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Seven Ways Schools Can Support Health & Wellness

It’s that time of year again where we blinked and summer is officially over. School buses are out and about and the school supplies aisles at Target are picked clean. In the back to school spirit, I have put together seven ways schools can support health and wellness:

1. Active lessons. Kids need to get up and move! As adults we can’t sit at our desk for hours on end and we shouldn’t expect kids to either. There are so many ways teachers can take a non-active assignment like a worksheet and turn it into an active lesson. Instead of a worksheet to learn subtraction, why not play a game of subtraction tag?! Sound like something you want to implement? Check out this fantastic resource of active lessons from Greater Richmond Fit4Kids.

2. Healthy fundraisers.  The school bake sale is becoming a thing of the past. Schools can implement physical activity-based fundraisers such as color runs, 5ks, or fun runs. Schools can also implement healthy food fundraisers such as an annual citrus fruit sale like the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Selling items with a school logo such as t-shirts, water bottles, or even socks can also be successful!

3. Adequate time for meals. Meal times at school seem a lot more like a sprint than a marathon. Allowing children enough time to consume school meals is important in ensuring children are well nourished and ready to learn.  Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that kids who had less than 20 minutes to eat lunch, consumed less food and threw away more food than their peers who had 25 minutes or more to eat.

4. Encourage water consumption! Constipation in children is a common problem. It can lead to discomfort and even more severe complications such as fever, vomiting, abdominal swelling, and weight loss just to name a few. One of the best ways to avoid constipation is to increase the amount of liquids consumed. Dehydration can also impair focus. Ensure each child has access to water either through a water fountain or their own reusable water bottle!

5. Don’t use physical activity as a punishment.  Physical activity such as running, walking, etc. should never be used as a punishment. We want to encourage children to be active and to move their bodies so making students walk or run laps as punishment is sending the opposite message that physical activity is fun and good for us!

6. Promote Positive Body Image. We’ve all heard our colleague talk about the diet they just started or the weight they are trying to lose. Students hear and see everything! School staff can promote body positivity by not discussing weight around students and by leading by example.

7. A safe environment for all. Because of food allergies, many schools have implemented policies that do not allow outside food or drink or limit what can be brought in. Check with your school on what foods may not be allowed due to food allergies in the school. Keep in mind if a policy does exist it is in the best interest of the students and every student deserves a safe place to learn!