, causing poor health, poor education, and poor social outcomes. These six risk behaviors have become primary targets for health education efforts:

  • Sexual behaviors that contribute to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection
  • Alcohol and other drug use
  • Tobacco use
  • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence
  • Unhealthy dietary behaviors
  • Inadequate physical activity

This curriculum primarily addresses sexual behaviors. However, alcohol and other drug use is a secondary focus because of the relationship between alcohol and other drug use and risky sexual behavior. Another secondary focus is violence because of the interpersonal violence many young people experience in the form of sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault.

As teachers implement Puberty: The Wonder Years, they are not simply teaching about body changes, they are promoting the academic success and physical, social, and emotional health of the whole child…for today and the future.

Making Connections pdf version

[1] These titles and acronyms are used in “Assessment Framework: Assessing Health Literacy,” a health assessment project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). (1998). Assessing health literacy: Assessment framework. Soquel, CA: ToucanEd Publications

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