When children start going to school, they get exposed to different bacteria (both good and bad) in the environment. Some get ill while others power through the day. Parents wonder how they can strengthen their children’s health. Elite Preschool shares some tips on how to keep your child from getting sick at school. [Read more…]
“Invest in Yourself – Buy Nutrition” was the theme for the first National Nutrition Month. It was created in 1973 by the American Dietetic Association (ADA). The ADA is known now as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. It actually started as a week long to begin with, but has expanded to a full month to reach more people.
This month of awareness is meant to help everyone focus on the many benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, of which nutrition plays a key part.
There are a lot of ways to celebrate National Nutrition Month both at home and at school. Looking for the best way to help the information be effective and stick? Make it fun!
Here are a few ideas to help you get started.:
Create a theme for each week which focuses on a particular aspect of a healthy lifestyle.
Week One – MyPlate – what it is and how it can help you eat healthy food
Week Two – Why choose whole grains?
Week Three – How to read nutrition labels
Week Four – Get moving every day!
Supermarket scavenger hunt
Take a class field trip to the local supermarket (or parents, take your kids shopping with you) and make a game out of finding healthy food choices.
Using an “I spy” type of game, give the kids clues about the food you’re talking about.
For example, you could say, “I spy something orange, it grows in the ground and is a bunny’s favorite food”.
Or, “I see something that’s bright red, grows on a tree and is delicious in a pie.”
Another way to have fun learning about nutrition? Have the older kids come up with their own clues that they can then share with the younger ones!
Make your own plate
Using MyPlate as a reference, give each child three paper plates. Cut out images of food from magazines, or use some grocery ads. Ask them to put together three healthy meals (e.g. breakfast, lunch and dinner).
Once they’ve completed their meals, discuss the reasons why they chose the foods they did. When applicable, ask them what would have been a better option. Discuss portion size too!
Combine efforts where possible. Get the entire school or family involved in supporting your efforts. One way is to coordinate what you teach in the classroom – or at home – with the school nutrition staff.
In the cafeteria, focus on a healthy food choice each day. Hang up posters showing a particular food item. Include the nutritional benefits, and show suggestions on how to serve the food.
At home, use a new food each week – or several times per week – in your family meals to expand your child’s palate. This helps open up discussions about why some foods are healthier choices than others.
Note: The school’s website, social media, newsletters and morning announcements provide wonderful opportunities to share information and reminders about what makes a healthy food choice.
Think about people in your network who can add to the conversation about nutrition. Know a local chef? Ask them to come in and discuss how they prepare foods for their clients. A physician or a personal trainer can discuss the impact of eating foods that give you energy.
Partner with the local library to provide nutritional education opportunities through story time events, coloring contests and/or activity sheets for kids.
Get kids involved in a food donation campaign to your local food pantry or shelter.
Put together a lesson plan discussing the science behind baking. Discuss what ingredients are needed, why they’re needed and what happens when they’re used.
Classroom and/or school vegetable projects. Have kids choose their favorite vegetable, and plant the seed in a small container. Have them take it home with them at the end of the school year so that they can plant it somewhere at home (assuming the season is right for planting!)
As you can see there are a lot of ways you can drive home the importance of a healthy lifestyle, while making it fun and memorable.
February is National Snack Food Month. This is the perfect opportunity to show your kids how healthy snacks are the best snacks for their growing minds and bodies!
Let’s face it, kids aren’t always enthusiastic about healthy eating.
But both parents and educators know the more interested and involved a kid is with what they’re trying to do, the more enthusiastic and engaged they’ll be.
This makes for easy teaching and better retention – a win-win for kids and the ones teaching them!
And it is possible to get them interested in trying new foods – if you make “fun” the name of the game!
They’re watching you
Like it or not, your kids are always watching what you do.
If they see Mom and Dad choose – and enjoy – healthy foods and beverages, they may be more open to trying something new.
Focus on the food’s benefits
Talk about the benefits of the food on your child’s plate, not the fact that it’s “healthy”. The idea that something is “healthy” is a distant concept for a child, especially young children. Tell them something like “the cheese will give you strong muscles” or “make you powerful”, or whatever phrase you think will appeal to your child.
If they have a favorite superhero or sports figure, try to find a way to tie their attributes (e.g. strength, speed, etc.) to the benefit of eating the food.
Think color, crunch, and healthy fats.
Make the food as appealing to the eye as possible:
- combine different colors
- use different cuts (e.g. round disks vs thin strips)
- try different flavors (mozzarella, cheddar)
- cut and/or arrange into fun shapes
Make it a game
Take the kids grocery shopping. Ask them to help find vegetables and fruits in every color of the rainbow.
Once you’re home, have them help you prepare the foods for quick snacking options throughout the week. Bagging their own portions helps them feel more involved.
Let them decide
To get kids more excited about eating healthy foods give them several healthy choices for at least one of their meals.
For example, if it’s lunch time, let them choose among options such as pitas, wraps or English muffins made with whole grains. Offer lean ham, turkey or chicken and low fat cheese slices for the filling.
Let them help
Research has shown that kids who spend time in the kitchen will choose a wider variety of foods and tend towards decisions which are healthier.
Give your kids age appropriate tasks in the kitchen to expose them to all of the aspects of their food preparation. When possible, let them put together their own meals as they’re much more likely to eat their own creations!
Research has shown that it takes as many as 15 tries before a kid will try a new food. So if they turn their nose up at a new food, keep introducing it and eventually they will give it a try. Even if they don’t like it the first time they try it, over time their taste buds develop and change. They may grow to like it.
There are thousands of great, healthy snack ideas for kids. Here are just a few:
- “Ants on a log” (celery filled with peanut butter and raisins)
- Fresh or canned fruit (canned in 100% juice) served with low fat yogurt
- Low-fat cheese sticks or cubes
- Whole grain crackers or rice cakes topped with peanut butter or thin cheese slices
- Popcorn (air-popped)
- Quesadillas (whole wheat tortilla stuffed with low-fat melted cheese)
- Baked tortilla chips
- Whole wheat pita bread with hummus
- Fresh fruit
- Homemade trail mix (portioned)
Set the rules
Give them beverage choices such as water, low-fat milk or 100% fruit juice (portioned) to keep them hydrated. Require they ask before they grab a snack.
To promote mindful eating, insist that snacks be eaten at the table or in the kitchen, not in front of the TV or computer.
Getting kids interested in eating healthy foods isn’t always easy, but it is always worth the effort!
August is National Eye Exam Month, it is also the month most kids get ready to go back to school. With both things in mind, getting a comprehensive eye exam should be on your back-to-school checklist.
As a child’s body grows, their eyes go through changes. Sometimes, these changes are gradual. So gradual, that the child gets used to the change without noticing it. Your child may not have any problems with blurry vision or headaches. An annual back to school eye exam will ensure your child’s health, development and school performance. In the spirit of National Eye Exam Month. Here is how eye health affects your child.
The most obvious reason to have an annual exam is to ensure your child can do well in school. If your child cannot see at a distance, they will miss out on critical information presented on a board or screen. For kids who cannot see things close up, reading and written assignments become a challenge.
You may only detect a problem when your child’s grades start to slip. Having an annual exam will detect eye issues before school even starts. It should become a normal part of your back-to-school routine.
What is NCAPM All About?
April of 2017 marks the 34th year of National Child Abuse Prevention Month (NCAPM), a time dedicated to raising awareness of this devastating social issue and ending child abuse once and for all.
Since 1983, this month has been a time for communities to have a dialogue about the ways to not only stop the abuse of children, but providing education and resources for families and young adults to make sure that the abuse and neglect of children doesn’t carry on for even one more generation.
What the Statistics Say (And What they Don’t Say)
Are the numbers of abuse victims still high enough to warrant a month of awareness and advocacy? Sadly, the answer remains an absolute “yes”.
Despite what you might think, America still has a huge abuse and neglect problem. Current statistics report a staggering 3 million children a year who deal with some form of abuse. Sadly, these are just the cases that are reported; we will likely never know the true statistics.
This is one of the worst rates of abuse in any industrialized nation. The time has come to say, “Enough!” We can do better, which is why each April we renew our promise to the children of America.
Time Can’t Heal All Wounds: Ongoing Symptoms of Abuse
Abuse would be bad enough if the hurting ended with sores and bruises, but abuse creates many scars that do not manifest until later in life (often manifesting in dangerously rebellious teenage or young adult behavior).
Over time, the young victims of abuse may also be affected by the following issues:
- Increased tendency towards drug and alcohol abuse
- Serious depression, including suicide attempts
- Higher instances of “risk-seeking” behavior, such as multiple sexual partners, and other unsafe sexual practices
- An almost 80% instance of some type of psychological disorder
The list of effects is startling, but what is most unacceptable are the nearly 1,600 children who died as a result of abuse last year. Until that number reaches zero, the NCAPM will advocate and raise awareness of these issues affecting countless American families.
History of the NCAPM
Did you know that the first specific laws regarding child abuse were only signed in 1974? While we’ve certainly come a long way since then, there is still a social stigma and problem of reportage and awareness that we need to deal with as a nation.
What started as a single week of awareness in 1982 became a full-fledged month of action starting in 1983, and the events and actions have inspired the creation of new laws and statutes that aim to eliminate harm to innocent and vulnerable children.
Whether in your own community, online, or by joining a larger march or event somewhere near you, you can become part of the NCAPM’s history this April–don’t wait until next year.
Ideas to Get Involved
There are many ways you can participate in this nationwide awareness month. Activities can be simple:
- Organizing a block party or “meet and greet” with your neighbors
- Attending parent meetings at your children’s school
- Finding city or government-organized events for NCAPM
Or, you can organize with other parents and local families to put on bigger events, such as:
- Running for local office or a PTA board
- Attending and speaking at local government meetings (such as city council)
- Organizing letter-writing campaigns and petitions
Keep in mind, these are just a few ideas. Be creative and think about new and interesting ways that you can help children and families who have been affected by neglect and/or abuse.
Moving Our Communities and Families Forward
Whether you visit the official NCAPM website (provided by the government’s Child Welfare Agency) or you find local events to raise awareness, the important thing is to get involved. It’s also important to remember that April is only the beginning–staying vigilant and engaged in your family and community throughout the year is the best defense we have against future abuse and neglect.
For too long, the victims and families who have suffered from abuse and neglect have been silent. April is a time for these voices to be heard, loud and clear. Now is the time–take a stand against abuse and neglect!