Are Schools Modeling Healthy Behaviors?

Yesterday, I had the honor of talking with these amazing people. Aimie and Daniel Stillings are traveling the country and the world to create a documentary on Nature Play.

As I sat and spoke with Aimie, yesterday, I started to process and think more and more about the tests our Children are being required to take about every 4th day school.  The tests that they all prepare to take in 3rd – 10th (and now 11th) grades. The fact that we are “teaching” all children all the way down to Kindergarten to “take tests.”  (Bubble in the correct answer)

How does this relate to health?  Our schools are where our children learn the behaviors they will have for a lifetime.  Yes, many habits and such are learned from the parents, but ask most parents of high school students and you will find they are learning “new” habits while at school.

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  • Our children are being asked to SIT for 6-7 hours a day
  • Our children are given twenty (20) minutes to eat their lunch
  • Our children are being denied recess
  • Physical Education classes are being scaled way back
  • Our children are being asked to complete page after page of worksheets, even in Kindergarten
  • Administrators and teachers are telling them that walking from one class to another is considered “a break”
  • Our children are being rewarded for good behavior or correct answers with candy, pizza parties, and the like
  • Our children are being TESTED every 3-4 days

Our country is in dire straights when you consider the health of our nation.  80% of the top 4 health problems in the United States are preventable through daily lifestyle choices!

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We ask our children to sit at their desks and pay attention for 6-7 hours a day – as young as Kindergarten.

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By asking our children to sit still for 6 hours a day we are modeling risky behavior for their future health. Studies are showing that sitting for long periods can be VERY detrimental to our health:

Sedentary lifestyles increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” ~ Martha Grogan, Cardiologist, Mayo Clinic

Many of our children are given 20 minutes to eat their lunch, if this includes their travel time and time in line to purchase that meal, this can quickly whittle down to 10-12 minutes to eat. This models poor eating habits that can stretch into a lifetime of issues.  What happens when we eat too quickly?  Check out the information from LiveStrong on the topic of eating too fast.

Our children are being denied recess!

With all the stress being placed on test scores, there just isn’t time for recess! We need another 15 minutes for English Language Arts or Math class.  All fine and dandy, but what good is a test score when you are out of shape, your body begins falling apart in your 2o’s and you are spending days, months and years in doctor’s offices, medical centers and hospitals.  Not to mention, the plethora of research pointing to children retaining more information and grasping information better when given a break and then coming back to the classroom!

How many of us would willingly take a job with 13 minutes to eat and no “breaks” during the day.

Recess 

Our child is lucky, she gets PE 3 times a week! Many districts across the United states, AND our higher grade levels are NOT being given physical education classes.  Those are considered optional classes and if the student requires remedial action due to another test score, these options are no longer on the table. 

I remember in grade school, Mr. Jones taught us how to “fall down correctly.”  Told us that if we learned and then used it if we fell, we would not hurt ourselves as badly. We thought it was really silly at the time, as an adult, I now see the importance of all he taught us about moving on a daily basis to stay healthy!  Our students need to learn to stay active, they need to be taught to enjoy activities so they can remain physically strong and healthy.  When our muscles atrophy due to inactivity we begin feeling more and more pain on a daily basis.  I do NOT want that for my child or any other child!

Worksheets are the norm!

Gone are the days of make believe, kitchen sets, dress up clothes and such.  Our children are no longer, for the most part, encouraged to move around and explore and learn through play – even in kindergarten our children sit at desks most of the day and complete worksheets.  They move to the carpet for story time, then return to their seats to complete an activity worksheet on the story.  Movement is gone from the classroom due to the perception of chaos and the need to score better on end of course exams… YES, END OF COURSE EXAMS FOR OUR KINDERGARTEN STUDENTS.

Moving from your seat to the restroom or another classroom is not enough to be called a break!

What would be your thoughts if your boss told you that your breaks would consist of the time you spent walking from your desk to a colleague’s desk, or the restroom, or the copy machine.  I have actually had administrators tell us that this is a break because they are not being asked to complete work at this time!  I THINK NOT!

Candy is your reward for a correct answer!

So, our children are snarfing down their lunch, not given time to play and move around, sitting for hours and slowing their metabolism and when they answer a question correctly or do something good, they are rewarded with a piece of candy or a mini-marshmallow?  How is this modeling healthy behaviors?  Having a pizza party because their class won a competition is NOT modeling healthy behaviors.  Perhaps, they could be rewarded with some additional time on a PLAYGROUND and be allowed to PLAY!

I was NOT rewarded with a skittle in class if I answered correctly and I still learned and fell in LOVE with learning!  If our classrooms have sunk so low that we must entice our children like Pavlov’s Dogs in order to get them to answer, we have some huge problems.

Finally, our children are being tested every 3-4 days as mandated by districts, states, and our federal government.

I liken this to someone hired for a new job.  You are told to learn on the go and not take breaks. Every 3-4 days someone comes in and administers an exam to you on what you have been learning. The test was not written by someone familiar with your industry so it is difficult to know how to answer the questions.  You will never be allowed to review the test, so you will be unable to discover exactly what you missed and where you made the error. 

Would you be stressed in an environment such as this? Of course you would be stressed!  So are our children.

HOW TO FIX IT!

The dialog has begun.  Parents have begun standing up and speaking out to fix our public schools for our children.

SPEAK OUT!  – Your child is our future! Your child’s future should be a future of joy and learning, and good health!

When we eliminate the high stakes testing, ALL high stakes testing, there will no longer be any need to eliminate recess, no need to eliminate Physical Education classes, no need to rush through meals, and no need to sit for 6 hours a day to complete worksheet after worksheet.  When our children are taught to LOVE LEARNING there is no need to bribe them with candy or treats.

Join your local group working toward eliminating high stakes testing, talk with your board of education, and vote!  For the health of our children and the health of our nation, PLEASE STAND UP!!!

Thank you

https://www.facebook.com/HealthySchoolsLee

http://unitedoptout.com/

If you would like additional information about groups in your area, or how to begin a group in your area, please contact me.

Tips to Keep Them Healthy when School Starts

School started for us today. This means she will again be with her friends and the other 900+ students in her school.  This means germs from a plethora of places and people. 

I feel it is important to give her a strong start to her school year and boost her immunity and system for learning as well.  Here are some of the things we do to help strengthen and support our family’s immunity when the school year starts – and most of the time. Smile

  • Breakfast IS important.  What we feed our children, first thing in the morning, sets them up for optimum learning, or sets their bodies rolling on the blood sugar roller coaster.
    • We make sure our days begin with a balanced meal. Since time is of the essence and my child prefers to “drag” herself into the kitchen at the last minute, we opt for a Meal Shake – her favorite is Bavarian Cocoa, it provides her with PLENTY of protein, some fiber, and some nutrients to give her the boost she needs.
    • When she feels extra hungry, or I know she didn’t eat a full dinner the night before, we add a 1/4 cup of oatmeal in the morning to give her an extra boost

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  • Add Supplements if your child doesn’t eat 7-9 fruits & veggies a day, eat fish 2-3 times a day, or is a picky eater. The first couple of times she took her “grown up” supplements-it was a bit of a challenge, but when she swallowed them whole we celebrated!  She is 7 years old and swallows tablets better than her daddy!

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    • Multi-vitamin – Coral takes two Incredivites (These multi-vitamins contain NOTHING ARTIFICIAL because it is important to me that when I am giving my daughter something to improve her health, that there not be ingredients with side effects that could harm her health.)
    • Optiflora probiotic – this boosts her immune system in the large intestine – guaranteed live delivery of the bacteria she needs to maintain a strong immune system
    • B-Complex & Omegaguard Fish Oil – She struggles with focus and the Omega & B-Complex really seem to help her with that.
    • Osteomatrix Calcium/Magnesium supplement each day.  This supplement assists her in relaxing AND prevents those pesky growing pains.  If she complains of her joints or legs hurting, we add a Chewable Cal/Mag to the mix at dinner time too.

  • Washing hands Frequently
    • We know this one, we hear it all the time. Wash your hands frequently.
    • Use PLAIN soap, NOT anti-bacterial soap.  Our kids don’t typically wash their hands long enough to allow the antibacterial soaps to work properly – AND they kill the GOOD guys on the skin that help fight the bad guys.  We’ve been so enamored with “KILLING GERMS” that we have killed off the good bacteria our bodies need to fight those germs!

  • Reduce Sugar Intake
    • I KNOW, they are kids, they love sweet, however – sugar suppresses our immune response. The more sugar and refined carbohydrates we consume, the harder it is for our body to fight off sickness. We don’t bring candy into our home – it just makes it easier. (not often anyway) Ever notice how cold and flu season begins in full force about 2 weeks AFTER Halloween?  (interesting)
    • Other options: FRUIT!  Its sweet, it tastes good, its pretty, and its HEALTHY!  We stock up on fresh fruits and frozen fruits, make frozen smoothees instead of popsicles and other sweet temptations.
    • EAT A PROTEIN WITH EVERY CARB!
      When we eat a sugar it spikes our blood sugar, which then causes a dramatic DROP in blood sugar –> This in turn can cause our children to crave and to become HANGRY MONSTERS!  When we serve a protein with a carbohydrate – the protein works to level off that blood sugar and a more gradual drop – avoiding the monsters!

  • Teach Your Children
    • People frequently get a chuckle out of my daughter (for many things) specifically when she will come up to ask me, “What are my protein choices?” or “Mom, what snack options are available to me now?”  She knows she needs to eat healthy to stay healthy.  She KNOWS she must have a protein source if she is going to have a “sugar choice”.  It makes my life easier when I know she is looking for the right foods.

  • After School Snacks
  • 7-9 a Day!  (Fruits and Vegetables)  – I know, mine is picky too. She prefers fruit and broccoli and that is IT.  We have instituted the you must try 2 bites theory – and the eat it all if you want desert, and it seems to work. (We’ve also implemented a time limit for her for desert as well.)

    Fresh Produce Healthy Grease Monkey

    • Include fruits or veggies at every turn.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.
    • Taste the Rainbow of Flavors!
    • When all else fails, HIDE IT in their favorite foods.  I shred zucchini, carrots, spinach, moringa, and anything else I can think of to boost the nutritional value of her favorites.

  • Exercise!  We are blessed in Lee County FL because all of our schools now have 15 minutes of recess a day for our children to move and refresh and the minimum of 150 minutes per week of physical education!  Movement is SO important in maintaining a healthy immune system as well as mental health… Get your kids moving!  Park for 3o minutes, a sports team, a dance team, something… Keep them moving and off the couch.

The habits we model and teach our children today are shaping them into the adults of our future! Help our children help themselves by learning healthy, daily habits through Health Choices!

For more information on Healthy Choices or for a personal consultation or for questions on high quality supplements and other products, feel free to contact me, The Healthy Grease Monkey.

Make it a GREAT YEAR!