Healthy Schools Research - Phase II

Findings from Surveys of Parents, Teachers, and Administrators

Two girls smiling, drawing with crayons.

When schools use a “whole child” approach to learning that promotes students’ social, emotional, physical, mental, and academic development, good health can go hand-in-hand with success in school and life.

The Issue

To understand what would motivate parents, teachers, principals, district leaders, and local school board members to prioritize healthy school environments that focus on a “whole child” approach, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation supported a multi-phase public opinion study conducted by Edge Research and GMMB.

Key Findings

  • A “whole child” approach is a priority for parents, teachers, and school leaders. These audiences also prioritize teaching “life skills,” such as self-control, kindness, teamwork, and problem-solving to help them become well-rounded adults who can succeed in the real world.

  • A majority of those surveyed believe that healthy school programs can lead to great academic achievement as well as students who are more engaged in their learning, better prepared for the real world, and mentally healthier.

  • There is broad support for systemic solutions, but audiences recognize potential barriers, such as the need for more training for teachers, lack of parental engagement, and limited school resources.

  • Principals are seen as the primary decision-makers when implementing healthy school environments, while school boards and superintendents are viewed as important supporters for funding and systemic integration.


This research provides insights into what motivates parents, teachers, and education stakeholders to prioritize healthy school environments that promote a “whole child” approach to learning. It also tests effective message frames to communicate about how healthy school environments can achieve critical outcomes, which can be helpful for organizations working at the intersection between health and education.

About the Study

This presentation includes research findings from a national survey of early childhood education and K-12 public school parents, early childhood education and K-12 teachers, and school and district administrators.

RWJF Webinar

Healthy Schools Message Research

A webinar presentation features findings that shed light on what stakeholders from parents to district leaders prioritize for their students; what motivates them to support healthy school environments; and what stands in the way.

Listen to the webinar recording