Teaching Health Literacy in Schools

Teaching Health Literacy in Schools

Both teachers and health professionals alike have an important job to do when it comes to teaching health literacy to youth. Not only is it important for students to participate in P.E. and attend health classes, but they must also learn the importance of community engagement, all forms of communication, health ethics, and diversity, among many other attributes for their future health and lives.
The Health Literacy Solutions Center includes multiple resources that may assist teachers and health professionals in teaching students at a young age the importance of being aware of all health-related areas.

Skills and Knowledge to Educate Students

Community Engagement

  • Involve community health personnel in the learning aspects of health literacy.
  • Example(s): Students receiving a health literacy specialist guest in the classroom. A health literacy specialist focuses on educating the public regarding health-related matters. The professional in this field may touch on healthcare services, expenses, and other issues regarding health literacy.


  • Students must learn all aspects of communication within health literacy.
  • The wide range of print materials, web content, audio, visual, presentations, etc. regarding health literacy are important in spreading messages to the appropriate audiences.
  • Example(s): Brochures, textbooks, websites, podcasts, and webinars.


  • Create activities, worksheets, and health-related content into curriculums.
  • Use plain terms when explaining extensive and difficult health literacy information.
  • When generating content, keep the students’ ages in mind. Appropriate content will depend on the age and will be most beneficial for students to learn and retain information.
  • Example(s): Math educators teach students how to calculate health insurance deductibles and the difference between network options.


  • Ethics within the health field involves a multitude of important attributes regarding the relationship between patient and medical personnel.
  • A few health literacy ethic characteristics include being transparent regarding health recommendations, using measured references, and including all the facts.
  • Example(s): HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), which involves the privacy and safety of sensitive medical information.

Organizational Systems and Policies

  • Health organizations put policies into place as health literacy continues to grow and change.
  • Organizations create a leadership role within the health literacy field and research qualitative and quantitative information within that organization for a clear understanding of health literacy.
  • Example(s): The importance of why polices are in place for students to attend physical education classes in school.

Diversity Within Public Health

  • The diversity within the public health domain is wide-ranging.
  • From languages spoken to diverse cultures, health literacy needs to be accessible to everyone.
  • Example(s): The choice of different languages given, such as English and Spanish, through medical phone lines or directions on how to take prescriptions.

Using the Classroom and Internet to Teach Children Health Literacy

Students already do homework and classwork online. Not only can teachers add health to their curriculums, but the internet could also be a way of gaining student attention and interest.
There are already web portals that hold all health information from doctors, pharmacists, immunization records, etc. The ability for children to work up to being able to use this resource to its full advantage is beneficial for their own health education in the future.
Using academic research to achieve results within the classroom will give students the resources they need in the future for advanced health literacy in the long term.