Creating a Healthy School/ Child Care Environment
As stated in the previous post, what children observe and learn at child care and school are going to affect their future. Or more importantly, any lack is going to result in lacks in their lifestyle habits. These institutions need to implement in their curriculum physical education and health education by trained professionals who can create the age appropriate curriculums for physical and health education (“Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic” 9).
One of the first changes that need to occur is re-implementing physical education in schools for all grades, and requiring physical activity from children in child care (“Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic” 9). The curriculum will include specific amounts of time that each age group is required to have physical activity. This minimum required time does not only need to happen in structured physical education classes (“Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic” 9). By allowing them time to have unstructured time to play they will be more likely to find physical activity that they enjoy and will want to do (Warren and Smalley 9). Another goal is to get them away from sitting in class all day, possibly using technology, and getting them to move around and engage with other children in ways other than classroom learning (Parker et al., 23).
There should be health education every year with an emphasis on nutrition (“Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic” 9). An important way for children to learn about a particular topic is by doing hands on experiences. If schools create a garden, and children utilize it by gardening themselves it will teach them how rewarding eating what they have grown is (Parker et al., 18). Or the school could participate in the Farm to School program, where farms and schools create agreements and the farm provides food for the local school (Parker et al., 15). When students are able to see the farm process and have a garden at a young age it becomes a norm for them to have healthy fresh produce (Parker et al., 15).
School cafeterias need to change and cafeteria cooks need to be trained in cooking healthy (Parker et al., 9). When they are trained to cook for children in a healthy way then they will be able to decide what food to get, and cook options that are healthy for students (Parker et al., 9-10). If the cafeteria provides appealing healthy options to students which include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein with limited access to high calorie snacks the students would be more inclined to eat that for lunch (“Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic” 9).
Just like in the household the teachers and school staff should be modeling healthy behaviors for the children. By setting up wellness policies for the staff they will be role models for the children (“Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic” 9). The school need to work with parents as well, educating them on the importance of the health curriculum being taught in the school (“Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic” 9). Schools need to provide parents with resources that reinforces what is taught in school so they can promote positive health messages at home (“Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic” 9). The next post is exploring another institution that is incorporated into the epidemic in a different way than the household and educational institutions and that is the health care facilities.
Parker, Lynn, Emily Ann Miller, Elena Ovaitt, and Stephen Olson. Alliances for Obesity
Prevention: Finding Common Ground. Washington D.C.: The National Academics Press, 2012. Print.
United States Senate. “Childhood Obesity: Beginning the Dialogue on Reversing the Epidemic.”
U.S. Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 4 March 2010.
Hearing. Web. 1 November 2013.
Warren, Jacob C. and K. Bryant Smalley. “Always the Fat Kid: The Truth About the Enduring
Effects of Childhood Obesity.” New York: Pagrave Macmillan. 2013. Print.
Tags: cafeteria, child, child care, curriculum, farm to schools program, health education, healthy cooking, nutrition, obesity, parents, physical activity, physical education, positive health messages, professionals, required time, school, school gardens, teachers, wellness program