This is an example of a post that did not pass muster for my classroom blog and therefore has been posted on this reflections blog. Sometimes the message is delivered too passionately and families may be offended. I can accept that and appreciate having this space to let it all go!
A big piece of a child’s life calls upon them to practice good habits for wellness. Most of this learning and practice goes on back at home. I was raised in more simple and meager times. Our foundation included healthy food on a daily basis, no dessert except for special occasions, and plenty of exercise. We did not have between meal snacks.
Our parents made sure we were outside of the house playing with friends. This didn’t mean going into a friend’s house because their parents kicked them outdoors as well. As a result, we walked miles and miles every day, not including the 2 mile hike to school and back, which really did feel like it was all uphill both ways.
Now our children lead more passive lives. The kids are not playing outside with neighborhood friends from sun-up to sundown. We protect our children with pads and helmets, and sports are coached and supervised by caring adults. The initiative by the children themselves can get lost here. Will children learn lessons without the close and caring support of an adult? Will they try things out as a feat of daring and learn from it rather than simply worry about whether Mom and Dad will get mad? That takes confidence.
I am trying to instill a personal sense of ownership for wellness but this all too often means I am “interfering” in the actual process. I am directing the child to do the exercises and run the laps. Sure the leader for the day gets to pick the activities but I am issuing the expectations.
You pack the lunch or the child buys the lunch. Do you know what your child is eating from the foods provided? If you have included a sweet dessert, it is probably eaten first. Most of the healthier foods are thrown in the trash. I can’t simply tell the kids to eat the most nutritious things in their lunchbox and save the sweets for later. That is just too high an expectation.
Our cafeteria has few sweet treats now. There are tons of starches in the lunches but the staff are following the national standards for lunch programs. That also means the child must have a veggie or fruit on their tray even though they never eat it, just dump it. It’s the law.
The government is really concerned about the wellness of children. They created this website but it’s easy to miss. Let’s Move!
The primary focus seems to be obesity as that has reached epidemic proportions. Parents in the upper grades can be furious when they get the report from the nurse that their child’s BMI is too high. The BMI number and diagnosis of a problem can be hard to swallow. So is the fact that the child is not able to meet fitness goals because they lack strength, coordination, and stamina. The latter is not reported to parents. If they saw a decline in wellness via a drop in those scores, I’m sure parents would initiate a better family exercise program.
As an educator of the whole child, I take my responsibility very seriously. I will teach the children the facts and we will practice wellness during my watch. All of this can be undone if it is not supported at home as well. There are no real shortcuts to wellness. We need to practice healthy habits all day every day so that the occasional dessert or video game become what they are supposed to be, a treat and not an expectation.