Ten Ways Teachers Can Support Kids’ Nutrition

Ten Ways Teachers Can Support Kids’ Nutrition

Easy Suggestions you can print out and bring to your Child’s school.

  1. Use alternative (non-food) rewards for good behavior (stickers, homework passes, special privileges). Using food as a reward reinforces an unhealthy connection between food and feeling acceptance. Later in life, they may continue the habit of rewarding themselves with food (after a tough exam, or after a long day at work, for example).
  2. Play games as a way to celebrate birthdays and holidays. Classroom games like Jeopardy and Team Hangman promote teamwork and can be curriculum-based. When students bring in their own deck of cards or board games, chances are they’ll be learning valuable skills and will bond with their classmates in the process. (They’ll forget about the cupcakes!)
  3. Send home a list of acceptable snacks to parents at the start of the year. Some parents simply don’t have a clear idea about what is an appropriate school snack. Help set a healthy school-tone early on. Put fresh foods at the top of your list.
  4. Support parents who are fussy about their child’s nutrition. This can be challenging because students today have so many special dietary needs. Do your best to be supportive of the parents and the child. Think of ways the child can be made to feel part of the class, even if he/she must eat differently. Often you can ‘buddy-up’ kids with similar diets.
  5. Praise students when they make good choices, as you do already, but especially concerning food. Anytime you see a child enjoying a fresh fruit or vegetable, point it out as a smart choice on their part. Soon students will be begging their parents to send them with something fresh to eat, too. (This sounds unbelievable, but it does happen!)
  6. Promote school events that foster good nutrition (like the ‘Healthy, Homemade Bake Sale’, or ‘Fresh Fruit Fridays’). Your enthusiasm for the event will rub-off and spark greater student & parental participation.
  7. Be a good role-model. If you must drink coffee/soda, or eat a bag of chips, do so in the privacy of the teacher’s lounge. You wouldn’t model other unhealthful behaviors (like smoking) in front of your students; food choices are no different. (Sorry, it’s hard to hear, but it’s true!) Honestly, teaching can be stressful. Take care of your body’s nutritional needs too!
  8. Incorporate nutrition education into your existing curriculum. In Math class, solve problems using nutritional facts. In Reading class, read about farmers. In Science class, grow herbs on the windowsill. Send a message that food is important!
  9. Allow kids to drink water, plenty of water, without asking. Children who are well-hydrated think better. Drinking water is like oiling your brain’s engine! Consider allowing small, reusable water bottles in class.
  10. Allow kids to use the bathroom whenever they ask. “Holding it in” is unhealthy and can lead to other problems (like encopresis and urinary tract infections). Proper (ie. frequent) elimination is the ‘tail end’ of good nutrition!