NHS Program of Studies: Human Ecology

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The Human Ecology program is designed to help students:

  1. Increase their understanding of their own attributes, values and attitudes, and how these impact their lives;
  2. Increase their understanding of, and respect for, the attributes, values and attitudes of others;
  3. Increase their self-reliance and decrease their dependence on outside influences;
  4. Learn and develop skills that contribute to health enhancing behaviors over the lifetime;
  5. Gain knowledge about, and respect for, mankind and his total

Many different topics are covered in the Human Ecology Program, drawn from: the NYS syllabus, the new NYS Guidance Document, parents’ recommendations and students.

Using a skills-based approach outlined in the NYS Guidance Document, students are encouraged to develop their capacity to make the best possible health decisions. The skills developed and reinforced in this program include the overarching skills of Self-Management and Relationship Management. Through these areas the skills of Stress Management, Communication, Planning and Goal Setting, and Decision Making are taught and practiced.
Students learn to apply these skills in such areas as alcohol and substance abuse, DWI and DWAI laws, suicide prevention, peaceful resolutions of conflicts, managing stress, coping with death, marriage, parenting, divorce, love, sexuality, childbirth, consumer protection, obtaining access to the health care system, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), advertising, teenage pregnancy, prejudice, smoking, and first aid. This course also satisfies the New York State requirement for parenting education at the secondary level. Students are expected to learn how to work cooperatively in order to discuss and evaluate solutions to modern health issues.

Parents can request that their children be allowed to “opt out” of the human sexuality portion of any Human Ecology course. To request this option, parents should secure the “Opt Out Form” and submit it in a timely fashion.

New York State requires that all students receive HIV/AIDS instruction in school, including the nature of HIV/AIDS, the methods of transmission, and the methods of prevention. New York State permits parents to elect to teach their children the methods of prevention of an HIV infection outside of school, provided parents sign a form agreeing to give that instruction. Forms for excusing children from in-school instruction are available through the assistant superintendent for educational programs and instruction. Forms must be filed with the assistant superintendent at least eight days in advance for students to be excused from this portion of the HIV curriculum. The district director of health education or students’ teachers can answer questions about HIV/AIDS instruction.

As part of the Human Ecology Curriculum, students will receive CPR education in order to fulfill graduation requirements.


1 semester, 1/2 credit, Grades 11-12

This course will use classroom discussion to help students use the information obtained from books, articles, consultants, the media, classmates and videos in their preparation for making health decisions. This course explores how knowledge, feelings and health skills contribute to health behaviors. Students use classroom activities and learn a variety of skills to convey, receive and exchange information, thoughts and feelings, clearly and effectively. Students will have the opportunity to clarify their own values and increase their understanding of, and interaction with, others. Students receive functional knowledge based on the priority risk behaviors outlined by the United States Centers for Disease Control, NYS Commissioner’s Regulations, health and peer reviewed research, and scientifically researched-based programs and curricula. The functional knowledge areas include: Physical Activity and Nutrition, HIV/AIDS, Sexual Risk, Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs, Family Life/Sexual Health, Unintentional Injury, Violence Prevention and Parenting Education.

In addition to the NY State Guidance Document, the Niskayuna School District has Performance Standards for each of the content areas covered in this course. These are available through the office of the district director of health education. This course fulfills the New York State Health, Drug Education and Parenting Education requirements. This course explores how knowledge, feelings and health skills contribute to health behaviors. Students in this class use classroom activities to practice a variety of skills to convey, receive and exchange information, thoughts and feelings clearly and effectively. Due to the mature nature of the subjects covered in the course, students are required to take this course during their junior year or senior year.