The intersection of love and justice is an important space to hold together with our students. Many of the curricular areas and approaches we have always engaged with in wellness – social justice, healthy communication and consent, decision making, human development and sexuality, community building, healthy relationships, mindfulness, and many more – have a new home in the Love and Justice program.
The elementary school Love and Justice program is delivered through our wellness class. The curriculum covers a range of social, emotional, and health-related topics taught in developmentally appropriate ways. Students learn about identity, human development, building community, and understanding systems through a social justice lens.
In kindergarten through 2nd grade, wellness is taught as an eight-week unit that focuses on the themes of inclusion, gender, diversity, and body autonomy. Students meet weekly to play, listen, explore, and discuss how these topics help us build a healthy community. Third grade Wellness is taught as an eight-week unit that centers around the essential question, “How do we foster respect for ourselves and others?” The 3rd grade wellness curriculum poses this essential question to introduce students to the concepts of diversity, equity, and tolerance. We discuss gender, gender expression, and gender identity through this lens. Students will begin exploring common stereotypes and media messages and brainstorm empowering strategies in order to be agents for change in their communities.
Fourth grade wellness is taught in two units. The first unit focuses on inclusion and asks students to consider the question, “How do we create inclusive communities?” The 4th grade class employs this essential question to explore the concepts of diversity, equity, and tolerance. We discuss gender, gender expression, and gender identity through this lens. Students will also critically examine common stereotypes and media messages and brainstorm empowering strategies in order to be agents for change in their communities. Wellness at Waverly is a continuous curriculum. To that end, the late spring unit of wellness at the 4th grade level will also present introductory lessons on puberty and human sexuality, topics that form the foundation for wellness at the 5th/6th level. Students in 4th grade will learn basic anatomy and physiology, an overview of the hormonal changes of puberty, and how to keep bodies safe and healthy.
The 5th/6th wellness curriculum covers a wide range of social, emotional, and health-related topics, and is taught on a bi-monthly basis throughout the year. The curriculum focuses first on areas of personal responsibility and community building. Students ask the essential questions, “How are we noticing difference? How do we understand our own identities?” We discuss how to form and maintain healthy relationships, consider what it means to be an assertive communicator, and develop strategies for thoughtful decision making. We practice what it means to utilize those skills both at school and at large. From there, we move to a study and discussion of gender, identity and expression. Finally, we synthesize these topics into a unit on human development and sexuality. Students will engage in joyful learning about the physical, cognitive, emotional, and social changes of puberty and the fundamentals of human sexuality. Pride, joy, and respect for our bodies, minds, and hearts are at the core of this curriculum.
The Love and Justice comprehensive sexual education curriculum relies on the work of Advocates for Youth, which is mapped to the National Sexuality Education Standards, covers all 16 topics deemed essential by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is LGBTQ-inclusive, trauma informed, and culturally responsive. The Love and Justice social justice curriculum relies on the work of Teaching Tolerance, whose Social Justice standards inform all curriculum at the elementary school.
In the high school, Love and Justice classes meet by grade level on a weekly basis. Through a social justice lens, and informed by interpersonal neurobiology, the Love and Justice program supports student understanding of self and community. Read more about the high school Love and Justice program here.