Healthy studentWe’re back again! Recently I told you about 5 Health tools for school nurses, but nurses aren’t the only ones who care about health, and they’re certainly not the only ones who can positively influence student wellness. So for this round of our Health Tool Kits, we’re going to talk about how a healthy school year can also begin in the classroom.

Before we start, why does health matter in the classroom? The answer: student health and academic performance are closely intertwined. Tying healthy behaviors into the learning process means students will be entirely healthy, body and mind. And we’ll help make that happen by giving teachers five tools for the classroom:

1. Knowledge

Or better yet, understanding. When you know why you feel better after taking a walk, it’s easier - and way more fun - to talk about these habits with kids. My favorite teachers as I was growing up were the ones whose passion was evident, and contagious. Spinach salads and hour-long gym trips aren’t for everyone, so look for manageable ways to be FIT.

Find one activity that you love to do 3-4 times per week (walking, biking, or maybe tennis?)
Invest time in your food. Putting aside a few hours on the weekend can mean delicious and nutritious meals all week long.
Teamwork! Grab a friend, or another teacher, and sign up for events that you can train for together, like a mud race or a colorful 5K.

2. Move it, move it

Everybody hits a point in their day when their eyes get heavy and concentrating on sentence structures turns into rocket science. Keep yourself and your students awake with an exercise break, which can reduce disruptions during normal classroom time, and helps kids see how fun exercising can be. Find inspiration from other schools and exercise programs, or create your own moves!

3. Non-food rewards

A pizza party for reading the most books? An ice cream social to celebrate springtime? These were my absolute favorite things about school, because chowing down on delicious food makes that impossible solar system project almost worth it. But here’s the problem: often times, these foods are less than nutritious, and it teaches food as motivation. Action for Healthy Kids© has put together an extremely helpful resource for teachers to incorporate non-food rewards.

4. Taste-Testing

Kids are picky, and I personally wouldn’t even touch broccoli when I was younger. Or, I would touch it just long enough to hide it in my napkin - sorry, mom! As a teacher, you have the opportunity to expand minds not just academically, but nutritionally as well. Incorporating a taste-test (when kids try new fruits and veggies) with a lesson on local food, or with a biology lesson on taste buds, could be a home run. Use these couple of tips to see what works best in your classroom, and feel free to let the creativity flow!

5. Involving Parents

As a teacher, you’re not responsible for every part of a student’s life, but you’re still a big part of it. By involving parents in healthy goals, it brings the cause full-circle. From encouraging healthy birthday celebrations to creating a class recipe book focused on meeting nutritional needs, parents can aid your efforts, and you may even find yourself inspiring adults, too.

Stay tuned for more health tips for students and parents, and let us know if you’ve incorporated any of these activities in your classroom!

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Topics: Health Trends

Carrie Chandler

Written by Carrie Chandler

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